Note: This post was written by Robert F. Rodriguez, a visuals editor at The Journal News/LoHud.com and a recreational biker living in New York City. He and his wife, Stephanie, enjoy biking throughout the boroughs for sightseeing, exercise and finding good food in out-of-the-way places.
My wife, Stephanie, and I try to do some long bike rides from our place in Morningside Heights in Manhattan into Brooklyn, with our destination being one of the many good pizza places in the borough. In recent years the bike paths on the Manhattan and Williamsburg bridges have been upgraded, making the trek across the East River a pleasant one. Forget about dodging strollers, joggers, bikers and tourists on the Brooklyn Bridge.
We took the Williamsburg Bridge into Brooklyn. The path begins at Delancey and Clinton streets where you find a wide, well-paved path – no stairs and a relatively easy incline. About a quarter of the way up you see a grafitti-scarred plaque telling you (duh!) that you are on the Williamsburg Bridge. At this point bikers are directed to head to the north path and pedestrians are pointed to the south side – of course, with the better view.
No issues getting across the bridge with only a handful of bikers coming and going. At Bridge Plaza in Williamsburg, you’re only a few blocks from the revered Peter Luger’s Steak House, but our cuisine today was pizza. On a previous trip we had pizza in nearby Greenpoint at Fornino at187 Bedford Ave. where we enjoyed outdoor dining.
We also have plans next trip to try Motorino Pizza at 319 Graham Ave. to judge for ourselves which pizza has the thinnest crust and best flavor. But this time, we had plans to try a place in Fort Greene (now fashionably called Clinton Hill) called Graziella’s at 232 Vanderbilt Ave.
The trek from Williamsburg to Graziella’s brought us through one of the Hasidic parts of Brooklyn as well as the fabled Brooklyn Navy Yard. This part of Brooklyn has changed dramatically in recent years with manufacturing moving out and artists and entrepreneurs moving in. We passed numerous blocks of lovely brownstones and mini mansions as we neared Fort Greene. Many of the streets we were on had a bike lane, making our ride somewhat safer.
Graziella’s has a cozy second-floor deck with views of the Chrysler Building and midtown Manhattan – we grabbed a shady table and cooled off from our ride. Adventurous eaters that we are, Stephanie and I shared grilled octopus and an arugula with shaved parmesan pizza – nothing too filling as we still had a long ride ahead of us.
After our lunch we opted to take in a few more sidestreets and head for the Manhattan Bridge home. One advisory if you are looking for the bike ramps from the Brookyn side of the Manhattan Bridge – you have to be on either Sands Street or Jay Street to enter the plaza that gets you to the ramps. There’s such a confusion of streets in the area because of the Brooklyn Queens Expressway and the ramps to the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges all criss-crossing.
Be sure to check New York City Bike Maps. Incidentally, the featured video on the page is “Bike Ride across the Manhattan Bridge.”
I confess that we cheated and took the pedestrians ramp (southside). It has the great views of the Brooklyn Bridge and New York Harbor. Luckily, there weren’t that many people so we did not have to weave around too many people. If you plan on taking the Manhattan Bridge into Brooklyn, the bike ramp is on Canal and Forsyth streets. It’s clearly marked and the incline is steady but not steep. And besides, you’ll probably stop a few times to take in the sights.
Our ride over the Manhattan bridge left us on the Bowery, where we made our way through Chinatown, Little Italy and SoHo to get over the West Side/Hudson River Green Path.
Even though we had to fight the wind most of the way home, we made good time back up to 114th Street. Overall, a very nice ride and a very pleasant meal. We hope to do a three-borough ride next, heading into Queens over the Queensboro Bridge and, who knows, maybe we’ll come back over the Brooklyn Bridge.