Field Trip: The Five Bridges

This idea came from neighbor Len Ellis, who does this circuit with his teenage daughter. But here’s the crazy part: he does it on foot! This was a running route for him; his daughter biked along for fun. So this would be in my don’t-try-this-at-home category the way Len did it, and totally a fun idea with wheels.

It’s 17 miles all in, and if you are a dedicated runner, here’s Len’s review: “It’s a great run since all the bridges are good hill training, something that is hard to find when you often run along the river.”

We did it by Citibike, which is slower than a real bike but easier to ditch for certain sections.

So here goes:

THE DESTINATION (…is the journey)
A circuitous route over five bridges crossing the East River and the Newtown Creek and returning to Tribeca

THE JOURNEY (…is the destination.)

  • Head over the Brooklyn Bridge.
  • Turn left at the end of the bridge and down one block and then left again and back over the Manhattan Bridge.
  • Right turn at the end of the Manhattan Bridge and up the Bowery and right on Delancey and over the Williamsburg Bridge (the best bridge crossing for bikes in the city IMO).
  • Back in Brooklyn, you really *should* cross under the bridge overpass and ride down Broadway to make the right on the bike path on Kent moving north.
  • We rode up Berry Street, but if you take Kent you are closer to the water.
  • Kent turns into Franklin; make a right on Eagle when you are just about done with Greenpoint.
  • Len follows the NYC Marathon route, which leads to the Pulaski Bridge over the Newtown Creek and into Queens. But there are also bike paths on Greenpoint Avenue to take you over the creek, and — wait for it — the new bike path over the Kosciuszko Bridge, which is really amazing. (More on that later.)
  • Once in Long Island City, head straight up 11th Street just 12 streets or so to Queens Plaza South, go right and look for the access to the Queensboro Bridge bike path. (You have to go under the bridge to the north side) NB: this is not the most luxurious ride over — you are sharing with pedestrians and there is barely enough room for two bikes to pass each other, an issue Streetsblog has followed.)
  • When you land in Manhattan, you are on First Avenue, which has a dedicated bike path. It would be my advice to ride east on 61st, enter the park at 60th and Fifth to the East Drive north and go out of your way a little bit so you can cross at the 72nd Street Transverse. I usually then ride down the West Drive and out at Tavern on the Green at 66th because I hate riding through Columbus Circle, but there are of course a dozen ways to ride home from there. Len runs through the park at 60th, then crosses under the Miller Highway at 59th to pick up the Hudson River Park bikeway/walkway at Pier 97.

There is no end of places to stop on this route — especially along Berry Street in Williamsburg, which is largely closed to traffic these days for Open Streets — but in terms of timing, I think the best spot for a stop is on the far side of the Pulaski in Long Island City. The good folks at The Infatuation have a list here; I have only fond memories from late nights at the Corner Bistro in the West Village; there’s an outpost in LIC. But my move for a bike trip would be 51st Bakery and Cafe take out for salads and sandwiches (daytime hours) to eat in Gantry Plaza State Park. If you are into day drinking and can pedal afterwards, I would definitely do John Brown Smokehouse. But check all these places for hours since they are not all that consistent.

This is a great route for views of our island from the parks along the way. If you have not already, definitely stop at Domino Park to check out the old relics from the sugar factory. The park also has a great taco stand. Marsha Johnson State Park (or East River) in Williamsburg actually has a beach; WNYC Transmitter Park was opened just a few years ago and is tiny but cool.

If you are really hungry for adventure and want to add in some culture, you can take your bike on the F train from 21st Street/Queensbridge to the next stop on Roosevelt Island. Bike down to see the Franklin Roosevelt memorial, or Four Freedoms Park. Watch opening days (I think they are usually closed Tuesdays) but right now there’s an installation for voting rights on the stairs and worth a visit. Of course, take the tram back to Second Avenue and bike home from there. NB: Roosevelt Island just got Citibikes in June.



  1. For years, I’ve done the Great Manhattan Bridges walk hosted by Shorewalkers. It involves walking over every pedestrian bridge that connects Manhattan and is 31 miles.

  2. Great article and so glad you enjoyed it!!!

  3. A great piece that “bridges” fitness and curiosity which makes for a fun adventure! An inspiring “Tribeca Citizen” featured in the “Tribeca Citizen.” Gives a whole new (literal) meaning to “we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.”