Biking From the Brooklyn Bridge to Coney Island

This has to be one of the best urban bike trips in the world, and part of the reason is because it encapsulates so much of what it means to be a New Yorker:  history, ethnic and geographic diversity, phenomenal views and great food. Plus it's a whirlwind tour of lower Manhattan, City Hall, the Brooklyn Bridge and waterfront, the Promenade, Park Slope, Prospect Park, the 100 year-plus Ocean Parkway bike path and Coney Island.

Start at the Brooklyn Bridge.  Later editions of these pages will detail the downtown-labyrinth of how to get to the Brooklyn Bridge, from both east and west side, but for now we start at BB.

Slip into low gear and enjoy the view, but please be aware that

visiting tourists are so awed by our local vistas that they have trouble remembering whether they are bikes or bipeds and inadvertently wander into the wrong lane.  So please don't hurt our tourist industry by running down any strange looking fellow with a camera -- hell, it could be me. 

After you cross the bridge and are descending into Brooklyn, bear to the left.  Very shortly after being back on the land side, the bike path bifurcates with the right heading to downtown Brooklyn, the left, the waterfront.  Slow down and be prepared to stop. For while the right path gradually slows over the length of a very long declining plane, the left stops abruptly right before a set of very steep stairs that take you down to street level.   And while I am sure there are one or two of you who could probably negotiate down those stairs at full throttle, for the rest of us, it would just be a cheap rerun of ER.  So, after arriving -- safely -- at street level, hang the left on Cadman Plaza E., which immediately turns into Washington Street, and continue for two block until you come to Front Street. Take a left on Front Street and follow it until it ends; at that intersection, turn right, heading towards the water and the ferry terminal.

Travel approximately one block and turn left at the Texaco sign on Everit Street.  Everit Street is a steep, one way, but low trafficked street, and turns into Columbia Hts.  Proceed up the hill.  At the top of the hill, turn right on Orange Street to enter the Promenade.  The Promenade will be under various stages of construction for the next two years, but the view is phenomenal and still worth the digression. Continue on the Promenade or on Columbia Hts until you come to Montague Street.  Montague Street is one way also, but again low trafficked, and worth the trip because of all the shops and restaurants along the way.  Now comes the tricky part: from the Brooklyn Bridge to Prospect Park is a scant four miles; however, because of a multiplicity of highways, one way and dead end streets, the Gowanus Canal cutting off Park Slope from South Brooklyn, not to mention a few maniacally trafficked streets, it becomes necessary to dogleg the next section, taking advantage of quite neighborhoods, low traffic, and the all important bridge over the Gowanous Canal.  See map above.

So, continuing on Montague Street to a right on Henry Street. Take Henry Street for approximately 20 blocks -- crossing  over Atlantic Avenue in the process -- to a left on Union Street.  Take Union for 4 blocks to a right on Hoyt Street. Travel Hoyt for 7 block until you come to 3rd Street, where you take a right.  Take 3rd Street across the Gwanous Canal, continuing on through all of Park Slope, until you reach the entrance to Prospect Park.  Both Carol and Union Street have a bridge that takes you across the Grownaus Canal, but they will take you through heavier traffic, while the 3rd Street rooute takes you through a very sedate section of Park Slope and enters right into Prospect Park.

Enter the park at 3rd street and take the first right, following it to the far southern end, approximately 3 miles.  Exit the park at the Ocean Pkwy/Coney Is. exit.  From here, Coney Island is less then 5 miles away, and on one of the oldest and nicest bike paths in the country.  The catch is, the bike path is separated from Prospect Park by a killer traffic circle, a six lane highway, and multiple under and over passes.  But fear not, the ever-faithful Bob's dogleg is about to save the day.  See map above. 

So, coming from the park, cross the street towards the Commerce Bank.  Travel away from the park and around the Commerce Bank corner, heading towards the foot bridge and moving away from the traffic circle.  Skip the first foot bridge.  In the next block, at 7th street, move to the left side of the street and head up the entrance ramp of the second foot bridge. You'll know you are on the right bridge as is crosses a six lane highway.  Continue across the bridge and down the other side.  At the intersection at 5th street, at the traffic light, there will be a playground to your right and across the street, on your left, a school.  Take a left on 5th street and travel 2 blocks, taking  the next left on Albemarle Road. On Albemarle Road, travel one block and then take a right.  One block later you will be at the intersection of Church Avenue and the Prospect Expressway.  The bike path is across the street at about 2 degrees to your left.

The other route to the bike path, after exiting the park, is to follow the traffic circle halfway around and make the right on Coney Island Avenue, heading south for 3 block, then take the right on Church Avenue, taking it across to the bike path. While this way certainly sounds simpler, you still have to negotiate the traffic circle of death, plus Coney Island Avenue is host to the biweekly Saturday night bottle breaking contest. Plus, that dog legging route is not nearly so bad after you do it the first time.

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