Biking The Verrazano Narrows  to Coney Island
(17 miles from the B.B. to Coney Island)

 


According to this australopithecine I used to drink with when I lived in the backwaters of Virginia -- who claimed to have witnessed the whole thing --  the Narrows were formed when a runaway glacier went crashing through the lower boundaries of a great inland sea, opening it to the nearby Atlantic Ocean and forming our beloved Hudson Estuary. 

And if you do this ride on a day when the tides are particularly high and the wind is strong and slightly stormy and has been building for several days out of the west, you'll know that the old dinosaur spoke true, especially when that rogue waves crashes over the seawall and washes  you clean with primordial sea water and heavy, salt laden air.  Urban biking at it's finest -- amen!!

Similar to it's sister trip, where we peddle to Coney Island via the Ocean Parkway bike path, this trip takes you through a smorgasbord of New York neighborhoods,  including . . .   lower Manhattan, City Hall, the Brooklyn Bridge and waterfront, the Promenade, Park Slope, Prospect Park, Sunset Park, Bay Ridge, etc, etc, before climaxing with a breath taking ride through the Verrazano Narrows.

That said, 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 blocks 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 (the wrong 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 also one way the wrong way, 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 Gowanus 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 left.  Take 3rd Street across the Gowanus 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 Gowanus Canal, but they will take you through heavier traffic, while the 3rd Street route 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 Isle exit. 
 


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 -- the one that crosses perpendicular to your path.  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. The entrance to this bridge parallels the street you are traveling. 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 right on Albemarle Road. 
Follow Albemarle Road five blocks to where it segues into Tehma Street.  Take Tehma two blocks to 36th Street and dog leg around with a left then a right, down 13th Avenue.  Now if this is Saturday, you are going to have an extraordinarily pleasant ride. 13th Avenue is part of both Sunset Park and Borough Park and both neighborhoods are  strongly orthodox, so most of the shops are closed and there is very little traffic down this one way street. 

Follow 13th Avenue 34 blocks until a hard right at 70th Street.  Follow 70th Street west (well, actually north west) pretty much until you reach the water.  Be aware  that 70th Street turns into Ovington Avenue after you cross the Gowanus Expressway, and it dead ends into Ridge Avenue, where a quick right and then a left will dogleg you onto Bayridge Avenue (69th Street), which runs into the tunnel which takes you under the highway and right to the water.  This is not as complicated as it sounds as you will be very aware of heading towards the river in the final approach.  And of course there are many places along the way where the Verrazano Bridge is visible to your left.


At the river, hang a left.  Of course that's after basking in the sunshine and saltwater air of the local fishing pier.  Of the Verrazano bike path itself, I can't say enough.  So maybe I should say nothing.  Follow it and enjoy.  If it's your first time, stop often and drink in the feeling and the view.  For all you other jaded urban riders, follow it to its terminus at the Toy's 'r Us parking lot, where you
hang a left and move inland a block, taking the right onto the Shore Parkway service road.    I alternate between using the service road and the sidewalk depending on traffic and conditions.  There are many people on the sidewalk for the first half block, but then after that it's empty the whole rest of the way.  Follow the service road until it ends, at which point hang a hard left to the next block.  You are now at the intersection of Bay52 and Cropsey Avenue and there will be a huge dinner on the opposite corner.  Take the right and stay on the sidewalk until you cross over the bridge which takes you across the Coney Island creek.  While it probably doesn't need saying, since hopefully you've been noticing the approaching Parachute Jump from somewhere along the Verrazano, just keep heading for the Jump. At Coney Island, the subways are on Surf Avenue. One is at the intersection of Stilwell Avenue,  the other is at West 8th Street, right across from the NY Aquarium.

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