Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Big Loop Through the Rockaways - Now Only Kind of Busted

Monday morning I headed out for my best fave inside-the-five-boroughs NYC bike ride - a 40-ish mile loop from my doorstep to the Rockaways and back again.

When it's totally functional, here's how it works: You go down Bedford Ave (on-street bike lane, mostly observed), or otherwise get yourself to Sheepshead Bay, then pick up an off-street bike lane that goes along the Belt Parkway for 7 or 8 miles. Take a little detour through Howard Beach and then down Cross-Bay Boulevard you go - over the little islands of Jamaica bay. Then cross the Cross-Bay bridge to Rockaway Beach. Sing the Rock-Rock-Rock-Rockaway beach song a couple times, look at the Atlantic Ocean (or lock your bike up and jump in), and head west a couple miles before crossing the Marine Parkway Bridge back over to the Brooklyn mainland. Up Flatbush Avenue for a mile or so (another off-street bike lane) and you pick up the trail back to Sheepshead Bay and home again. An almost-traffic free 40 miles!

Last summer, the loop dead ended at a big old fence where the bike lane was under construction at the Fountain Avenue Landfill (marked on the Bike Map as Spring Creek Park - see, New York has so much green space!)

On Monday's ride, there was a shiny new bike lane past the being-restored landfill, but a new dead-end at the Cross-Bay bridge - the bike and ped crossing is being worked on. I turned around and went back the way I came (headwind became a tailwind - yay!), but here's what I just found out:

I called 311 (311 rules) and got transferred to somebody at the MTA, which runs the bridge - he told me the bike and pedestrian access will be out until October, but there's a free shuttle that runs every 15 minutes from 7am to 9pm that takes bikes, too. It picks up at the deli parking lot on the north side (it's the last thing before the bridge), and the McDonalds on the South side. So if you're up for an assist across the bridge, (or feel like stopping for lunch at the Deli), the big loop is up and running again!

The images are from the NYC Bike Map. Get your own!

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