By Seth Fera-Schanes
Pick any activity in Central Park and you will typically have a good time. Whether you are taking in a little sun while reading a book in the Sheep Meadow, bird watching in the Ramble, or simply sitting on a park bench drinking a coffee and doing some people watching. These are all great activities but one stands out that allows you to experience a large section of the park in a relatively short amount of time; riding a bike!
Three of the main bike loops in the park come in at distances of 6.1 miles, 5.2 miles and 1.7 miles. The 6 mile loop will take you around the perimeter of the park and help to orient you to different neighbors for later exploration.
I was invited by Central Park Tours to try out their bikes for a ride in the park. The company is located on 52nd street and Broadway which is only 7 blocks below the entrance on the south side of the park. All the bikes are made by Fuji and offered a really comfortable ride. I noticed there is only one brake that works for both the front and rear wheels at the same time and the shifter is a dial which made for an easy ride (and good for beginners.) The company offers helmets for free (and are required for riders 14 and younger.) I would recommend always wearing a helmet, so do take them up on that offer.
Prices to rent a bike start at $15/hour and there are discounts and deals available through their website. If you are looking for a nice casual ride through Central Park, 1 hour should suffice. If you plan on stopping and taking pictures along the way you might want to book for a little extra time. The staff were friendly and available to answer any questions I had in advance of my ride which is always helpful when navigating through NYC.
Note: Fall is right around the corner and one of the best times of the year to be in the park.