You might not expect to find such a robust bicycle culture in a place like New York City. But at NYU, biking is a popular, sustainable, and fun way to get to class or take in the sights. And if you’re worried about biking in the city, don’t be. In the past decade, bike ridership at NYU has increased by over 600 percent. And the University has paid attention. From bike education classes to coordinated helmet giveaways, there are many resources for anyone in the NYU community who is interested in biking. In fact, the League of American Bicyclists recently recognized NYU’s efforts by naming it a Silver-level Bicycle Friendly University and Business. This award reflects NYU’s ongoing work to make the University a better, safer place to bike.
“Biking is a great way to explore new areas of the city,” says Sophie Golomb. She is the sustainability manager at NYU’s Office of Sustainability. “Every time I ride my bike, I fall more in love with New York City. I also enjoy the workout and the ability to take care of errands quickly and efficiently, all without adding to my carbon footprint.” Whether you’re a total beginner or an experienced cyclist, here’s what you need to know about biking at NYU.
No Bike? No Problem.
It’s likely a bicycle isn’t the first thing on your “what to pack for college” list. Luckily, bike-sharing services are popular in New York City. What’s more, biking at NYU is even easier and more affordable because of agreements with Citi Bike and Unlimited Biking that provide steep discounts to members of the NYU community. There are also plenty of places to buy a new or used bicycle if you decide you want your own. And don’t worry about circling the block, searching for a place to safely stow your two-wheeler once you reach your destination. Over the past two years, NYU nearly doubled bike parking availability across campus. Today, bike parking spaces and bike-share stations far outnumber the campus’ car parking spaces.
Advice for Newer Cyclists
If you’re a less experienced cyclist, biking in a city can feel intimidating at first. But with a little time, some practice, and some tips from our cycling community, you’ll gain confidence quickly. “Grab a helmet, start slow on protected bike lanes or greenways, and learn how to signal your turns,” advises Joann Lee from the Office of Sustainability. Her colleague, Nicholas Liu-Sontag, adds, “Knowing the best bike routes is the key to biking around the city safely. Once you learn which streets have safe bike lanes and barriers, you can get anywhere much more safely. And start small! You can start with short bike rides in the park before branching out to larger streets.”
For even more resources, “Check out Bike New York,” suggests sustainability team member Jane O’Mahony. “They offer biking education resources that can help you navigate biking in New York City.”
Join the Club
If you’re seeking a community of cyclists, consider joining the NYU Cycling Club. As a member, you can train for competitive races or find fellow riders for more casual excursions. “Anyone who has access to a bike with breaks and gears can join,” says Fred Levy, the cycling team’s cocaptain. He is a Sustainable Urban Environments major at the Tandon School of Engineering.
“The club is geared toward the competitive side. But what makes it nice and so that anyone can join is that, over the week, we have many different rides that vary in intensity. On Fridays we have very relaxed rides, and those are great moments to join in and get to know other people, even if you don’t have racing aspirations.” Fred adds that the club’s Facebook page is also a great resource for finding co-riders. There, people will post their planned trips and invite others to join them, and you’ll find rides for all levels.
Whether you join the club or not, Fred recommends cycling to anyone who wants to get to know New York City. “When people start to cycle, they start looking at the streets in a whole different way and learn so much about the city,” he says. And what if you’re feeling nervous about your skills? “Reach out to the Cycling Club,” he suggests. “You’ll find there are a lot of people willing to help you.”