I was thumbing through the recent issue (#118) of Dirt Rag and stumbled on a short article about trails being built in NYC. It got me curious about the cycling scene in the big apple so I did a little poking around.
Imagine being a mountain biker in New York City. Every-time you would want to ride you would have to hoof it to Jersey (limited options) or Long Island to find some singletrack. Minimum one hour drive. This means mountain biking for New Yorkers is pretty much relegated to a weekend activity.
But not for long. The Concerned Long Island Mountain Bikers (CLIMB) has helped some active city riders to form a new club of New York City Mountain Bikers called NYCMTB. The goal - one trail in each of New York's five boroughs. The organizations are already off to a nice start with one trail in upper Manhattan (Highbridge Park) and one in Queens (Cunningham Park). Apparently there is also some sweet unsanctioned trail at Van Cortland Park in the Bronx. If NYCMTB can bring this trail under its wings they would have three of the five covered.
Beyond the obvious physical barriers to mountain biking in NYC, the city government seems to be increasingly antagonistic toward cyclists. Over the last few weeks I have been reading articles (I wish I could find them now) about the many tickets and fines levied against cyclists for things such as the lack of reflectors, riding outside the boundaries of the bike lane (scroll way down on page), and locking bikes on poles, lampposts, etc. The feeling is that Mayor Bloomberg is cracking down on cyclists due to the many Critical Mass rides that occur.
As one who grew up in NJ just west of the city, I have always thought of NY as the city with the best of everything. Never even gave it a second thought. Today I live just west of another great American city, Washington D.C., but I have often struggled to find things unique to the city that can't be found in NY (aside from the politics and monuments). While this region is not without its cycling struggles, it has a very diverse cycling culture and more singletrack within an hours drive then most cities out there.