By JON CRONIN
The borough of Queens has yet to completely warm up to sharing the road with bicyclists, but this less-intensive physical activity can be easier on those looking to jumpstart their sedentary lifestyle.
In an April 2018 article on the Harvard Health Publishing website, Dr. Brendan Everett, a cardiologist at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital, said about bicycling, “I have many patients who bike, and they find it’s a great way to get some exercise, especially when the weather’s favorable. Cycling may not burn as many calories as jogging over a given period of time, but jogging is difficult for many people.”
Dr. Everett also noted that people can set their own pace on a bike as well as choose the difficulty of the terrain on which to ride.
The Centers for Disease Control echoed those statements in a post on its website about the relationship between mental health and access to parks and green outdoor community spaces. The center contended that activities such as biking, which elevates the heart rate, can help to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes, improve bone density and strengthen muscles, and improve balance for older adults.
Biking-infrastructure advocates Transportation Alternatives recommended a few routes in the borough that vary from beginner through advanced, and then on to daredevil, which includes busy roadways.
Beginners / Families / Comfort / Most Safe: 111th Street/Flushing Meadows Corona Park/Kissena Corridor Park/Cunningham Park/Vanderbilt Motor Parkway/Alley Pond Park:
Macartney Morris, an organizer for Transportation Alternatives, said that the route, which starts in the two-way bike lane in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, is “almost all separate from car traffic.” For parents, there will be no stress about kids’ interacting with cars.
“The number-one advantage of that route is that you are completely outside of traffic,” said Joby Jacob, an avid biker and eastern Queens resident, who added that the only other people riders will see on the route are runners, walkers and other bikers. “It reminds me of being upstate. Depending on the time of day, you might not see many people. It’s a bucolic experience. If you wave at people, they just say ‘hi.’”
Biking to Work/Most Safe/Shopping: Queens Boulevard from Forest Hills to the Queensboro Bridge will soon be seven miles of protected bike lanes.
Once the Skillman Avenue and Forest Hills sections of protected bike lanes are implemented, there will be seven miles of easy riding between Forest Hills and Manhattan. Morris believes that aside from intersections, this route will be the safest way to get on a bike and get to work in Manhattan.
Morris noted that there are shops in commercial areas along this route, particularly the small businesses in Sunnyside.
Scenic: Start in Flushing and head over Northern Boulevard Bridge to the Flushing Bay Promenade and then to 31st Avenue all the way to the Queens waterfront. Then, head north to Shore Boulevard/Astoria Park/20th Avenue or south to Socrates Sculpture Park, Queensbridge Park or Vernon Boulevard, cutting over to Center Boulevard and Hunter’s Point South Park.
Morris pointed out that it’s cramped on the bridge, but riders are separated from traffic. Once you ride past LaGuardia Airport, the neighborhood becomes a quiet, scenic route.
“It’s a super, super quiet lane, except for Astoria Boulevard and a little bit when you hit the BQE,” he said.
Bike to the beach: Queens Blvd to Woodhaven Boulevard to Cross Bay Boulevard to the Rockaways (not for the fainthearted); alternatively, a safer route cuts through Brooklyn and takes you back into Queens through Jacob Riis Park via the Marine Parkway Bridge:
There are no bike lanes on Woodhaven Boulevard. It is considered a shared lane by the city. There are some fellow riders on this trek but there will be little time for greetings, as riders will need to pay careful attention to the quality of the road and the actions of drivers.