Want to go on a bike rental in Central Park? During your stay, renting a bike in New York will be the ideal solution to quickly make short trips, explore Central Park (my favourite place on a bike!) or to ride along the Hudson River.
There are several options if you want to rent a bike in New York. You can use the bike share service, or opt for a bike rental agency, in Central Park or in other parts of New York.
Bike rental in Central Park
As I'll tell you later in the article, there are self-service bicycles in New York.
However, their rental conditions can be quite restrictive, and renting bikes from private agencies will be much more convenient if your goal is really to leisurely visit the city and discover Central Park.
Indeed, thanks to these agencies, you won't have to use your bike for only short periods of time nor fear penalties for being late, and you will be able to ride as much as you want during the whole rental period.
For me, Central Park is probably the best place in the city to ride a bike.
You can ride around the park on the bike paths, and bikes are also allowed on the main road. Be aware, however, that traffic in the park is one-way only, so you'll have to go around the park in an anti-clockwise direction. Some paths are also reserved for pedestrians, so watch out for the signs.
Central Park is ideal for a relaxing bike ride: the terrain is generally very flat, traffic is safe, and even beginners or non-athletes can enjoy the experience.
In the vicinity of the park, you will come across many people offering to rent a bike.
However, the garages of these rental companies are not always that close to the park, and it is often best to choose a rental company that actually has a location near Central Park, and one where you can even reserve your bikes in advance.
If you wait until you get there to reserve your bikes, you run the risk of there being no availability. Moreover, on sunny days, the bikes get rented out very quickly. First come, first served!
To be on the safe side, I can only recommend booking your bikes in advance. You will be able to choose the day and the rental duration. On D-day, all you will have to do is show your booking receipt and your bikes will be waiting for you all ready to go as soon as you arrive 🙂
RENT A BIKE NEAR CENTRAL PARK
Unlimited Biking has several locations in New York City, the main one being on 56th Street, just a few metres from the 57th Street underground station and south of Central Park. In this agency, you will find a wide range of bikes for adults and children, and you can even rent baby seats, tandems or rollerblades.
If you are looking for a bike rental in Central Park, this is definitely the best choice for quality and safety!
Rentals range from 2 hours to a full month. For a 2-hour rental of a regular bike, you will have to pay $20 (£15), and $30 for a 4-hour rental (£23).
If you want to make sure you don't miss anything while exploring Central Park by bike, Unlimited Biking can provide you with a free map and all the recommendations you need to know where to go to see all the main spots in the park.
The reason I chose to talk about this bike rental agency is of course because it offers quality services, but also because its services are included in the New York Pass. This tourist pass, which gives access to more than 100 major attractions in New York, includes bike rental from this company. This pass can therefore save you money when you visit New York City, if you want to see many of the city's most popular attractions AND enjoy a pleasant bike ride in the park. So it's a great compromise if you want to do both 🙂
GUIDED BIKE TOUR OF CENTRAL PARK
You can also opt for a guided tour of the park by bicycle, where a guide will accompany you and share his knowledge with you (those guides speak English, of course, but guides speaking other languages are also available should you make the request). A guided tour of the park usually lasts two hours and will take you past the most famous places such as Bethesda Fountain, Strawberry Fields and Belvedere Castle.
These tours are by reservation only and will cost between £35 and £45. You can also do other guided bike tours around New York, including Harlem and Brooklyn.
For me, this is one of the best ways to discover Central Park. Even better than a bike rental in Central Park where you are free to move around; a guided tour will allow you to discover a lot of little corners while learning some pretty cool anecdotes. And on top of that, you will have a guide to whom you can ask all the questions you want in order to know all the history and the secrets of this park!
CITI BIKE, NEW YORK’S SELF-SERVICE BICYCLE
In New York, the equivalent of London’s Santander Cycles is called Citi Bike. Throughout Manhattan and the rest of the city, you will find Citi Bike stations, where you can rent a bike for a set period of time, 24/7.
Cycling in New York is easier than you might think. There are plenty of bike lanes, but of course you should always be very careful of other vehicles on the road. Although helmets are not compulsory (except for children under 14), it is always safer to bring one.
To rent a bike, you will need to use a touch terminal, and you will only need your credit card. Several languages, including English of course, are available on the terminal. The rental process is very simple, you just have to follow the instructions. You can choose to take a single package, or buy one for several people. However, it is not possible to use a single credit card to purchase more than four Citi Bike packages.
Once you have chosen your package, you will receive a ticket containing a code that you can use to unlock the bikes. The City Bike bikes have a small luggage rack at the front where you can place your bag, and they have an easily adjustable saddle.
Once you have arrived at your destination or finished your ride, simply replace the bike and a green light will confirm that your rental is complete. If the light stays yellow or a red light comes on, remove the bike and try to put it back in.
CITI BIKE’S DIFFERENT PACKAGES
Several packages are available, and you can choose the most appropriate one for your needs:
- The Single Ride package offers a 30-minute rental for $3 (£2.30)
- The 24-hour package will cost you $12 (£9)
- The 3-day package will cost you $24 (£18)
- The unlimited annual subscription is offered at $169 (£128)
It is important to note that these packages only allow you to make short trips by bike. The 24-hour and 3-day packages only allow you to borrow bikes for 30-minute periods. The annual package, on the other hand, will allow you to ride your bike for 45-minute. The 24-hour package does not allow you to keep a bike for a whole day. Instead, it allows you to do as many 30-minute sessions as you like, which is admittedly much more restrictive.
The Citi Bike is a very good alternative, which I recommend especially if you have short distances to cover: to go from one point to another in Manhattan for example, or to take a short bike ride in Central Park. Cycling is relatively easy in this part of the city, and you can travel faster than by underground, and cheaper than by taxi.
PENALTIES FOR DELAY
If you are late, you will be charged a penalty of $4 (£3) per 15 minutes. When you purchase your package, $101 (about £76) will be automatically deducted from your bank account. Once you have placed the bike back and your rental period has ended, this amount will be returned to you. Any late payment penalties will be deducted from this amount.
So if you need to keep your bike for longer, you can – but the bill could quickly become quite high. For example, if you keep a Citi Bike for 2 hours straight with the Single Ride package, you will end up paying $27 (£20) for the rental ($4 for the first half hour, then 6 times $4 penalty for an extra hour and a half). So going to a rental agency will be more cost effective for a rental of 2 hours or more.
If you arrive at your destination within the allotted time, but there is no space available at your Citi Bike station for you to return the bike, you can use the kiosk again to request a 15-minute postponement, which will of course be free.
Be careful never to keep a Citi Bike for more than 24 hours. Any bike that has not been docked at a station for a period of 24 hours is automatically considered stolen. In addition to the already high cost of such a long rental, you will be charged a commission that may go well over $1,000 (£760)!
And this concludes my article! I hope you found it interesting, and that you’ll have a great time cycling around Central Park – whichever way you choose!