- Bike routes are everywhere, marked well. You can find the specific map here, and a comprehensive printed version in most bike stores.
- Bikes are everywhere. You can rent one from many rental shops, by the hour.
- Also, like in many cities in Europe, NYC also offers (inexpensive, not free) ‘Citi Bike’ bike sharing system with special parking spots. You have to get the bike for a day, or for a week. This is the way many now commute to work. There is even a special site, and classes, to teach you how to be a cyclist commuter.
- For those interested in more sporty cycling, there are many bike tours, the most famous being the one through every 5 boroughs (always in May). Many of the tours are all-family events, but there are also more competition-oriented bike clubs, including triathlon clubs, and rides. Many practice in Prospect Park or Central Park.
My own experience is, biking around NYC is an escape from the urban jungle, even if I would be cycling by Times Square. The feel for ones surroundings is just different — you are not underground, or in the stop-and-go rhythm of taxi rides, or elbowing your way through the pedestrian crowds. You are moving along, often quicker than cars that are stuck in traffic.
At the same time, biking is the fastest way to realize the diversity of New York.
For example: Ride from the Upper West side along the wonderfully landscaped Hudson River Park, then across the Brooklyn Bridge (but be aware of the sightseers who do not respect bike roads when taking pictures), then through the brownstone neighbourghoods to Prospect Park, through the Jewish hoods by Ocean Parkway — and then you are in Coney Island and Brighton Beach — by the beach. And: This all in a leisurely 1.5 hour ride.
A couple of things to always have, though: Bike helmet, sunglasses, and the famous ultra-heavy Kryptonite bike chain.