By Mike Joy. Mike is a prolific traveler, 4 year resident of NYC and Community Manager at Couchsurfing.
From tourists to locals, there is a persistent confusion in how one gets around New York City (NYC). Some plan on walking from the tip of Manhattan to Central Park (nearly eight km and as many blisters) while others hop in yellow taxis to get everywhere. Luckily, there is a middle road between these two options, saving you time and allowing you to make the most of your time.
Many people who come to NYC walk from site to site, crossing neighborhoods in their Pink Sketchers, feeling like they are soaking up the true New York experience. The thing is, although we definitely walk a lot in NYC, we walk to modes of transportation. If I am in SoHo shopping and meeting a friend for dinner in Chelsea (20 blocks north) there is NO WAY I am walking. Why? I am a busy man! I can’t spend 40 minutes checking out the sites on lower Broadway (spoiler alert, there are none) and arrive late to dinner. Lucky for you and me, there are MANY ways to get around New York that will be FAR easier on your hips, feet and wallet.
The Adventurer’s (and author’s) choice!
CitiBike: I can not sing the praises of these bikes enough. So much so, you may start to think this is a sponsored post. It is not. Now, I know many people, New Yorkers included who would say I am insane for biking in Manhattan, but there are quite a few bike lanes and if you are a confident rider, it really isn’t any worse than biking in any busy area. Cars know to look out for you and truly your biggest issue will be pedestrians wandering into the street (a bigger nightmare to drivers I assume). CitiBike can be hired on monthly and hourly passes – so if you are going a few blocks or want to get your cardio in, check one out and travel how yours truly does!
New York has a subway. A big subway. An expansive subway. A subway that would make a European proud. Well maybe not proud, but at least sigh in tired acceptance. Truth be told, it is in desperate need of a facelift but it will get you wherever you want to go. Will you see a rat in the stations? Yes. Will you walk into a car and immediately turn around when the smell of death hits you? Yes. Will you get stuck under the east river for a few moments and briefly wonder if this is how it ends for you? Maybe that’s just me. All of that aside, the subway (metro for you non-New Yorkers) connects most of the outer boroughs (sorry Staten Island!) to Manhattan and will get you between most of the main sites in far less time than anything else on this list. And at USD$8 for an unlimited day pass, or USD$32 for a week — it is a budget-friendly option.
Now NYC doesn’t have those cool Bird scooters like LA does, why? I do not know. Probably some lame law. BUT what it does have is Revel Scooters in Brooklyn and Queens which are straight up mopeds that you open with an app and take off like you’re in the streets of Milano. These aren’t allowed in Manhattan (not that you would want to scooter through that mayhem!) but if you are crossing between the less visited but equally interesting Queens and Brooklyn, download the app and give it a go. NOTE: Helmets come with the bike and they are a MUST to wear.
Now I definitely use Uber and Lyft in the city for certain moments. The ‘I have a flight to catch!’ moment. The ‘I have had one too many drinks and it is too late for the subway’ moment. The ‘I just went to Target and bought USD$1400 worth of home goods moment’. But that’s about it. The thing with taking Uber and Lyft in the city is that traffic sucks. In some cases, yes it will save you time and if you are a family of four it very well may save you money — but I have been caught in downtown traffic that made a 15-minute subway ride into a 55-minute Uber one too many times to give it my full endorsement.
Of course, you can walk. You can catch a cab. You can buy a tricycle and make some pocket change in Time’s Square. But if you’re looking for the easiest, most accessible and most cost-effective way to get around the Big Apple, take our advice and save your feet from those blisters.