Monday, June 1, 2009

City Guide Highlights Bike Routes Thru Nabes by Lisa L. Colangelo - NY Daily News

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IT JUST got a little easier to bike, sightsee and eat your way through Queens.

The city published a biking map last week dubbed "Queens Around the World," with several routes that allow cyclists to soak in notable sites and local cuisine.

City Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden called it an ultimate insider's guide.

"The rich diversity of our neighborhoods make the city different from other cities in the world," Burden said. "This gives people destinations and shows them how to get there."

Funded by federal grant dollars, the map is part of a larger campaign to get more New Yorkers to use bicycles as a means of transportation. Burden said plans for a Bronx map are in the works and hopes to create similar ones for the other boroughs.

The Queens map includes four routes with highlights from nine different neighborhoods in the borough.

"Our staff went out on bikes and documented everything they thought was interesting and pared it down," she said. "So when you bike through Astoria you can also stop and get some of the best grilled fish and baklava."

One 6-mile route takes bikers though Flushing Meadows-Corona Park and some of the surrounding neighborhoods.

A shorter 2-mile jaunt weaves through Long Island City and Hunter's Point.

Another 7-mile route includes Corona, Jackson Heights, Woodside and Sunnyside.

Along the way are stops at the Public School 1 MoMA Contemporary Art Center, Astoria Park and even the Lemon Ice King of Corona.

The map lists more than 50 destinations with photos and a list of nearby bicycle shops.

The map can also be used as a walking guide, Burden said. And in certain areas, such as the bustling "Little India" section of Jackson Heights under the 7 train, cyclists should probably take a break and walk their bike for a few blocks.

Advocates, who are lobbying the city to increase the number of bike lanes, said they were happy to see the city create a borough-specific map.

"Whether it's free bike parking provided at movies in Socrates Sculpture Park, or the Queens Museum of Art's penchant for all things bike, I think bicycling is becoming a big part of the borough's landscape," said Wiley Norvell of Transportation Alternatives.

"What better way to show that transformation than linking places best seen by bike and the streets that are increasingly safe to ride on?" he added.