12g. TRANSPORTATION--BICYCLES & BOATS
There are plenty of places to rent bicycles, especially near Central Park. I was shocked to learn how cheap they can be. You might need to leave a credit card or identification behind for collateral, but it shouldn't be much more than about ten dollars an hour. I don't recommend this as solely a means of transportation, unless you're very used to riding a bike in a large city. Even if you are, it can be extremely dangerous. We have gotten many miles of new bike lanes recently, but we're not yet at a point where motor vehicles and self-propelled ones can move together in complete harmony. For seeing the park, however, this is a fantastic idea.
A couple of times I spotted people rolling around on a conference bike. Either they were unpopular, deadly, illegal, or all of the above. I have no idea, but I really hope they retired them because they're absolutely idiotic on the streets of Manhattan.
Another self-propelled mode of transportation worth mentioning is rowboats. Getting a rowboat in Central Park with two or three friends is very inexpensive and a boatload of fun. [Ugh, that was so awful, sorry.] You can keep them out on the water as long as you want (for a fee), but this means that sometimes there can be a queue of people waiting for boats. Before you enter the park, stock up on wine and cheese or beer and sandwiches, just not so much that you fall out of the boat. Surrounding the park are some of the most exquisitely beautiful (and expensive), turn-of-the-century high-rise apartment buildings in the world, and from the lake is one of the best places to see them.
Although it's very much off the beaten path compared to most of what I'm discussing in these posts, I wanted to mention the kayaks because I just think it's so cool. The Long Island City Boathouse gives out free kayaks in the summer months at high-tide that you can paddle out into the East River. For visitors who may be more active and adventurous but are on a tight budget, I think it's fantastic that they're doing it. I haven't taken advantage of it, myself. I prefer canoes to something that can flip over so easily. I may very well talk myself into doing it one of these summers.
©2013, Ryan Witte