You could surf the Web, read a book or venture out on foot to learn all about Brooklyn, but how much more exciting is it on a bike? Get Up and Ride: Brooklyn Bike Tours, which launched last summer, has done all the research in a handful of quirky, intriguing tours of the city's most populous borough. Tours are small, with eight or nine people, and all guides are licensed and live in the neighborhoods being toured. Here are five things to know about the tours.
1. Tours use Brooklyn's system of bike lanes
In recent years, new bike lanes have been created throughout New York City, and Get Up and Ride's tours primarily use Brooklyn's dedicated bike lanes on streets with and without car traffic. These include some highways and cobblestone streets, as well as smoother paths. Since the areas of Brooklyn toured are mostly flat, cyclists encounter only the smallest of hills, but just in case, bikes are easily maneuverable seven-speed PUBLIC bikes. Helmets are included.
2. Tours cover history and the latest news
A general 4½-hour Brooklyn tour ($85 per person) visits neighborhoods such as Williamsburg, Greenpoint, Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO. Well-versed guides share stories about culture, history, architecture, restaurants, nightlife, significant sites and current events, delivered to cyclists on walkie-talkies and headsets. The tour includes a visit to the Brooklyn Grange, one of the world's largest rooftop gardens, and guides point out the new work of one of the city's most enigmatic and infamous street artists, Cost. Guides share stories about the battle over bike lanes between some Hasidic Jews and passionate cyclists and renegade bike-lane painters, among other tales.
3. Tours stop for sightseeing and food sampling
Dazzling views of Manhattan and Brooklyn landmarks abound, with many stops for photo opportunities. The general Brooklyn tour includes lunch at Best Pizza in North Williamsburg, as well as Brooklyn Roasting Company in a moody, cavernous former warehouse in DUMBO. Bikes come with rear racks and baskets for holding souvenirs, and the final leg of the weekday tour is a refreshing boat ride back to Williamsburg on the East River Ferry.
4. Art and brunch tours are the latest offerings
While tourists tend to flock to the general Brooklyn tour, Get Up and Ride now offers tours to engage locals. They include the Brooklyn Pulse: Urban Art and Culture Tour (about three hours, $59), which examines the emerging art scene and industrial canvasses of Bushwick and Williamsburg, and the Brunch in Brooklyn Bike Tour (2½ hours, $65), which visits local hidden bakeries, cafes and breakfast joints, and includes chocolate tasting at Brooklyn's hometown chocolatier, Mast Brothers in Williamsburg.
5. Customized tours are available
Current tours are aimed at cyclists ages 16 or older at least 5 feet tall. And while the leisurely tours don't require a high level of fitness, some might be uncomfortable with the pace or proximity to traffic. Get Up and Ride also offers private tours that can be customized based on participants' interests. Group size determines price.
GET UP AND RIDE
Get Up and Ride has no physical storefront, so tours are booked online and start in Williamsburg in front of the King & Grove Hotel on North 12th Street between Bedford Avenue and Berry Street.