Bicycle Sundays: Dreams Do Come True for New York City Cyclists

Catching a Bicycle Sunday along the Bronx River Parkway is one of the best ways NYC cyclists can spend a September weekend.
Catching a Bicycle Sunday along the Bronx River Parkway is one of the best ways NYC cyclists can spend a September weekend. Rich Mitchell
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Pretty much every biker has wished at one time or another for all the cars on the road to disappear. No more noise, no more exhaust, no more close calls with a fender or an opening door. Just you and the roadway. Good news, your wishing has paid off and your dreams have come true.

For 41 years, Westchester County Parks has worked with the city to close down the Bronx River Parkway to motor vehicles on a handful of Sundays from May through September for a little event called Bicycle Sundays. From 10am to 2pm on September 13, 20, and 27 (previous dates this year included May 3, 10, 17 and 31, June 7, 14, 21, 28) this six-mile stretch from Westchester County Center in White Plains to Scarsdale Road in Yonkers is opened for bikers, walkers, and runners. It's just like you imagined: there are no trucks, no fumes, and no fear of being hit, just a scenic, smooth 12-mile out and back on the highway.

This is a great ride for families and bikers of all ages and abilities. The road is well-maintained and smooth so you don't have to worry about potholes and bumpy terrain. And, the rolling ups and downs are fun, and not steep enough to make it overly challenging. And the vibe is encouraging and very community-based with new bikers, veteran riders, and folks from a variety of bike clubs around the city all participating and encouraging one another.

While this ride is very unique and not-to-be missed—because when else do you get to ride down the middle of the highway?—twelve relatively easy miles may not be enough to quench the needs of the more hardcore cyclists out there. So, why not incorporate these 12 miles into part of a longer ride?

The Bronx River Trailway in Westchester, N.Y.
The Bronx River Trailway in Westchester, N.Y. Audrey Lynne Shares

Westchester County Parks has an extensive trails program, which includes three great bike trails somewhat nearby the highway—the Bronx River Pathway, North County Trail, and South County Trail. The easiest way to add your extra mileage from the Parkway is to hop onto the Bronx River Pathway, a 16.3 mile paved trail, which runs parallel to the highway and is a favorite of local bikers and runners.

While the path is right near the highway, it also meanders alongside the Bronx River, which makes for a peaceful and scenic ride. Riding up to the Kensico Dam Plaza in Valhalla along the Pathway will add an extra 10 miles to your ride and the dam itself is a perfect place to take a break. There are benches and great spots under and at the top of the dam where you can catch some great views before you head back. The nice part about this trail is that even if you can’t make it to one of the upcoming highway to trail days, you don’t have to worry, the Bronx River Pathway is open year round.

North County Trailway
North County Trailway George Bremer

While the North County Trailway is not connected to the Bronx River Pathway you can ride over to it and play around on the 22.1 mile rails to trails ride up to the border of Putnam County. It offers a scenic ride down an emerald tree-lined corridor. Sure you’ll hear cars and pass over roadways but most of your ride will be cocooned in mile after mile of trees. If you choose to head south on the North County Trailway, you will eventually hit the 14-mile South County Trailway, which will bring you to the border of New York City and into Van Courtland Park . This is a great spot to access the trails if you live in Manhattan.

The Easton Park and Ride (which you’ll hit if you take exit 23 off the Saw Mill River Parkway North) is the dividing point between the North County Trailway and the South County Trailway. It is also a perfect place to park for access to both sides of the trail.

Whichever route you decide to ride to extend your Bicycle Sundays ride, just remember that the parkway opens up to motor vehicles again promptly at 2pm. So be sure that you have a plan to get back to your car in time.

Parking for Bicycle Sundays is best at the Westchester County Center in White Plains.

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