I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked how I get to the Hudson River Greenway from Riverdale, which is such a shame because it’s actually so close and requires traveling down very few streets with very light traffic. Conversely, I also see many cyclists stopping at the Northern terminus of the Greenway and turning around. A few days ago a couple of skinny cyclists on fast bikes wearing expensive kit stopped me and asked me if there was any worthwhile cycling to be had at the bottom of the stairs. Truth is, cycling to Riverdale will have a lot more going for it once the Parks Department paves the Putnam Trail, but even before that opens, Riverdale has a lot of scenic and quiet streets for anyone not afraid of doing some hill climbing.
The most commonly known route to the Greenway, and the one that Google recommends, takes one down Riverdale Avenue, across 231st St to Broadway, then across the Broadway bridge and through some busy Kingsbridge and Inwood roads along the way to the stairway entrance at Riverside Drive and Staff St, a block South of Dyckman St. In a few more months hopefully the stairs will be replaced with a ramp at Dyckman and Staff, so pretty soon this route will involve zero stairs. Nevertheless, I would not recommend this route for beginners or leisure cyclists.
Instead, a far more pleasant and nearly traffic-free ride is attainable by taking the Henry Hudson Bridge to Inwood Hill Park. From Riverdale, enter a half block South of 227th St and the Henry Hudson Parkway West frontage road. It’s a bit hidden if you’re not actively looking for it, but across from the sidewalk there’s about 5 stairs leading up to a (technically pedestrian) path across the bridge. At the end of the bridge, continue straight down a huge hill, then continue straight again down and back up another hill, before crossing a bridge with about 10 stairs up and 40 stairs down across the Amtrak rail line. Finally, turn around after the stairs and continue out Inwood Hill Park to Dyckman St. From there, the construction of the ramp described earlier is clearly visible, but for now, take a one block detour up Staff St, and you’re there! The route is 100% paved and, aside from some stairs, is very bike-friendly and relatively lightly trafficked by joggers or cyclists, though occasionally a baseball game in the park will attract hordes of kids talking and not paying attention to my repeated calls to get out of the way.
For those coming from the Greenway, the route to Riverdale involves a few additional tricky turns. First, coming down the stairs, be sure to make the first available left at the next two intersections, first down a steep hill on Staff St (with a stop sign at the end, ugh!), then onto Dyckman. The park entrance at the end of Dyckman can’t be missed, but inside the park there’s some more tricky maneuvering. The key is to keep to the right until you reach a group of about 40 stairs to cross the Amtrak rail line. After the stairs, be sure to avoid going through underpasses, and make a right at a fork immediately after a steep down-up trip through a valley. After this fork there will be some serious climbing, and it was only about 2 months after I started riding regularly that I was able to make it up without dismounting. At the end of the climb you’ll find the bridge and then you’re practically in Riverdale.
So that’s it! Now get out there and ride the Greenway! Or come up here to Riverdale and tour the neighborhood. With a slow zone recently installed, it’s more bike friendly than ever before.