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Cycling from Prospect Park to Coney Island

Whitby, Ontario
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Cycling from Prospect Park to Coney Island

We're going to NYC next June for the first time :)! We both like to cycle (although we are in our late fifties and only just started cycling in the last two years ;)). We've cycled around London and Toronto and are looking forward to making that part of our NYC experience. We are staying in midtown Manhattan (Koreatown) and my thought is that we could jump on the subway and get to Prospect Park and then rent bikes and ride Ocean Parkway down to Coney Island and back (getting a hot dog at Nathan's while we're there!).

Any advice from those who have cycled that route? I've read conflicting reports on the state of the cycling path. Also read a bit about the difficulty of navigating the traffic circle to get on the bike path at the south end of the park, so would like some input on that from those familiar with the area. And lastly, is my idea of taking the subway to Prospect Park the best way to get to that point?

Brooklyn, NY
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1. Re: Cycling from Prospect Park to Coney Island

The bike path is lovely and very easy to navigate. It's covered much of the way, but there are streets to cross at various intersections along the way, and there are terribly inconsiderate pedestrians who insist on walking or pushing their strollers down the bike lane. Just keep an eye out, and feel free to yell at them as you go past. Make sure you stay on the right hand side of Ocean Parkway as you go down towards Coney Island, the left hand side is the runner/pedestrian path. (I feel free to yell at bikers using it as a bike lane when I'm running on it.)

The only question I'd have for you is, where do you plan to rent bikes? You'll need to know in advance where you're going: there aren't obvious bike rental places in the park, and the park is pretty big, so you could take the subway to the park and still be a mile or more from where you need to be to pick up your rentals.

Whitby, Ontario
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2. Re: Cycling from Prospect Park to Coney Island

Thanks for the reply. I was looking at Juice Pedaler for the rentals so would be leaving from that point to get onto the bike path.

Brooklyn, NY
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3. Re: Cycling from Prospect Park to Coney Island

Juice Pedaler is a good choice, just make sure you get off at the right subway stop. You'll want to get off at the Fort Hamilton Parkway stop on the F train, near the back of the train if you're coming from Manhattan.

Olney, Maryland
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4. Re: Cycling from Prospect Park to Coney Island

Note that there is a Prospect Park Station on the Q and B train, and a 15 St. Prospect Park station on the F. YOU DO NOT WANT THOSE!! As BB said, Fort Hamilton Parkway, the back of the train exit, Greenwood Avenue.

Look at a map of the neighborhood. You will note that Prospect Park itself is quite large. The first station I mentioned is at the eastern side of the park; the second station is at the northwest corner; the station you want is at the southwest corner of the Park.

While it looks on maps that the station is near E. 5 St and Ft. Hamilton Parkway, the east end of it (the back of the train) is at Greenwood Avenue and E. 7th St. Note that the bicycle path along Ocean Parkway starts at Church Avenue and Ocean Parkway, which is not all that well-connected to Park Circle (new name: Machate Circle). That first 1/3 mile of Ocean Parkway from the Circle to Church Avenue is an expressway. I would take side streets to Church Avenue (note that Ocean Parkway is a replacement for "E. 6 St."

Ocean Parkway has a main road in the center with 7 lanes of traffic. Then it has two wide islands: one for walkers, the right-side island for bicycles (and walkers who don't pay attention). Then there are two little one way service roads with parked cars on both sides (basically, each service road is the size of a regualar street in Brooklyn. Finally the sidewalks and the houses and apartment buildlings.

You can go straight down Ocean Parkway for 4 miles. When it curves right, it goes right to the center of the Coney Island Amusement area. You can bicycle back or take the F train with your bicycles back to Ft. Hamilton Parkway station. There are ramps in the Coney Island Subway station; you don't have to carry it up stairs there, but you do at Ft. Hamilton Parkway. Or get off a Church Avenue and get a slice of pizza; there are hundreds of stores at that corner. You could also bicycle around Prospect Park; it is closed to cars on the weekends. Note that the road in the park is one way counter-clockwise, and the north side is uphill from the south side.

Also the supposedly best pizza place in NYC is DeFara's Pizza at E. 14 St and Avenue J. (Church Avenue is like Avenue A, then a lot of alphabetical Avenues (like Beverley, Cortelyou, Ditmas... Glenwood, then it's all lettered avenues at Avenue H).

The original Nathan's Hot Dogs is still at Coney Island,but the building on Surf Avenue has been abandoned (due to Hurrican Sandy), and a fresh clean, crowded, pleasant Nathans is on the Boardwalk itself, down the street that goes to the ocean from the Coney Island-Stillwell Avenue Subway station (like W. 14 St.) You can't bicycle on the Boardwalk, but you can walk it on the Boardwalk. And yes, despite facing directly south, you are looking at the Atlantic Ocean.

Type "Greenwood Avenue Brooklyn" into Google Maps, and get a view of the neighborhood. It is as squared off as downtown and uptown Toronto.

Olney, Maryland
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5. Re: Cycling from Prospect Park to Coney Island

One more extra thing to do while going down Ocean Parkway. When you get to past Avenue Z, look for an elevated train (after the elevated highway) at Brighton Beach Avenue. If you detour to the left (towards higher numbered "East" streets for a half-mile or so, it is a Russian neigborhood with Russian restaurants, grocers, toys, jewelry, gifts, souvenirs; that neigborhood is called Brighton Beach, and it has turned into what many call :Little Odessa". Where else can you get takeout Chicken Kiev, broiled potatoes, and a cup of borscht or schav to carry over to the Boardwalk for lunch? The biggest supermarket -- with steam table carryout (like a Russian Loblaw's) -- is just after the elevated train turns off the street into a private right of way; when you see sunlight, the supermarket is just past Coney Island Avenue (which does not go to Coney Island) on the left.

Edited: 27 December 2013, 16:19
Whitby, Ontario
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6. Re: Cycling from Prospect Park to Coney Island

Thanks to both of you! That is all excellent info and any more tips etc from the folks here are very much appreciated! Thx again :)

Brooklyn, NY
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7. Re: Cycling from Prospect Park to Coney Island

There's actually a very easy connection from the park circle to the bike path. You come off the park circle by the TD Bank, and follow the bike path up the overpass over the Prospect Expressway. It's a covered path. Come down in front of the Immaculate Heart of Mary church, turn left onto East 5th Street. This is the only block of this trip without a bike lane. At the next corner, turn left again onto the bike lane on Caton Avenue. Cross Ocean Parkway, and turn right onto the pedestrian path on the left hand side of the expressway, on Ocean Parkway. This is the continuation of the bike path on Ocean Parkway itself, but it's shared with pedestrians, so please be courteous. At the bottom of the hill, the bike path turns right and crosses Ocean Parkway again. This is the split between the pedestrian path and the bike path, the bike path continues on the right hand side and the runners' path is on the left of the highway. PLEASE don't just continue on the runners' path, if you do I will be there to yell at you. :)

Enjoy your ride!

Olney, Maryland
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8. Re: Cycling from Prospect Park to Coney Island

To be clear: I believe "covered path" = "paved path" (compared to a gravel or dirt path), and not one with an awning :^)

Olney, Maryland
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9. Re: Cycling from Prospect Park to Coney Island

If you have a lot of time, or are bringing your own bicycles from Ontario on a car (which is possible), there is also the bike path on Eastern Parkway, which goes straight east from the northeastern corner of Prospect Park for about 2 miles; same width and description as Ocean Parkway, but doesn't go to any particular destination.

The traffic circle up there ("Grand Army Plaza" of Brooklyn, not the "Grand Army Plaza" at 5th Ave and 59th St in Manhattan) is really interesting; you could spend 15 minutes looking at the Arch (believe it or not, the one in Paris is modeled after it), and the bust of John F. Kennedy inside of it, and the 8 lanes of traffic circling it, and the little park in the middle, and the service road paths, and the interesting apartment houses surrounding the circle. Oh did I mention the main branch of the Brooklyn Public Library is on the Ciricle, too and is bigger and fancier than almost every other "main branch of a public library" in the country?

Brooklyn, NY
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10. Re: Cycling from Prospect Park to Coney Island

No, "covered path" means "physically separated from cars," like with a concrete barricade, or on a greenway. The Ocean Parkway Greenway is a covered path because it's a separated path on the sidewalk. The bike path on the overpass over the expressway is covered because there's a concrete barricade between it and the car traffic. The path on Caton Avenue isn't covered, because it's just a designated bike path along the row of parked cars in the street. It's still paved, and a designated bike path, it's just not physically separated from vehicular traffic.