Riding in Central Park

The fine folks at Travelzoo have posted a local deal for a Central Park Bike tour, through Central Park Sightseeing. It’s not a bad deal: $22 for a two-hour tour through the park’s major sites. Once you buy the deal, you get a voucher for the tour that’s good through next March.

The offer page shows an image of the Central Park Boathouse that simply screams “fall.” We see a young red-headed man, wearing a red sweatshirt, riding a yellow bike on a sparkling autumn day with peak fall foliage. Only the blue track pants clash with the autumnal colors. The location of the image, the Central Park Boathouse, is an especially familiar site because it’s where many club rides start and where we started our Turkey ride on Thursday.

The park, however, doesn’t resemble that bucolic image. Having been there two days ago, there is no foliage in Central Park. With the temperatures hovering in the 30s and leaves all gone, the park is bitter and barren. You may also want to look out for ice. The weather might change by March, when most procrastinators would actually use their voucher, but it could still be very cold. There might be blossoms by March, but I swear we didn’t get those until mid-April this year. Riding in the cold can be fun, but don’t expect the setting of a rom-com.

An NYC Rom-Com subsidized by tax breaks

Back in March, I had a beef with the image used by this same company posting a similar offer through Travelzoo. This image peeved me because it shows some pretty terrible bicycling behavior.

Although Central Park sightseeing provides a helmet, these riders aren’t wearing them. I’m not one to scream at people for not wearing helmets, but these riders don’t seem to have the best bike handling skills. I can’t tell if the guy on the right is turning or about to jerk his front wheel so he can fly over the handlebars. Helmets are designed for this very type of rider (also road cyclists traveling at 30 mph and mountain bikers who are one downhill away from eating it).

The biggest offense in the image is actually their chosen terrain: the pedestrian paths. Why is this ad encouraging casual bike riders to take to a pedestrian path in Central Park? The park has over six miles of perfectly good road to ride around in circles. Rather than create a hazard for people walking on a pedestrian path, these novice riders can anger runners by darting into their paths and spandex-toting roadies, who made the mistake of doing laps after 8:00 AM, by clogging up the fast lane or riding the wrong way.

And you’re robbing them of the true Central Park bike riding experience.

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