New July Design Tour Dates Added!

Photo of Governors Island promenade by Trish Mayo.

The June bike and tram tours of the Park and Public Master Plan with designers from the West 8 team and GIPEC were a huge success, so we’re adding more dates.  This month, tours will be given by Leslie Koch (she blogs here somethimes, but is mostly the President of GIPEC) and landscape architects from Mathews Nielsen , who will be working with West 8.

The tours have been a great because they give you an opportunity to talk about the design with the people who are most involved, and they give us a chance to listen to what you like and don’t like -or understand – about the design. Of course, if you can’t make it out for a tour, there are many other ways to let us know that you think. And keep checking back on this blog for new events and opportunities.


During the the one-hour long tours you will tour the Island and discuss the vision for the design of the new spaces, including the Hills, Liggett Terrace, the Great Promenade, and greens spaces in the Historic District, which are included in West 8’s design of the park and public spaces. If you are interested in one of the tours, please sign up in advance by emailing us at by 5pm on the Thursday before the tour you wish to attend. All tours are first come, first served. Please include the word “Tour” in the subject line of the email.

TOUR SCHEDULE (don’t forget to sign up in advance!):

Sunday, July 11 10:15 AM: Tram Tour

Sunday, July 18 11:15 AM: Bike Tour

Saturday, July 24, 11:15 AM: Bike Tour

Active by Design

Last week, the New York City released its new Active Design Guidelines.  The guidelines provide architects and planners with strategies to create designs that promote physical activity for better health. The guidelines are the first in the City to focus on the role of design in combating obesity, which is one of the most urgent health crises facing the city today.  Many of the strategies are common sense, and many are supported by academic research, but all use design to help us find ways to incorporate healthy activity into our daily lives. West 8’s park and public space design  for Governors Island will feature a number of these strategies, and we’ll show them to you in a future post. But first, here are some of the ways Governors Island is already making it easier and more fun to get your heart rate up:

We chose play equipment everyone can enjoy, even grown-ups.

Signs showing walking time to different destinations on Governors Island help people decide whether they can walk to their destination or wait for an electric tram. Providing people with information to make decisions is an important active design strategy.

All of our more than five miles of car-free roads are scenic. You can't help but choose to take the long way home.

Having flexible spaces and great programming partners are another strategy. Here, RECESS hosts a badminton tournament on Colonels Row.

We believe everyone should have the chance to ride a bike on Governors Island. Bike and Roll's Free Bike Fridays have put more than 18,000 people on bikes.

Just looking at the kale at Added Value Farm on Governors Island is good for you.

Tweed Indeed!

Today’s  New York Times Thursday Styles section has a gorgeous spread of tweed-wearing dandies in tintype photos shot on Governors Island a few weeks back. The accompanying article details the trend toward an Victorian aesthetic. In a related note, we’d like to know when the Tweed Ride to Governors Island is happening. Obviously the Island’s closed now, but we can’t believe there isn’t someone willing to rally the dandies come next May. Perhaps our friends at the Michael Arenella’s annual Jazz Age Lawn Party want to step back a few decades and indulge us with more antiquarian antics?
tweed bike

Tintype Photograph by David Sokosh for The New York Times; Photographed on Governors Island, New York

One for the Record Books

Running for a bike on Bike and Roll's Free Bike Friday
Running  from the ferry to grab a free bike from Bike and Bike and Roll

Wowzers! Bike and Roll™, this year’s sponsor of Free Bike Fridays, put more than 900 people on bikes for FREE this past Friday! This was our busiest Friday yet. Every Friday between June 5 and October 9, visitors can borrow a bike for free, for up to one hour.  After the first hour, regular rental rates apply. More than 200 bikes are available for the program this year- including kids’ bikes with training wheels and baby seats and carriers.

Some people take their free bikes pretty seriously, finding the right position on the ferry and sprinting from the dock down Carder Road to be the first in line for a free bike. It’s no running of the bulls, but  the “running of the bikes” became become a regular spectacle of last year’s Free Bike Fridays. This year, with 200 bikes available, there’s no need to run for your bike. 

Still, we’ve come up with a new strategy. We’re calling it  the “Water Taxi Beach wait.” If you stop at the new  Water Taxi Beach  for an ice cream before you go for your bike, you’ll avoid the crowd of people who make a bee-line for the bikes. . .

HGTV: “10 Things That Make Me Happy”

This cute post was just forwarded to me. Bike and Roll’s bikes, which they sold at the end of the season, were #1 on this list: Ode to Domino: 10 Things That Make Me Happy. You know what makes us happy? Happy people visiting Governors Island and being happy.

Bike and Roll Bikes

Bike and Roll's bikes make us happy too.

Posted using ShareThis

Free Bike and Kite Weekend: September 19-21


Bikes and Kites! What could be more delightful? Free bikes and kites! Come to Governors Island this Friday, Saturday and Sunday (September 19-21) and borrow a bike for up to one hour for free all weekend long. Bikes are limited and are available on a first come, first served basis. Transportation Alternatives, which currently sponsors Free Bike Fridays, is also sponsoring Free Bike Weekend.

The first 250 visitors each day will also be given a free kite to fly on the Island’s Parade Ground.

Biking is one of Governors Island’s most popular activities, with one in five visitors borrowing, renting or riding a bike here. Free Bike Fridays has been an enormously popular program, particularly with day camps and children’s groups, attracting thousands of visitors to date. On Fridays, visitors can borrow a bike for free for up to one hour, while on Saturdays and Sundays, visitors can rent a bike for a small fee.

The Island is open on Fridays from 10-5 and on Saturday and Sunday from 10-7. The ferry to the Island is, as always, free to the public and leaves from the Battery Maritime Building.

Labor Day Getaway

Last Friday, I met some folks who had taken an extra day off before leaving for their summer vacation just so they could do Free Bike Fridays on Governors Island and bike Summer Streets the next day. They were the poster children for NYC and Co’s Go Local! campaign that encourages New Yorkers to take advantage of all the great things there are to see and do right here in NYC.

To me, those “staycationers” were one sign that we’re starting to shed a little of our cool-but-creepy reputation and becoming a bona-fide destination. In fact, we’re well on our way to being a “must-see” according to a really great article in the New York Post over the weekend. Another terriffic story by the AP that echoed the Governors Island getaway theme was picked up by papers around the country last week: Escape By Ferry to Governors Island. Both articles really capture what it’s like to spend a day out on the Island.

Labor Day weekend is traditionally the last weekend of the summer, though the Island will be open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday until October 12th. If you haven’t taken our free ferry over, hopped on our free bikes (on Fridays) and free kayaks, appreciated our free art, picnicked on our shady (and free) lawns, or swooned at our dramatic views – now’s the time!


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