Archive for transportation

All About Columbia, NYC and Bicycles

I may or may not live a further from campus than the average student, but I delight in my commute to Columbia: a seven-mile bike ride through New York City, 14 miles round trip. Sounds terrifying exhilarating, right? Here’s why biking is great.

Biking is Fast.

New Yorkers tend to be impatient about getting places. Prime ways to get around campus: Walking (invest in comfortable shoes if you haven’t already); NYC subways and buses (get your MetroCard once you’re in NYC!); the (electric!) intercampus buses.

But one of the fastest ways factoring in your route and traffic? Biking. From the Columbia School of Social Work on 122nd St. to the Hungarian Pastry Shop on 111th, walking those 11 blocks will take 11 minutes, while biking will get you there in 4.

Biking is Convenient.

You don’t even need to own a bike, to bike. Citi Bike is NYC’s bike-sharing service (and the largest bike share program in the U.S.). The bike docks are located all across New York City and is ideal for quick trips. Their app also makes it convenient to find the nearest dock with real-time bike availability, and you can unlock a bike with the app.

If you do own a bike, Columbia offers free bicycle parking enclosures, which also has bike repair tools and tire pumps (there’s an enclosure that is a 2-minute walk from the International Affairs Building). Don’t want to show up sweaty to class? You can get a Commuter Shower Pass at the Dodge Fitness Center for just $38 a semester. Columbia also offers bicycle store discounts, free bike registration with public safety, and many more perks.

Biking is Fun.

Of all the cardio exercises, biking has to be near the top in terms of enjoyability. New York City has some beautiful bike paths: The Hudson River Greenway trail, which is separated from car traffic, is on the West Side, and Central Park is teeming with cyclists. This is even without all the trails in Brooklyn!

If you’re already on campus or will be here before Orientation, take advantage of Summer Streets. On the first three Saturdays of August, 6.9 miles of Park Avenue will be closed to cars and open only to cyclists, pedestrians and joggers. You can bike through NYC landmarks normally closed to pedestrian traffic like Grand Central Terminal, and there will be free food, activities and giveaways along the route.


Always remember to put Safety First when you’re biking. The Morningside Heights neighborhood is easier to bike in since there’s less traffic and pedestrians relative to busy areas like Times Square. Still, this is the big city, and you should always put safety first:

  • Wear. A. Helmet. You’re going to really need your brain for Columbia. If you don’t have a helmet, use your Columbia ID at nearby bicycle stores for a 10% discount.
  • Obey traffic rules and be predictable. NYC is a busy and dense place, so along with following traffic rules, don’t make any sudden swerves in and out of traffic. It’s dangerous and the traffic around you can’t always account for it.
  • Be Aware. Someone flings open their taxi door into the bike lane, or a pigeon flies into your face — you can’t predict what’s going to happen around you, so be aware. This means no headphones or texting while biking, too.

A bike-friendly Columbia means less traffic and parking congestion and an improvement in health of the University. Improving and encouraging healthy commute alternatives will be an ongoing mission on campus as part of our Sustainability Plan. So grab your helmet and have fun exploring New York City by bike!

5 ways to get around Columbia University

Figuring out transportation can be one of the most intimidating aspects of visiting a new city. New York City has one of the most streamlined, yet oftentimes complicated transportation systems in the country (and possibly the world). New Yorkers love the convenience of the subway system, but hate the complications that a soggy or snowy day can easily creates in its wake. OK, ok…I won’t freak you out too much.

Actually, after a couple of trips from Point A to Point B it’s pretty easy to get the hang of how the transportation works in the city, as former PA Allison Walker explains in a recent blog post. And I’ll prove it. Columbia University has a few tips on getting around not only the city, but on how you can make commuting from your apartment to campus all-the-more easier. Here are 5 ways to get around Columbia University.


1. Get An MTA Card
There is no shortage of transportation options in and around the greater New York City area and beyond, thanks to the MTA and the New York Waterway.

According to the MTA, mass transit helps New Yorkers avoid about 17 million metric tons of pollutants while emitting only 2 million metric tons, making it perhaps the single biggest source of greenhouse gas (GHG) avoidance in the United States. Visit the MTA website for subway, bus, Metro-North and Long Island Railroad schedules and service announcements.


2. Take A Stroll
Walking is the most basic form of transportation, and it’s one of Columbia’s preferred commute modes. Walking is a terrific way to travel for both your health and for the environment. Pedestrian activity and street life adds to the vibrancy, health, and safety of our communities. Walk on, Columbia. (Hint:Use the walk mode in Google Maps to determine a walking route, distance, and timing.)

Walking is faster than you might think

  • 10 blocks (0.5 mile) takes about 10 minutes to walk.
  • Most people walk about 3 miles per hour or 1 block per minute.
  • Walking between avenues takes about 3 minutes.


3. Bike to Campus
New York City is rapidly expanding its bike-ability. In 2015, NYC reached over 1,000 miles of bike lanes. New York City doubled bicycle commuting between 2007 and 2011, and aims to triple it by 2017. At Columbia, with over 1,000 bike commuters, bike commuting has more than doubled since 2004. The growing bike culture and bike lane network is a move towards safer streets and increased transportation options.

By bike it takes about:

  • 4 minutes to bike 10 blocks
  • 21 minutes to bike between Morningside and CUMC, via the car-free, Hudson River Greenway. Map route
  • 15 minutes to bike between the Upper East Side and Morningside. Map route
  • 8 minutes to bike between Morningside and Manhattanville. Map route


4. Take the Intercampus Shuttle
The Intercampus shuttle runs Monday through Friday, excluding University holidays. Get real-time shuttle location and arrival information from any computer or smartphone using TransLoc. Track the Columbia buses in real-time at or download the free TransLoc Transit Visualization app to access information while on the go, including real-time location of all buses and announcements of potential service disruptions. Shuttle route maps may be downloaded here.


5. Carpool With Classmates
Carpooling allows you to share the cost and driving responsibilities of your commute with another passenger. This page provides information and tools to help you find carpool partners and help you learn about the incentives that support carpooling.

Want more tips for getting around campus this fall? Visit Columbia University’s Transportation website at For admissions questions, please do not hesitate to contact our office at 212-854-6216 or [email protected].

Commuting to Columbia University’s campus

We often discuss the wonderful diversity of students at SIPA on this blog. That diversity means students are moving to New York from all over the country and the world so inevitably one of the first questions admitted students have is about where they should live. Read More →

"The most global public policy school, where an international community of students and faculty address world challenges."

—Merit E. Janow, Dean, SIPA, Professor of Practice, International and Economic Law and International Affairs

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