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Regardless of age or riding ability, everyone should have the option of incorporating a safe, convenient, and healthy bike trip into their daily commute -- especially in compact cities where the distance between people's homes and workplaces tends to be short and bikeable.

In New York City, the DOT is making bike commuting a more attractive choice for a wider variety of people by installing a network of "next-generation" bike facilities. The city has moved past striped bike lanes and on to innovative configurations like two-way, parking-protected on-street bike paths that separate cyclists from traffic and keep lanes clear of obstructions.

Commutes that were unthinkable to most New Yorkers a few years ago are becoming attainable, and cycling into downtown Manhattan is on the rise. To keep up with the changes and find out where the best and safest routes are, one resource that helps is the NYC Cycling Map. You can use this freebie to not only link up with the best streets for biking in your neighborhood, but also to find alternatives and experiment with your riding. You'll be amazed how easy -- and safe -- it can be.

So, to inspire and cajole you into trying out a two-wheeled trip to work, I decided to hop on my Batavus Dutch cruiser and show you my new commute from Jackson Heights, Queens all the way to the Streetfilms offices in lower Manhattan via the Manhattan Bridge. It's a hardy 11 miles each way, and yet almost 90 percent of the journey is on some variety of marked bike route. Even better, about five miles is on completely separate car-free bicycling paths. It's no wonder that many days I arrive at work in a zen-like state.

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