I discovered that NYC is relatively friendly.
Central Park is probably one of the greatest places to skate I have ever come across if one is looking for serious training. However, because of the hilly nature of the loop, it would definitely not suit beginners or weak intermediates. The full loop will have you climb the Great Hill which is really not that huge, but it is still about 1/2 mile of climbing. One has to be comfortable sharing it with hundreds of people (most of them on bikes and jogging shoes). Cyclists are for the most part friendly, runners as a whole are a disgraceful lot and several are plain idiots as well. Cyclists warned me when I started ("you might think we (the cyclists) are not that friendly, but wait until you get to experience the joggers..."). They were 100% spot on. They basically carry to the CP the arrogance of New Yorkers who think they are entitled to everything and the others have to move aside. Serious runners are fine, they know trail etiquette and want to avoid any chance of injury, but the joggers are like the plague.
To avoid putting up with the asinine joggers, I tend to skate very early in the morning during weekends (although they often have some cycling event going on in the early mornings in the Summer months) but, I would say that around 7:30am -9am might be good. During weekdays, I can only skate after 7pm when the park is closed to cars. Watch out for police cars though. In a couple of instances, I experienced a reckless police car at work. It created more havoc than one can believe, sudden U-turns, stopping in the middle of the road while I was going downhill. Also, careful in the Southern part of CP for horses' manure and carriages for lazy tourists.
Humidity and heat can be a problem on some days, but that also keep many joggers at hom. Good riddance!
The loop is 6 miles and quite demanding if you are not in shape.. But once you can skate there with confidence, you are really ready for a lot of things.
Skating in the streets is possible, but not my kind of bread.. Some do, for sure, but not me. Sorry, I am a chicken as opposed to the asinine joggers
Dogs and dog owners are by far and large a better lot than joggers. Joggers in CP are the scurvy of the century (past and present and probably future).
I just hope that medical sciences will soon discover that jogging is bad for your health and they will hit some other fad.
What out for tourists around the museums areas! They are not bad people, in principle, but they are doing the tourists, snapping pictures, and do not always pay attention to incoming traffic when crossing inside the park. And children are children, so be careful.
I would not skate when traffic is allowed in Central Park. On a flat course perhaps, but sharing the lane with pedestrians, runners, cyclists and skaters on a hilly course, in my opinion, is asking for trouble. But NYC (unlike London in England for example) allows a good use of its main park and the traffic-free hours are really a big deal for skaters. Hey London... learn from NYC!!
Street skating can be exciting and, unlike in Las Vegas, nobody with a big pick up truck (perhaps a big Mercedes S550 or even a Maybach if you are lucky, but not pick up trucks) will chase you with the not so secret purpose to terminate you. New Yorkers (Manhattanites really), while arrogant, can be also very tolerant and normally do know how to drive a car. But watch out for the potholes, in particular in Lower Manhattan, .... I have seen a few so deep that if you had the bad luck to get in, you may never be heard or found again!
Other venues... Prospect Park in Brooklyin is a little CP, pretty nice. I cannot say I like to go there for it is quite a commute from where I live, but it is definitely an excellent venue to skate. Probably second best after CP. Same architect projected both parks! (Who said that skating does not go well with some general knowledge?)
You can also skate a few miles along the East River, but it is narrow and the pavement is so and so. To make a long story short, the East River Trail is more adequate to do some low level fitness than anything else. Also watch out for broken glass. Dodgy characters like to get drunk along the trail in the evenings and do not pay attention to etiquette, any kind of etiquette. You will be getting into Harlem (Spanish Harlem), but so far I think that people there have proved quite respectable, despite some New Yorkers warned me that I would not feel safe. The environment, moving from the Upper East Side to Harlem, definitely becomes less appealing, but people are not.
Plus, I am used to joggers in CP and it cannot really get any tougher than that!
Another trail definitely worth doing (not for speedskating though) is the Hudson River Park. Very scenic, well worth trying for the scenery and as a way to experience NYC. I really like it. It gets packed, but if you keep the speed withing reason. In places the path splits between a pedestrian route and a bike route, but unless you can break on a dime (and I cannot,
), better be safe than sorry. Watch out for tourists.