5 Ways to Get Down 5th Avenue

5 Ways to Get Down 5th Avenue

New York City's 5th Avenue might be a one-way street, but as I've found, there are more than a few approaches to heading southbound down Manhattan's east side.

In preparation for this Sunday's New Balance 5th Avenue Mile, I tested out five different ways to get from East 80th Street—near the Metropolitan Museum of Art—to East 60th Street and Grand Army Plaza, all to find out which route was the fastest. I recorded video of each trip, and here's how it all went down.

Option #1: Bus

Directions: After walking down to the stop at East 79th Street, you can take the M1, M2, M3, or M4 bus, and then get off at ...oddly enough, West 59th Street.

Review: It took less effort than the other routes I would try out later that day, but getting stuck in traffic makes you wonder if it would be quicker to just get out and walk.
Total time: 17 minutes, 55 seconds

Option #2: Taxi

Directions: Hail a cab, give your destination as Grand Army Plaza or 60th Street, and then try not to be embarrassed for taking a taxi barely one mile.

Review: I'll be honest with you guys, after sitting on the bus in traffic, I wasn't about to recreate the experience in a cab. Call this one a no contest/DNS, and assume it would take somewhere around the same time.
Total time: n/a, or likely around 17 minutes and 55 seconds

Option #3: Subway

Directions: This one is the least direct of all, what with 5th Avenue not having a subway running underneath it. Anyway, as the video will show, walk down to 77th Street, across to Lexington Avenue, get on the downtown 6 train, get out at 59th Street, and walk back to 5th Avenue.

Review: Just walking to the 77th Street station and then back from 59th Street, I covered almost 3/4 of a mile. This route gets you to Grand Army Plaza eventually, but there are definitely more efficient ways of doing this.

Total time: 21 minutes, 44 seconds. Fun note: If you combined all five of Jenny Simpson's winning times from the 5th Avenue Mile, you would only finish four seconds ahead of her here.

Option #4: Bike

Directions: Get on a bike at East 80th Street, ride it to East 60th Street while obeying all traffic commands (i.e. no "Idaho stops" for this test).

Review: It's a nice ride when you're not weaving around traffic or getting stuck in it.
Total time: 8 minutes, 17 seconds. If you combined the two slowest winning times from the 5th Avenue Mile men's pro race—4:10.0 by Elarbi Khattabi in 2004 and 4:05.4 by Ben Kapsoiya in 1998—you'd still finish a few meters behind.

Option #5: Run

I think you all could see this one coming.

Directions: Start at East 80th Street and run a straight line down to East 60th Street.

Review: Much like the taxi option above, I didn't 100% follow through on this one, but I have run the 5th Avenue Mile three times before, and the average of those times comes out to 4 minutes and 30 seconds.
Based on that, I can say that running is the best—and probably fastest—way to get down 5th Avenue (...so long as you don't see the finish line at 70th Street and start your kick way too early, like I did the first time I ran it).
Total time: n/a here, but on average, around 4 minutes, 30 seconds

In Summary

Option Time
Bus 17:55
Taxi n/a or 17:55
Subway 21:44
Bike 8:17
Run n/a or around 4:30

As the data shows, the fastest way to get down 5th Avenue is to run.

...and what good timing, you've got an opportunity to see for yourself this Sunday!

Sign up today for the New Balance 5th Avenue Mile and race down 20 blocks of Manhattan—trust me, it's the best way to do it.

(And if you're out of town, you can catch the pro races live on NBC from 1:30 to 2:00 p.m.)

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