To those who enjoy their status as breathing, sentient beings, riding a bicycle in New York City can be daunting. Aggressive taxis, delivery trucks and carelessly opened doors create a minefield that makes casual cyclists want to hang up their Schwinn. But New York can be safely navigated. Though it's painfully inferior to European cities, it does have a growing network of relatively safe bike lanes (thanks largely in part to Mayor Bloomberg). Ride the City, currently in beta form, is a site launched earlier this month to help aid the process.
Much like Google Maps or HopStop, Ride the City takes two addresses and details the shortest route between them. But unlike the aforementioned sites, it zeroes in on existing bicycle lanes and ignores inhospitable roads like the Queens Midtown tunnel or the BQE. Users can choose between the most direct route, the "safe route" (as many bike lanes as are convenient) and the "safest route" (more bike lanes, especially designated "greenways"). RTC adds "caution" signs as well when the route traverses portions that have a history of accidents.
I used the site to map out a ride to work, and it was remarkably close to the route I've painstakingly devised over numerous trips back and forth. It did, however, faithfully abide by the direction of traffic on a couple portions where I usually go against the tide. Which isn't a bad thing. It's comforting to know that the site treasures my well-being even more than I do.