NYPD Tow Pound is Still a Major Source of Greenway Danger

As Transportation Alternatives recently noted in an essay for Streetsblog,
more than a year after the death of Eric Ng, the alphabet soup of government agencies
responsible for the Hudson River Greenway, have done almost nothing to fix glaring safety  problems along New York City’s most important bike route.

Photographer and bike commuter Lars Klove encountered one of the worst of these problems Tuesday evening when a Lexus sedan accelerated past him just yards away from where Carl Nacht, a 56-year-old doctor was killed by an NYPD tow truck in 2006.

Klove sends along the following note describing the incident and photos showing how little is being done to warn motorists not to hang a right on to the Greenway as they exit the Tow Pound.

Yesterday evening, around 5 pm, I was riding northbound on the Hudson River Greenway when I encountered a white Lexus driving southbound. I started waving and yelling at the guy to stop and the driver accelerated and continued southbound. The car then pulled into the lot at 34th Street and exited onto the Westside Highway.

The car had made a right turn out of the NYPD Tow Yard on a red light.

This morning I stopped by the yard to see what kind of signs there were to identify the Greenway to motorists coming out of the Tow Yard. There are none. There is only a cold little orange cone, where the pedestrian lane has a large iron mooring hitch.

greenway002.jpg

  • Bike Runner

    Oh, I’m sure the f*cker saw you. And he KNEW he was on the greenway. He was taking what he deemed a traffic-free “shortcut”

    Next time you observe that behavior, stick out your key and ride next to him.

  • epc

    How hard would it be to surreptitiously drop a jersey barrier where the cone is?

  • Josh

    I could swear there used to be a flexible bollard where that cone is. Maybe some driver decided to ignore it and knocked it off its moorings?

  • ln

    I rode all the way down the greenway yesterday at around 6pm– and I noticed THAT ALL THE GREENWAY BOLLARDS HAVE BEEN REMOVED! And replaced by insignificant orange cones.

    I must have been there a few days before and they were all up. The minute those protections are gone, meager as they are. The cars start claiming this space as their own.

    We know that they (who are they?) are able to put them up again very quickly when they want. Eric Ng was struck by a drunk driver speeding down the path and killed at about 9pm. By 9am the next morning (when the press started looking for the bollards, which had been detached for months) they were all up again.

  • Will

    Josh, you’re correct. There should be one there.

  • There really should be steel bollards in place. Spaced to prevent motor vehicles but wide enough to allow bikes to pass quickly. This is ridiculous, it’s a Class 1 bike route!

  • els

    I’ve noticed that the plastic bollards are removed every winter. I always thought it was to allow for snow plows (the bike path is always plowed really quickly), but have often thought there ought to be another solution. It’s not unusual to see a taxi on the path.

  • Sproule

    I often see cars parked in the bikeway apparently after dropping off people to pick up their cars at the tow pound. That and drivers turning on to the bikeway is outrageous, but I also see riders blow through that intersection when the light is red, even when a big NYPD tow truck is heading out. The tow truck drivers, on the other hand, are invariably considerate and cautious. This is no doubt due to the cyclist deaths there, but they still deserve credit for behaving better than riders.

    I would say this is true up and down the bikeway, where I’ve commuted nearly every day for two years. For the most part drivers seem to be recognizing that riders on the bikeway deserve some attention. I even get some respectful responses when I ask drivers blocking the bikeway to back up. Although we all know that an errant driver might kill someone, while an errant cyclist may only hurt themselves, cyclists are NOT helping the movement by riding like morons.

  • Hilary

    Could the solution be one of those railroad crossing barriers that go up and down? It wouldn’t impede plowing or park vehicles, as a bollard would, and is unambiguous about right-to-proceed. It’s unfortunate to have to make either vehicles or bicycles wait when there’s no need, but bikes can always “slip around” it when it’s obviously safe. In any case, they will have been forced to be alert, and cars will be kept out..

  • Sainsbury

    Wednesday night, around 7 pm, I riding south on the path along side the Chelsea Piers and was passed by black SUV headed in the opposite direction. I turned and chased the vehicle. It was a disoriented, middle-aged woman who was completely lost. She stopped to ask the traffic attendant at the entrance to the Piers what to do. If the flexible bollards were still in place she might not have endangered the joggers and cyclists that evening. I wanted to report the incident, but didn’t know who to call. While she was confused and none too bright, it’s not entirely her fault to drive down the bike path when only a blackened cone is prevent her. How do we get the bollards back?

  • beng722

    I’m on that bike path 2-3 times a week, mostly weekdays and mostly late morning or early afternoon. I don’t recall ever seeing these little cones – I may have just not noticed them but I really think they’re just not there that time of day. I remember the bollards after the tragedies but they’re long gone. they seemed to be effective.

  • Josh

    Sproule wrote:
    “Although we all know that an errant driver might kill someone, while an errant cyclist may only hurt themselves, cyclists are NOT helping the movement by riding like morons.”

    That’s not entirely true – errant cyclists pose a danger to pedestrians and other cyclists as well. Clearly not as much of a danger as errant drivers, but it’s there.

    It does make sense that the bollards need to be movable in some way in order to enable plowing. I like the idea of a retractable steel bollard, something along the lines of this or this.

  • flp

    regarding the cyclists that “blow” the red lights, the thing one needs to keep in mind is that the traffic signal synchronization SUCKS! sorry, while i personally excercise caution, i do not blame many people for thinking, “why the F should i wait for the light signal when the cars still have the red light?!” sure, one should still pay attention to whether an auto may the right of way, and a dangerous situation should be averted.

    as for “errant” cyclists, let’s not down that road again, at least not here. why? because i feel that auto drivers refuse to have the same discussion (as far as i know), so why should cyclists?! i know that is an unproductive attitude, but, really, the true onus is on auto drivers to change their habits.

  • flp

    whoops…. “may HAVE the right of way”

  • That intersection is just north of where I turn of the path, so I don’t encounter it daily. But that facility is a complete blight on the greenway, and there is a severe visability problem – expecailly with the chain link. A solution would be to design the intersection more like the Peir 40 where there is great visability and a clearly marked bike lane. This area is still a construction site, which doesn’t help. Also, unlike Pier 40 where visitors are attending park-related activities, these drivers are already distressed by their parking experience, and presumably there is a high percentage of drivers who regularly flaunt traffic laws. an aweful combination.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Labor Day Bonus Pic: Hudson River Greenway Bollard at Work

|
Via Gothamist — check out this bollard on the Hudson River Greenway at work. One of the strange and dangerous things about the greenway is that car traffic crosses the car-free path at several points. Twice in 2006, motorists killed people using the greenway. On December 1, 2006, cyclist Eric Ng was run down by […]

Mary Beth Kelly: From Tragedy to Advocacy

|
Mary Beth Kelly’s story is as inspirational as they come. In June 2006, she and her husband Dr. Carl Henry Nacht were bicycling home from dinner on the Hudson River Greenway in Chelsea when an NYPD tow truck turned sharply into the bike lane at 38th Street and 12th Avenue. Despite signs telling drivers to […]

Scenes of Mindless Bike Enforcement From “Operation Safe Cycle”

|
NYPD’s bike ticket blitz, a.k.a. Operation Safe Cycle, is halfway through its two-week run. The department has promised to target “hazardous violations that create a danger for pedestrians and cyclists,” but the accounts pouring in from readers suggest that police haven’t raised their game since the last flurry of bike enforcement. While it’s tough to get […]

Hudson Greenway “Cherry Walk” Still Dark and Dangerous

|
Streetsblogger Jacob-uptown: "You can see many of the street lamps on Henry Hudson Parkway are burned out. This makes the greenway completely unlit, except for oncoming car headlights." Last December, Washington Heights resident Lars Klove alerted us to night-time conditions on a segment of the Hudson River Greenway known as Cherry Walk, which lies roughly […]