Hudson Greenway “Cherry Walk” Still Dark and Dangerous

cherry1.jpgStreetsblogger 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 between W. 102 and W. 125 Streets. Wrote Lars:

It is unlit and, if riding northbound, into the blinding headlights of
southbound traffic, it is impossible to see the bicycle path even with
a bike headlamp. The Greenway itself has one semi-reflective line
marking the pedestrian lane from the bicycle lane. There is not a line
marking the outside edges of the lane or a couple of grassy islands
along the way. Its easy to find yourself suddenly off the roadway and
in the grass or trees.

As illustrated by these photos from Streetsblog photo contributor Jacob-uptown, captioned with his comments, Greenway users are still in the dark nearly a year later. A press officer with Parks said the department is "aware of this issue," and told us that DOT should be in the process of addressing it. We have a message in with DOT and are awaiting word.

cherry2.jpg"This is the same view as [the photo above], except with the flash turned on. If you look closely, you can see that the path splits right ahead of you, and if you go straight, you will run into a tree."

More photos after the jump.

cherry3.jpg"If you look very very closely, you can see the faint green line painted on the ground that shows the path turning left. That is what my eyes are fixed on when I ride through this section of the path."

cherry4.jpg"This is the same view as [above], except with the flash turned on. Now you can clearly see that the path turns left."
  • I could swear that when I first returned to cycling four years ago that there was a white reflective line that ran straight up the middle along with the usual cycling and skating logos on which are used on other sections of the Greenway. The green line was actually to separate cycling area from pedestrian space. We had a lot of snow that year and by the time Spring rolled around the lines were gone and this section hasn’t been repainted since.

    Of course good reflective road markings would only provide a bare minimum of safety. The area really needs better lighting and perhaps more hedges to deflect blinding lights where the path runs so close to oncoming traffic.

  • It seems some brilliant person placed driveway reflectors on the 2 “islands” on this stretch. They are slowly disappearing.

    They don’t show very well anyway. Maybe some pink flamingos would work better, or a santa with reindeer.

  • At the very least, some low-cost solutions not requiring electric lines could be implemented immediately:

    (1) reflective paint defining the lane boundaries
    (2) reflective posts (as one sees on highways)

    I also agree with Stacy that hedges between the path and the automobile roadway would block out the blinding headlights.

    Ultimately, of course, proper lighting would solve the problem.

    The same problem exists further north on the Greenway near the GWB between roughly 162nd and 165th streets.

  • I do not ride the greenway at night for this very reason — it’s way too easy to accidentally ride right off the pavement and lose control. The street is much safer.

  • J

    The really dark stretches are the same ones that have stretches of burned-out highway lights. If NYSDOT or NYCDOT simply replaced the burned out lights on the highway, it would do a lot to fix this problem.

  • AaronJ

    I rode this once at night and will never do it again. One low-cost stopgap would be to paint the green line around both sides of the two “islands” in the greenway with the trees on them. This suggestion was made in the letters column of the old TA magazine a few years ago.

  • I just got back from riding Cherry Walk, southbound, in the dark, and was amazed by how well my new 5 led Grog blinkie was able to light up those driveway reflectors near the islands. If DOT installed some of that industrial grade reflective material onto the guard rails it could make a real difference.

  • Fendergal

    This is why I always exit the greenway at 96th and finish my commute home on Riverside Drive. Even if there were lights on the greenway, the glare of the oncoming cars’ headlights would continue to blind anybody riding northbound. The curviness of the Cherry Walk might be pleasant in the daylight, but at night, it is a recipe for disaster, especially given those trees in the middle.

  • i’ll admit to never having ridden this stretch… but all the MUPs here in burlington, vt are unlit (except @ street crossings)… and while we don’t have trees and planters and landscaping down the center of them… we do have crap pavement, manhole covers, curves, trash, downed branches, and trees and roots to either side.

    wouldn’t some proper bike lights help tremendously?

  • Plus imagine if you used a high powered LED or HID headlight that would allow you to see the path while facing oncoming traffic.

    I freak out drivers all the time when I ride with mine while on the street going WITH traffic. Facing the oncoming cars while on the path you with such a light you are sure to freak out drivers coming towards you, since they are libel to think that there is an oncoming car or motorcycle head straight towards them!!

    While a bidirectional sidepath is an appropriate treatment at this location I do have concerns when they are used in surface street applications in suburban settings for the exactly the problem I point out above. Never mind the other issues of bicycle / motor vehicle conflicts at intersections and driveways.

  • Andy B – perhaps we’ll have to grow up as a bike riding nation and start looking at bikes as vehicles and develop some standards similar to the Germans when it comes to lighting … I have several German lights – both dyno and battery powered – they typically use optics which shape the beam much like a car headlight and throw the light on the road where you need it… even a 3w E6 light can put out enough light to ride unlit dark country roads… and with the new LEDs that are dyno powered there are even more options for light just where you want it.

  • Michael Steiner

    Ignoring crime-aspects of road lighting, i don’t think the cherry walk needs lights but cyclist should equip their bikes with proper lights (it’s not only the law but also an important safety aspect, not only for you but also for your fellow road users).

    However, i completely agree that the glare from Henry Hudson is painful riding north, no matter how good your lights. Putting up hedges & trees might have the additional benefit of noise reduction (and, if tall enough, might even reduce speeding, at least if what Tom Vanderbilt in Traffic regarding sound barriers on page 116 is true 🙂

  • Re: #12, I disagree. I have always ridden the Cherry Walk at night with lights running on my bike, and they are not powerful enough to illuminate all the hidden hazards of the path.

  • Ken

    I just rode this stretch last night, heading south. Despite a blinky and a moderately priced headlight, I ran off the path once and almost into a tree.

  • Michael Steiner

    Urbanis (#13), i did not say that right now a good light is sufficient for the cherry walk. However, the current problem is the more glare and less the lack of (any) street lighting. A bicycle should be equipped with a light which allows not only to be seen but also to see. But i guess having grown up in a rural area this is somewhat (too) self-evident, certainly judging from the average NY cyclist where you have to be glad if they have any lights at night … 😉

  • it isn’t just coincidence that more accidents occur where there is inadequate lighting. also it’s dangerous on so many levels.

  • Mike,

    Agreed. I have a half dozen or so lights, from modest LED and halogen headlights (I don’t use the halogen anymore, better as a flashlight) to a super high powered Nightrider HID system that has a beam pattern best suited for technical trail riding (throws light all over the place). Believe it or not I rarely use the HID light anymore even though I spent $400 on it (almost a shame really). I’ll have to check out those German lights the next time I visit family back in Bavaria. They sound really neat!

    No mater the headlight however I always use a fairly basic rear blinky LED but I do have a Planet Bike Super Flash which is really awesome but more prone to theft.

    Anyway, I had a thought after reading the suggested of bushes along the highway. I doubt either the NYC Parks or DoT would go for an impenetrable hedgerow but what about some fat bush every 20 or 30 feet. At an acute angle to the line of the road, the bushes would overlap blocking the glare of the headlights without walling off the Cherry Walk from the road. Also some of those paddle shaped glare blockers that are positioned perpendicular to the road and use the same acute angle concept could be mounted to the guardrail.

  • Another reason why a half dozen DOT top officials who are all making over $100,000 a year did not deserve the raises Bloomberg gave them a few weeks ago, two days before he ordered job freezes.

    DOT claims that safety is their top priority. What a joke!

  • Bernard Marx

    I hate to say this, but I don’t think this is a solvable problem. If you’re riding northbound, you face directly into multiple headlights, from multiple angles, all of which are aimed to their right. [Vehicle headlights are supposed to illuminate the right side of the road more brightly than the left in order to avoid blinding oncoming traffic and in order to make signs (which are usually on the right side) easier to see.] Even with better street-lighting (which isn’t going to happen for a variety of practical reasons), cyclists would still be blinded by the on-coming headlights, which is the real problem here. Potentially, hedges or something similar could be planted, but this would obstruct the view of the river from cars (I know, boo hoo), and would almost certainly be strongly opposed. I don’t think there’s a practical alternative to exiting the path at 96th street after dark.

  • Ken Campbell

    I have ridden this stretch and faced the glare of oncoming headlights in the dark of autumn evenings. I upgraded my bike lights and made it possible to see the route but never felt fully safe – I took it slower and still had close calls with oncoming bikers. I have to agree that there is no good solution short of a ground lighing system.

  • John Deere

    I ride this section every night on my way home, and have done so for the past 4 years. Each year I’ve complained to DOT about burned out street lights. I’ve also asked Parks to install better striping around the edge. Having tired of waiting for DOT to fix the burned out lamps over the highway (which does make a difference), and for parks to install some real striping, I fixed the problem (at least for myself) by pouring some money on it, in the form of 2 separate 200 lumen lighting systems, costing about $120 each. Problem solved. I now have enough lighting to light up the path well ahead of me, and cut through the glare of on-coming headlights. Modestly priced LEDs and Halogens don’t cut it in this section. Also, it helps a lot to slow down, and not outrun your vision.

    My lights? Cygolite Rover II LED on the handlebar, and Dinotte helmet mount light.

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