Hudson Greenway “Cherry Walk” Users to Remain in the Dark

cherry2.jpgNighttime visibility on the Hudson River Greenway north of W. 102nd Street has not improved since Jacob-uptown took this photo a year ago.

In the fall of 2007, 2008, and again this year, Streetsblog readers have alerted us to hazardous conditions on the "Cherry Walk" segment of the Hudson River Greenway. According to the city, no major improvements are in the offing.

Due to the absence of lighting, once clocks are rolled back for daylight-saving time the Greenway between W. 102 and W. 125 Streets is plunged into darkness during the evening rush. Making matters worse is the glare of headlights from the Henry Hudson Parkway. Writes Upper Manhattan commuter Brad Conover:

The combination of no lights on the path and oncoming headlights of southbound traffic makes it impossible to see the bike path. There should be three new lines painted marking north and southbound biking lanes, not just one line separating bikers from pedestrians with no indication as to N/S-bound bikers, and there should be lights on the path and/or hedges to block the lights of oncoming traffic. I am sure someone is going to get seriously hurt on that path through no fault of their own.

Jacob-uptown, who sent in photographs of the area last year, was informed in a January 2009 letter that DOT would be recommending that the Parks Department include Cherry Walk lighting in its next round of capital construction contracts (though Parks previously indicated to Streetsblog that such a project would fall under the purview of DOT). Aside from some new shrubbery that "only helps a bit," Jacob reports that no changes have been made since last fall.

Last week, DOT told Streetsblog that defective highway lights along the Cherry Walk stretch would be replaced, but said there are no plans to install lighting on the Greenway itself.

  • WaHiCyclist

    An email I received nearly a year ago (12/18/08) from NYC Park’s Riverside Administrator John Herrold.

    We are seeking funding to apply reflective striping along the entire Greenway in Riverside Park, including Cherry Walk. In addition, we have recently planted some eighty new trees between 100th and 125th Streets, and are considering where shrubs might be placed to block headlights as warranted and appropriate.

    We have discussed the lighting in this area with the Department of Transportation, which owns and maintains park lighting as well as that along the Henry Hudson Parkway, and advised them of the concerns expressed by cyclists. They report that the ambient light level provided by the highway lighting is consistent with their standards for such a location, and at present there are no plans to add lighting along Cherry Walk.

    If you would like to discuss this matter further, please do not hesitate to contact me directly. Thank you again for taking the time to write.

    Sincerely,

    John Herrold

    Administrator, Riverside Park
    New York City Department of Parks & Recreation
    24 West 61st Street, 5th floor
    New York, New York 10023
    p. 212.408.0264
    John.Herrold@parks.nyc.gov

  • Brian

    Part of the section of the greenway in Riverside Park just north of 59th St under the highway also seems to be dark, though I haven’t ridden it at night in a few months.

  • Brad Aaron, thank you for the writeup of this ongoing problem. In previous years, Streetsblog has made it more clear that it is the blinding headlights of southbound motor traffic that make it difficult to see heading uptown on this stretch of the Greenway. I was a little doubtful until last summer, when I rode that portion with a good headlight and still couldn’t see anything.

    I now exit Riverside Park at West 95th St and take Riverside Drive the rest of the way uptown. It’s quiet, well-paved and well-lit, and honestly, I feel safer at night riding through streets than through parks.

  • Ok, I understand the city’s facing tough economic times but they could dramatically improve the Cherry Walk for after-dark cyclists with some simple fixes that would be wise infrastructure investments.

    (1) Per Brad Conover’s suggestion, use *highly reflective* paint to denote the bicycle path. The paint needs to be reflective enough to be clearly visible whe a bicycle front light is illuminated. Add bicycle and pedestrian icons at regular intervals to clarify how the lanes are supposed to be used.

    (2) Add posts with mounted reflectors at regular intervals. Wooden posts would blend aesthetically with the surrounding environment.

    Neither solution requires installing or maintaining any new electrical infrastructure.

    As for the email from John Herrold, a year has passed and where is the “reflective striping” the Riverside Park Administrator promised for the Cherry Walk? Can the city not afford a little paint and elbow grease in exchange for saving people’s lives?

  • It is unbelievable that they have not done anything to address in the short term the serious safety issue posed by a pathway with no lighting or reflective material that splits in multiple locations and detours around trees located directly in the middle of the trajectory of the oncoming traffic! I’ll bet a close inspection of the trunks of those trees would reveal evidence of collisions. Couldn’t they just stick a reflector on those trees, for starters?

    I’m glad I don’t have to take that path home at night. But I’ll try to find time to write up my comments in a letter to Mr. Herrold. Someone who uses this path more regularly than I should set up a project in Livable Streets Initiative so that all the letters and other resources concernign this problem are in one place.

  • Brian: lighting under the Henry Hudson, in Riverside South, was restored about two weeks before election day. It may not be ideal but it’s avast improvement over the total darkness and cloth covered fencing we had before the park was opened to the public.

    As for Cherry Walk, adding some warning signs that the area should only be used at night with lights might also be a good idea. Pedestrians in particular, especially small children, are nearly impossible to see in the dark. Last year I nearly hit a toddler who was dressed in dark colors and walking along the green line. The only reason I slowed down was because I saw the silhouette an adult who was with the child.

  • LN

    for years I avoided this on my ride home to washington heights. Now I regularly ride it, knowing I am risking a crash every time (and I’ve had some close ones).

    Reflective striping would help a lot. So would signs in either direction at 125 and 103.
    southbound: ‘Please be aware that northbound cyclists cannot see you, please have lights!’
    northbound: ‘Please be aware that due to headlight glare and lack of lighting, visibility of this area is near zero you need a front light to avoid hitting people and trees.’

    FYI northbound riders: Theres a big bump in the greenway just before you have to quickly veer right to avoid hitting tree #1 in the middle of the greenway.

    I’d be willing to show up to a tree-planting, stripe-painting DIY workday.

  • a

    I concur – this area is absolutely terrifying at night… i have almost (a) run into a tree (b) run off the bikepath completely, and (c) almost ended up in the hudson river…

    At a MINIMUM there should be reflective striping on left, center, and right sides of the path…

    Incredibly dangerous.

  • CH

    Any efforts to convince DOT and Parks to address this situation need to focus first and foremost on the glare from southbound headlights. The “meets ambient light standards” argument from DOT needs to be debunked because darkness is not the primary issue. Right now, headlights on bikes do nothing going northbound except (hopefully) alert southbound cyclists and pedestrians.

  • Could Times Up! or some other group of concerned citizenry hold an impromptu bike ride action to bring more attention to this situation?

  • I lived at 146th St. this summer, and the path was completely unrideable after dark if I stayed downtown late, even with a very bright headlight, as headlight glare from the Parkway would completely destroy any semblance of night vision.

    I would usually hop over to Riverside in that case, but Riverside was usually just about empty after dark during summer. Now that rush hour’s after dark, getting up to 146 would be a lot more trouble.

  • Here’s a wild idea that I’ll describe as an attempt to emphasize that the problem is not a lack of lighting, it’s just that all the light is blinding you in the eyes instead of illuminating the path.

    Imagine if there was a small wall built on the edge of the road that had an angled mirror catching the light from car headlights and channelling it as defused light to a higher mirror providing overhead light for pedestrians and cyclists on the path. It would be like a continuous periscope redirecting the light from headlights. Of course, this wouldn’t be consistent light, but it also wouldn’t require electrical infrastructure.

    Again, I really just wanted to describe this to emphasize that the problem is as much with the blinding light as it is with the lack of light on the path itself.

  • I wrote a letter to the head of the Riverside Park fund today, and then stumbled upon this while doing some research.  I suggested some low-cost alternatives.  Even installing reflectors into the ground would be a huge help.  Possibly some reflective, glow-in-the dark paint, too.

    I am pleased to report that there are now bike lights that get me home safely at night.  For the past two months I’ve been using CREE LED lights, one very expensive light (listed over $200,, but I found for $139 on Ebay) by a British company called Magicshine (1600 lumens) and another, similar light (1000 lumens, including a blinking mode) made by some Chinese company that I found on Amazon for $65 and then on Ebay for $33.  Both have four power settings, use rechargeable battery packs that strap to the bike, and use O rings to attach to the bike (no tools used).  I also have a helmet mount.  If I ride with these lights on high when there are people around, I get cursed at!  However, for the Cherry Walk stretch in the dark, I’m using them at full blast.  It’s like having the sun in front of me — I no longer have to count on having memorized potholes — and the oncoming glare of the cars no longer ruins my ride.  I ride the Greenway daily, year-round, between 158th Street and 34th Street.  

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