A meeting of Manhattan Community Board 7’s Parks and Environment committee Monday night touched on several items of interest to the thousands of cyclists who use the Hudson River bike path, including the last remaining gap below the George Washington Bridge and the dangerous lack of lighting on some stretches of the greenway.
The long-awaited extension of the bike path along the river between 83rd Street and 92nd Street is slated for opening "around Memorial Day," according to Riverside Park Administrator John Herrold. The path will be 14 feet wide and will be striped for bike lanes and walking lanes in both directions (four lanes in all). This is the final section of the path to be completed between Battery Park and the George Washington Bridge and will mean that cyclists no longer have to make a 10-block detour into Riverside Park before rejoining the path.
As many commuting cyclists know all too well, lighting is nonexistent on the path between 63rd Street and 72nd Street and on the Cherry Walk some 35 blocks to the north. Herrold is aware of the problem in both areas. Between 63rd and 72nd, he’s working with the DOT to install lighting similar to what’s currently on the path between 59th and 63rd. He expects this new lighting to illuminate the way by the time the days grow shorter in the fall. Cherry Walk is more of a challenge, because the installation of electric lights there would be quite costly due to the lack of electrical hookups. Herrold is investigating solar-powered lighting, and in the meantime he’s considering putting reflectors on some of the trees.
Meanwhile, the potential for greater conflict between cyclists and pedestrians may be developing on the path near the Pier I Café at 70th Street. The café uses a service facility on the east side of the bike path to store food and supplies, and a permanent restroom facility is being constructed on that side of the path as well. In addition, a Bike & Roll bicycle rental station will soon be opening a few steps to the north. All of which means that foot traffic crossing the path will likely increase at what is already a sometimes crowded bike-ped intersection. Herrold is aware of the potential hazards when fast-moving cyclists mix with pedestrians who walk into the path without looking, and he’s considering speed humps to slow the faster cyclists down, as well as additional signage for crossing pedestrians.