NYPD Ticketing Cyclists for Late-Night Hudson River Greenway Commutes

NYPD is ticketing cyclists riding on the Hudson River Greenway after 1:00 a.m., which is the Parks Department’s citywide closing time, according to a reader who was stopped by police on the greenway last night.

NYPD shut down the Hudson River Greenway as a functional transportation route last night after 1:00 a.m. Photo: ##http://www.flickr.com/photos/yourdon/4677877851/##Ed Yourdon/Flickr##

A Streetsblog reader who gave her name as Ellen says she was commuting home at around 1:30 a.m. early this morning when she saw a police cruiser blocking the path near 72nd Street. She had heard that officers were ticketing cyclists for using the greenway after 1:00 a.m., so the encounter wasn’t entirely unexpected.

“He didn’t ticket me, but gave me a warning,” Ellen writes. However, she says the officer’s partner gave tickets to other riders that passed by during that time. The officer told Ellen that riders are putting themselves at risk of attack by riding in the park after 1:00 a.m. “I told him we are commuting home on the safest route possible,” Ellen said. “I said I would rather take my chances in the park than on the street with the drunk drivers.”

Calling the rationale of getting cyclists off the greenway in the name of safety “just plain nuts,” Ken Coughlin, who serves on the transportation committee of Community Board 7, which covers the Upper West Side, noted that the greenway is “the cyclists’ equivalent of the Henry Hudson Parkway.”

“Sharing streets with motor vehicles is more dangerous for cyclists in any case, but it is far more dangerous late at night when drivers tend to go faster and are more likely to be impaired,” he said.

It’s hardly the first time that Parks Department policy has conflicted with the greenway’s role as a transportation artery. A few years ago, the department banned biking on greenway access paths linking to Riverside Park, but later reversed the decision. After a nor’easter last November, for instance, the Parks Department decided to shut the path entirely. Now, police enforcement of the 1:00 a.m. curfew is diminishing the benefits of improved lighting on the greenway between 59th and 72nd Streets, which NYC DOT installed in February, encouraging evening and nighttime cycling.

South of 59th Street, the greenway is owned by the New York State Department of Transportation, and remains open 24 hours a day.

Parks Department spokesperson Philip Abramson confirmed that Riverside Park and Riverside Park South, including the greenway, close at 1:00 a.m., but referred other questions to NYPD. Streetsblog has inquired about the ticketing with NYPD via phone and email, but has not received a reply.

UPDATE:  CB 7 chair Mark Diller told Streetsblog, “It’s of concern that the greenway is not open at all hours, if only for the reason that streets get more dangerous after dark.” Because the path is a major route for cyclists north of 59th Street, Diller would like to reach some kind of agreement with the Parks Department, and will be meeting soon with the parks administrator to address this and other park issues.

  • After all, cars are the most dangerous things on the street, and that’s
    what drives bike traffic onto the Greenway even in the wee hours.

  • LN

    Just adding a few details – I am white and did not get a ticket, but the guy I later rode uptown with on Riverside Drive was Hispanic and got a ticket. We were forced out of the park right there, so had to carry our bikes up some steep stairs. The cop suggested if I was afraid of cars on the street that I should ride home on the sidewalk.

  • moocow

    I have been told that too, and to ride the wrong way. This from the front line of law enforcement

  • Anonymous

    I think most dream of putting in 20 years and then retiring with a generous pension.

  • Matthias

    Agreed–there is hardly any lighting in some spots, and this is a serious safety issue. When I was riding north around 9pm one night I was blinded so many times that I was terrified of riding into the rocks.

  • Matthias

    Actually, CPW/FDB has bike lanes in both directions. That’s it, though.

  • LN

    The Central Park and Prospect Park Conservancies and Hudson River Trust have decided that these parks close at 1am – the NYPD is enforcing laws written by unelected private entities.

    I have also been forced out of Central Park after 1am

  • Anonymous

    CPW only has a bike lane going north. FDB has a nearly invisible bike lane up to W121st St. From there, you can take St Nicholas Ave which has a relatively decent bike lane. Columbus Avenue has a nice bike lane but it’s only one mile long (it’s supposed to be expanded, though).

  • Harald

    Yep, that was Portland (or rather Gresham, OR to be exact): http://bikeportland.org/2009/01/08/fhwa-says-springwater-trail-closure-decision-must-be-reversed-13036

    According to the article it can’t be just any kind of federal transpo monies but only from specific programs. Might be worth looking into, though.

  • Ian Turner

    Looks like most of the greenways in NYC were built with federal CMAQ funds, which means they must be open 24×7.
    “The majority of the recent projects to plan and build the greenway have been funded through the federal government with matching funds from the City of New York through the Congestion Mitigation
    Air Quality (CMAQ) Program of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) and its successor, the Transportation Equity Act of the21st Century (TEA-21).”
    http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/pdf/transportation/mwg_full.pdf

    Does anyone have a contact at USDOT who we could contact about this?

  • Anonymous

    Our idiotic government at work

  • Anonymous

    stupid government BS

  • Absurd because there are long stretches of the greenway where you can’t see the highway (and vice versa) north of 132nd Street all the way to Dyckman/Riverside.

  • irene

    that’s brilliant — and then they can ticket you for riding on the sidewalk

  • cristalpolanco

    i know right like for real

  • anonymousbro

    there’s too many incompetent and under-trained imbeciles in american police departments.

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