Parks Department Detours Hudson River Greenway in Harlem Until December

The closed section of the path, looking north from 133rd Street.

The Hudson River Greenway between 133rd Street and 135th Street in West Harlem is closed until December, with users instructed to use 12th Avenue as a detour during the greenway’s busiest warm-weather months.

Detour signage instructs greenway users to travel via 12th Avenue.

Detour signage has been placed on the greenway as users approach the closed section, though our tipsters said there was no warning signage in advance of the closure.

The closed section is along a seawall bulkhead, while nearby sections are not immediately adjacent to the riverfront. It also passes a Department of Sanitation facility and a natural gas facility, both of which are located on the river and connected to the path by pier structures.

This isn’t the first time the Parks Department, which manages the Hudson River Greenway, has shut down sections of this key cycling artery to Upper Manhattan. A few years ago, Parks banned biking on greenway access paths linking to Riverside Park, but later reversed the decision. Last year, rehabilitation of a bridge over the Amtrak corridor threatened to shut the path entirely north of the George Washington Bridge. After a nor’easter last November, the the department decided to shut the path altogether.

Streetsblog has asked the Parks Department why the path is closed and what kind of work will be taking place there. We’ll let you know if we hear anything back. Update: A utility company will be performing construction work at the site, according to Parks Department spokesperson Phil Abramson. “The work is not happening on parks property but they need room for construction staging,” he wrote in an e-mail.

  • kevd

    It is a very small detour. But, no indication was given on the NB sign of exactly where the path would be accessible again. Many cyclists were confusedly mulling about on Sunday.

    Just head up 12th and make a left 2 blocks north.
    It really isn’t bad, but the signage is.

  • Anonymous

    Obviously this is because bikes don’t follow the rules. If only they followed the rules better they wouldn’t get detours like this.

  • Guest

    When was the community board meeting about this?

  • GUEST

    I walked by and asked the guard what was going on. He said they’re working on the small plant in the river there, and there’s a chance of explosion. (PLEASE don’t take that as 100% fact, it was all very casual.) As both a cyclist and a pedestrian who lives in the neighborhood, this is nothing to get worked up over. It’s a very small stretch of path and easily navigated around.

  • Anonymous

    Nobody told me!

  • Anonymous

    I haven’t been up that way since last summer; by “very small” do you mean not very far out of the way, or not very much of the path is subject to the detour?

  • Daphna

    If there was work that needed to be done adjacent to a major motor vehicle road, all agencies involved would have only closed the road if absolutely necessary, would have kept the closure time as short as possible, would have had the road only closed during hours when work was being done, not round the clock. But with a major bike road, a closing is done without trying to minimize it in any way. I wish the same concern and respect would be given to bike infrastructure as is given the car infrastructure in the event of needed closings.

    There is the Natural Gas meter station at 134th Street on the Hudson River run by Williams Gas Pipeline. It is connected to the Tranco pipeline from Texas. There were plans to upgrade it to higher volume. Maybe that is what is happening. Here is an article about that: http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20130109/west-harlem/plan-convert-harlem-gas-meter-station-high-volume-sparks-concern

    They closed this same area before (in April/May a year or two ago for at least a month). I just wish the closing were done with the acknowledgment that this is an extremely heavy volume bike road and that any closure should be minimized as much as possible. For example, if work is only being done 9-5 M-F then there should be a thorough evaluation whether it really needs to be closed 24/7 instead of just 40 hours a week.

  • Bluewndrpwrmlk96

    I was there last week by bike. The detour is only 2 blocks, use 12th Avenue. The old greenway signs are still there on-street.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks.

  • JK

    Hello Parks Dept, please post way-finding signs to help non-local cyclists navigate around the short detour area. Not a big deal for locals, but could be baffling if you aren’t familiar with this area. (They do get a thumbs up for the nice clear detour sign on the barricades. Rare to see city projects with a start-end date on them — like say the Third Water Tunnel street work all over Lower Manhattan which has no friggin’ informational signage. )

  • Anonymous

    I travel down this detour every day as part of my commute. The detour may be very small, both in terms of the length of path closed and in terms of the length of the detour, but the detour takes one out onto extremely busy and dangerous roads. The adjacent stretch of 12th ave is used as an unloading area for the nearby Fairway during rush hour, blocking both the bike lane and the entire traffic lane, forcing both cars and bikes to travel the wrong way down the other travel lane across the yellow lines.

    My commute is nearly 100% greenway and this little detour has easily tripled the perceived danger I encounter on the entire trip. I’ve had multiple cars pass me only to immediately get stopped in traffic and leave me very little room to pass them again. I’ve had trucks back up towards me as I’m going through the travel lane. I’ve had forklifts and hand-trucks weave across the bike path (on those few occasions the bike path is accessible at all).

    Furthermore, the nearby roads are extremely dirty and potholed, and I’ve already gotten a flat tire going through all the messy debris that accumulates on that short stretch of 12th ave.

    On the last leg of the detour south-bound, one is essentially merging into traffic coming down from the Henry Hudson Parkway. Thankfully, there is a stop sign, and most cars do seem to stop (because usually there’s another car at the stop sign coming the other way), but the drivers coming off the Parkway are certainly not looking for cyclists. Thankfully it’s summer now, and daylight lasts pretty long, but I can’t imagine what it’ll be like once it gets dark early in November.

    At the very least, DOT should put up temporary protected bike lanes using police barriers or some other type of temporary barrier. If this path is being closed due to some sort of explosion risk, that risk absolutely needs to be weighed against the very real risk of a traffic accident going through that detour. This may seem counter-intuitive, but it may be less risky to keep the path open despite the explosion risk.

  • Anonymous

    The detour may not be that bad distance-wise, but it is horrible safety-wise.

  • Anonymous

    The main problem is that the parks department thinks of the greenway as a nice-to-have recreational facility, instead of the essential transportation infrastructure that it is. You forgot to mention that they don’t even let people ride at night when the Riverside Park is closed! Why not close the Henry Hudson Parkway too then?

  • Daphna

    The Greenway that is in Riverside Park is open 24/7. The rest of the park closes as night. Now and then a Parks employee or NYPD will drive along the Greenway and say that the park is closed but they are wrong. The Greenway section is open 24/7 and does not close with the rest of the park. It would be nice if the NYPD and the Park Dept would learn this and not try to enforce non-existent rules.

  • It’s not easily navigated when semis are blocking the entire SB lane of traffic, including the bikelanes, every single morning. It’s not easily navigated by newer cyclists and those less familiar with the area, which is very close to entrances and exits from the Henry Hudson. The only exits from the greenway there are crosswalks, and good luck with all the drivers exiting the highway bothering to stop for them.

  • Daphna

    You describe the hazards of the detour very well. 12th Avenue is a disaster for cyclists. It is dark because it’s under the elevated section of Riverside Drive. The pavement is poor. The in-the-door-zone painted bike lanes are always filled with commercial vehicles. Lots of loading and unloading is done there. The cross streets connecting with the greenway conflict with on/off ramps for the Henry Hudson Parkway.

    Seven months is a long time to have to ride in that very dangerous area. I agree with you that some protected bike lane facility (such as one created with crowd control barriers) should be put in place on 12th Avenue for the duration of this detour.

    qrt145 is right that this bike road is treated “as a nice-to-have recreational facility, instead of the essential transportation infrastructure that it is.” If the Greenway were regarded the same as a major road such as the Henry Hudson Parkway, I doubt that a 7 month closure 24/7 would have been the decision.

  • Stephen, if you are able, please ask Parks why they just had to close that tiny section of the greenway but not the offramp from the Henry Hudson, which is just adjacent — right next to it. No danger to drivers from possible explosion? More double standards.

  • Daphna

    OMG. That update make this situation worse. A major bike road, with thousands of people using it per hour, inconveniences and puts in danger all those people so a company can park and store their stuff in the bike lane! A bike lane should never be closed just to use as a staging/parking/storage area. But if that is the case, then whenever they do not need to put their stuff in the bike road, then it should be open. That picture shows the path closed while it is not being used for staging.

  • vnm

    Also there’s a beautiful new kayak dock right there behind the closure barriers. I guess the only reach it this summer is by kayak.

  • LN

    Why is it closed? To create more capacity to bring fracked gas and radon into poor neighborhoods. The dots are very easy to connect. Same as the Spectra pipeline downtown – pipeline its all about fracking, and its ruining more than your bike commute, but its doing that too.

  • Sean Kelliher

    According to the security guard I spoke with, construction is being done on the corrugated metal building next to the Greenway. This building is elevated above the water on moorings. It’s been there for years and from the hum of motors and smell, appears to have something to do with natural gas.

    Unfortunately, the Parks Department did a terrible job with wayfinding here. There are a few signs warning about construction and instructing people to use 12th Avenue, but there is no map or clear signage about the extent of the detour and where you can rejoin the Greenway. As a result, a gaggle of people is usually around the gate wondering what to do.

    Also, the Parks Department and/orDOT made no provisions to ensure safe passage along the detour route. In daytime the road is blocked with tractor trailers and forklifts buzzing around them. At night, the road is sometimes blocked with vehicles from the nightclubs in the area.

    Lastly, a word of caution – I ride through this area a lot and sometimes see motorists either freewheeling off the Henry Hudson or salivating to get on it blow through stop signs and red lights. Please take care of yourselves and really make sure the car is stopping before you proceed.

  • Daphna, if a NY Cop or a Parks Cop says the path is closed at night, it’s closed! If the Parks Commissioner can’t control the “officials” on the path, then what they say is defacto the law. And we would get a ticket for Failure to obey the orders of an officer, and it would stick, even if they were not lawful orders.

    qrt145 has it exactly right – Parks Dept still thinks these formally designated bike routes are recreation trails, to be closed at any whim. And yes, why are cars allowed on park drives at night at times after 1 AM when the parks are closed to bicyclists and pedestrians.? We are caught between double standards and no standards.

  • kevd

    I disagree. It is a perfectly safe detour, if people know where to go.

  • kevd

    Both.
    You ride a block east, 2 blocks north, 1 block west and then you’re back on the path.

  • Eric Allen

    If the construction were next to a major thoroughfare for cars they’d do a better job.

  • G. R.

    I encountered that detour today and it is total bullsh*t.

  • qrt145

    I just went by today for the first time since Nov 30th, and the path is still closed. The sign has been changed to say “until Feb 28th”.

    Strange that every time I’ve been in this area, I haven’t seen the slightest hint of construction activity!

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