Battery Park City Bans Bicycling on Esplanade By North Cove Marina

A cyclist gets back on her bike after dismounting at the North Marina Cove plaza. Photo: David Meyer

The Battery Park City Authority (BPCA), the state agency that manages the Lower Manhattan neighborhood, has posted “cyclist dismount” signs around the North Cove Marina plaza, a key connection along the waterfront.

BPCA Chief of Staff Kevin McCabe told Streetsblog that the new policy is a “proactive pedestrian safety measure” and not a response to any specific incident.

In a June 30 press release, the authority announced the dismount zone as well as a working group “to solicit feedback and develop recommendations for bicycle usage on the Battery Park City Esplanade” [PDF].

“We look forward to engaging the community to review bicycle usage on the Esplanade, and developing recommendations for the most balanced, effective use of this incredible public space,” BPCA president and CEO Shari C. Hyman said in the press release.

The bicycle working group will include members of Manhattan Community Board 1’s Battery Park City committee, but not much else is known about how it will be composed. Advocates at Transportation Alternatives and Bike New York said BPCA has yet to reach out to them.

Bike New York CEO Ken Podziba told Streetsblog that the dismount signs are “inappropriate” at the location. “I believe a more reasonable solution would be to have signage instructing cyclists to slow down by the marina,” Podziba said.

BPCA defended the cycling ban on the plaza, saying people should bike on the Hudson River Greenway along West Street instead. That section of greenway, by Brookfield Place, had been off limits because of construction from 2007 to 2015. Cyclists were detoured to the esplanade plaza until the greenway reopened last November.

“With a viable alternative for bicycle traffic now available the full length of BPC along Route 9A, it makes sense to be having a larger conversation with the community about bicycles on the Esplanade,” McCabe said.

Cycling has not been banned along the rest of the Battery Park City waterfront, which, like the plaza, parallels the Hudson River Greenway. Along the esplanade, cyclists, skateboarders, and runners must stay on the park’s lower pathway, while the upper pathway is reserved for pedestrians.

McCabe said the working group will get started in the fall, once CB 1 has reconvened from its summer recess, aiming to make recommendations for the following spring. “We are committed to engaging and gathering broad-based public input to help inform the decisions we make about bicycles on the BPC Esplanade,” he said.

  • Joe R.

    I’m trying to figure out a legislator’s rationale for requiring a low mass, low speed vehicle like a moped to be registered in the first place. Other than carrying around gasoline, I can’t think of one. There’s also another good reason for not requiring any registration or licensing for such vehicles. If a person has to jump through all the hoops to use a 30 mph moped, many will just go the next step and get a motorcycle license. Motorcycles are statistically way more dangerous to the rider than mopeds. I say make it easier for people to use slower, lighter less powerful vehicles in the interests of safety by not requiring them to jump through any hoops.

  • Joe R.

    Interestingly, NYC seems to regulate that indirectly. You’re not allowed to get gasoline at a station in a non-metal can and yet all the stores sell are plastic cans.

  • ahwr

    https://dmv.ny.gov/registration/register-moped

    Class B moped doesn’t require a motorcycle license and doesn’t need to be inspected. If you already have a driver’s license…

  • ahwr

    You’re not allowed to get gasoline at a station in a non-metal can

    http://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/8579.html

  • walks bikes drives

    Very interesting. I understood the law to only say that you had to use approved containers. That way you can fill up a gallon milk jug with gasoline like I used to as a kid. But I’ve never looked up the letter of the law on that one. No, for that matter, have I ever filled up a container of gasoline in New York City. I have the luxury of almost always filling up gas in New Jersey or upstate.

  • walks bikes drives

    For probable injury calculations, sustained speeds are much more important than maximum speeds. In terms of probability at impact, you have a much higher probability of striking at sustained speed then at maximum speed. To use myself as an example, on New York City surface streets, I have probably ridden 102 miles at 30 plus miles per hour. I have probably done 15 miles @ 25 plus miles per hour. And I probably have 6000 miles at under 25 miles per hour. But my maximum speed on a downhill is roughly 43 miles per hour. I have done that for 0 miles in New York City.

  • Elizabeth F

    Think about it… when people feel that cars might be a danger to pedestrians, they put up “speed limit 5mph” signs. They don’t say “turn off your engine, get behind the car and push through this plaza.” When people are afraid that cars might plow through a dangerous intersection without stopping, they put up a STOP sign.

    So why the continuing assumption that bikers are unable to control their bike at low speeds? Worried about bike/ped problems in a wide-open plaza? “Cyclist dismount.” Worried that your 4′ shared use bridge path is too narrow for high-speed cycling? “Cyclist dismount.” Worried that bikers on a bike path crossing a road might plow across without looking? “Cyclist dismount.” And so it goes. Whoever makes this stuff up seems to be designing for Amateur Hour in the bike lane. I’m still waiting for the sign that treats us like responsible adults; something like “Bikers use caution, STOP, 5mph, look both ways.”

  • Elizabeth F

    Compare also to the concept of “shared space.” It does away with all the markings that make your plaza look like an airline landing strip.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shared_space

  • Elizabeth F

    As someone who depends on my e-bike every day… clearly I think they should be legalized. I don’t really care how, and am not against reasonable regulation. If nothing else, it could serve an an excuse to get prospective e-bikers into some good bike driver’s ed; which would probably save lives.

    E-bikes really do go faster on average than manual bikes; and with those higher speeds, higher levels of responsibility are required. On the other hand, I have long stretches on my commute where I can cruise at 22mph, saving me time. Nothing wrong with letting out the throttle on the open road.

  • How do you avoid getting pulled over? Does your electric bike look like a gas-powered scooter? But, still, it doesn’t have a licence plate; so it can easily be spotted.

    And if you did get pulled over, the cops would take your e-bike, would they not?

    (By the way, the “e-bikes” in this discussion are electric scooters, not bicycles with electric motors attached, right?)

  • Elizabeth F

    There is no legal distinction between e-bikes that looks like mountain bikes and e-bikes that look like scooters. The “e-bikes” in this discussion could refer to either. My e-bike looks like a mountain bike.

    Believe it or not, e-bikes that look like scooters are cheaper and lower quality than e-bikes that look like mountain bikes. They usually have lead-acid batteries (vs Li-Ion) and are a lot heavier. The small wheels don’t help with maneuverability either. And they’re probably slower than an e-bike that looks like a mountain bike (especially if you don’t pedal).

    Unless you can’t afford $1500 for a vehicle you’ll use every day, scooter e-bikes serve no purpose. I’d have no problem with a law banning them, although one would have to avoid unintended consequences (for example, accidentally banning folding e-bikes, or cargo e-bikes).

  • Elizabeth F

    Join NY Bicycle Coalition (nybc.net) if you want to legalize e-bikes.

  • kevd

    those people are idiots and I yell at them.
    The reasonable ones look up, see the light and that they were wrong and hopefully, act with more caution in the future.

  • Joe R.

    Unfortunately, requiring a driver’s license, a helmet, and insurance is a big hoop to jump through just to use a vehicle like that, and from where I stand it’s totally unnecessary. In fact, I think that’s the reason you see far fewer mopeds and scooters here than you do in Asian cities, where regulations for them are either nonexistent or not enforced. Chances are if someone goes through the bother of getting a driver’s license, then it’s because they want to drive a car, not a moped.

  • Joe R.

    I’d look at this a different way. Sustained speeds are important, but only if they’re above a certain threshold where it takes experience and road sense to ride safely. Most cyclists could handle 20 to 25 mph sustained speeds. Those kinds of speeds aren’t that much above the typical 12 to 16 mph most cyclists ride at. They’re also no faster than the speeds most cyclists reach on downgrades. Obviously I wouldn’t put a child or teenager with little riding experience on an e-bike, but I think sustained 20 to 25 mph speeds on a very light vehicle aren’t dangerous enough to warrant any kind of government requirements.

    That said, I can see a case being made for different classes of e-bikes. Perhaps no requirements if it goes 25 mph or less. Maybe add certain requirements for brakes if it goes 30 mph. 35 to 45 mph would have more stringent equipment requirements, a helmet requirement, and completion of a training class. Above 45 mph it’s considered a motorcycle. For most urban riding the 25 mph or slower versions with no requirements would do just fine.

    But my maximum speed on a downhill is roughly 43 miles per hour.

    65 mph for me on a two-lane road in NJ. I had a long downgrade and strong tailwind. Second highest speed (also with a fierce tailwind) was 61 mph descending the QB into Queens. I may have cracked 60 mph one other time when I accidentally got on a highway for one exit. I was drafting a large van. I saw 58 mph but was too busy concentrating to look again. It did feel like I gained a bit of speed. Other than these instances I hit 50+ a handful of times, 40+ about the same. Nowadays I rarely go over 35 mph. Few streets are in good enough shape where I feel safe at those kinds of speeds.

  • Joe R.

    BTW, you easily have me beat in terms of the number of miles at 30+ mph. I seldom sustain 30+ for more than a few blocks. Even with close to 74,000 miles of riding under my belt, I’d be surprised if more than a few tens of miles were over 30 mph. Most of my riding falls into the 17 to 23 mph range. Something like this is typical for me on one of my rides:

  • Joe R.

    I mentioned in another post that I’m not opposed to some sort of tiered regulation system, with more stringent requirements for faster e-bikes. It might go something like this:

    1) No requirements if it goes 25 mph or less.

    2) Maybe add certain requirements for more robust brakes and wheels if it goes 30 mph.

    3) 35 to 45 mph would have more stringent equipment requirements, a helmet requirement, and completion of a training class.

    4) Above 45 mph it’s considered a motorcycle.

    For most urban riding the 25 mph or slower versions with no requirements would do just fine.

    On the other hand, I have long stretches on my commute where I can cruise at 22mph, saving me time. Nothing wrong with letting out the throttle on the open road.

    The speed also helps you make more traffic lights, which in NYC is a big time saver. I’m a fast rider, but quite often I just miss a light. At that point, I have to at least reduce my speed to ~10 mph or less just to ascertain if the intersection is clear before proceeding. If it’s not clear, I have to wait until it is. Either scenario means wasted time plus effort getting back up to cruising speed. If I could hold something like 22 mph in more situations I’d be making these lights I just barely miss.

  • Joe R.

    There are quite a few “stealth” e-bikes where one would be hard pressed to tell the difference from a regular bike. The ones the delivery people use can be spotted a mile away, but those look more like scooters with rudimentary pedals.

  • Joe R.

    They must have changed the law. At one time you weren’t even allowed to use plastic gas cans in NYC.

  • Joe R.

    I’d personally just love to see a sign telling people to get out and push their cars. It might put an end to all these silly “cyclist dismount” signs.

  • ahwr

    The comparable treatment for drivers is to ban them from the area, make them park and walk over without their vehicle. That’s exactly what is done on the esplanade around the marina, isn’t it?

  • ahwr

    Think about it… when people feel that cars might be a danger to pedestrians, they put up “speed limit 5mph” signs. They don’t say “turn off your engine, get behind the car and push through this plaza.”

    Are you saying people are driving cars through the esplanade?

  • ahwr
  • ahwr

    I was just pointing out that the hoops you have to jump through to get a motorcycle are more burdensome than for a 30 mph moped.

  • Elizabeth F

    Sorry, such a tiered system will never work. Air resistance and kinetic energy go as the square of your speed. Over the low 20’s mph, the amount of power added by the human (vs machine) makes it essentially a motorcycle. Existing e-bike / moped tiered classifications already take this into account.

  • Joe R.

    That depends entirely on design. For example, on machines like this a human can add a significant amount of the power even at highway speeds:

    http://velomobiles.ca/MilanSL-speed.html

    Also, even if the higher speed versions are essentially scooters or motorcycles, the point here is to have less stringent regulations for inherently safer vehicles so as to encourage their use over automobiles. A 35 or 40 mph e-bike can essentially replace an automobile in lots of scenarios, but it’s far less dangerous to those around it than an automobile. It’s also safer for the user than a regular motorcycle.

    Present regulations regarding mopeds set the bar too high. All classes of moped for example require a regular driver’s license. You shouldn’t need a drivers license for slower, lighter vehicles like that. I tend to think the stringent requirements are why we don’t see more widespread use of scooters or mopeds in this country. I’ve never heard of anyone who doesn’t intend to own a car getting a driver’s license just so they can use a moped. That’s really the target demographic here—people who don’t want the financial burden or hassle of owning a car but who need something faster than a regular bike. Many such people never bothered getting a driver’s license, particularly if they’ve lived in NYC all their lives.

  • Joe R.

    My point here is that when we want to allow motor vehicle access to an area but don’t want people driving fast, we put up signs telling them to drive slowly. We don’t tell them to get out of their vehicles and push them, as is done to cyclists in similar situations.

    Now of course there are certain situations where you ban motor vehicles altogether, just as there are certain venues were you might ban riding bikes altogether. Nothing wrong with that. All I’m saying is when you want to allow bike access, but don’t want bikes flying through at full speed, you should post signs to that effect, not tell cyclists to dismount. The latter is effectively a ban on bikes in the area. “Bike access” in general means you can still ride a bike, but not necessarily at high speeds. “Cyclists dismount” is basically equivalent to saying no bikes allowed, given that it’s legal to walk a bike virtually anywhere in NYC where pedestrians are allowed.

  • walks bikes drives

    Nope, I just typo’d you. That was supposed to be one or two. Not 102.

  • walks bikes drives

    I don’t think there is a road in NYC that I would feel comfortable crossing over the 40mph mark. Too many pot holes that come out of no where.

    But your comment about not letting kids or teenagers ride e-bikes – that’s exactly it. If an e-bike is treated like a bicycle, they can, with only a patent having power to stop them. Treat them like the mopeds they are, and now they are allowed to ride them a very simple test. When I grew up, you could get a moped license at 14.

  • Joe R.

    OK, that makes more sense now. I thought you were some kind of superman! I say this because for a while in my youth I seriously considered bike racing. Despite being in great physical shape, sustaining speeds over 30 mph was a rarity for me.

  • Joe R.

    I tend to go crazy on descents only when I’ve been on a road recently and know it’s in good shape. I learned the hard way back in my youth that potholes can come up out of nowhere. I hit a pothole once at 37 mph. I only suffered road rash plus a destroyed front wheel, but it made me think a little more seriously about ascertaining the road condition before going full- bore on descents.

  • walks bikes drives

    In NYC, even if I rode the road yesterday, I still don’t trust it today. Case in point, walking past the bike lane on Amsterdam this morning, the lane was all good. Coming back an hour later, there was a one square foot sink hole in the middle of a newly paved path that the kiosk people recently paved.

  • ahwr

    My point here is that when we want to allow motor vehicle access to an area but don’t want people driving fast, we put up signs telling them to drive slowly. We don’t tell them to get out of their vehicles and push them, as is done to cyclists in similar situations. That’s not allowing access. It’s just letting you walk with your property.

    When we don’t want people driving somewhere we ban cars. Which is exactly what is done by the marina. When we don’t want people biking we allow them to take their vehicles with them if they don’t ride them. Cyclists aren’t being treated worse here, cyclists are treated better. Cyclists have better access to the waterfront than drivers. But you twist this in to some act of oppression.

    All I’m saying is when you want to allow bike access, but don’t want bikes flying through at full speed, you should post signs to that effect, not tell cyclists to dismount.

    http://i.imgur.com/xx3KJDu.jpg

    http://gothamist.com/2015/08/24/toddler_cyclist_hit_run_riverside_p.php

    http://www.streetsblog.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/72ndsign.jpg

    Where is such signage effective in a pedestrian zone in the city? This spot should be treated different given it’s history as a bicycle route. A more appropriate bike road exists, and people still use the waterfront to bike fast. Improve the bike road, and get cyclists off the crowded waterfront park so people can enjoy it.

    The latter is effectively a ban on bikes in the area.

    No, it’s a ban on riding. Bikes and their riders are permitted.

    “Bike access” in general means you can still ride a bike, but not necessarily at high speeds.

    An arbitrary definition. If it’s the one you want to use, then it will severely curtail where bike access is desirable.

    This is all about treating people like adults capable of making rational decisions, instead of like children who need everything scripted.

    This is about creating a pleasant place enjoyable by all, not just the pedestrian equivalent of the strong and fearless rider. About creating a place where pedestrians aren’t terrorized by cyclists.

    Many here (myself included) call for an expansion of protected bike lanes, so cyclists have a place where they aren’t terrorized by motorists. Yet when pedestrians ask for a place where they aren’t terrorized by cyclists, streetsblog commenters and it’s writers are all up in arms complaining about it. NYC could use a pedestrian advocacy group that isn’t bike first

  • walks bikes drives

    But it is only a misdemeanor if it is a misdemeanor in civil code. If it is anything less than a misdemeanor in civil code, such as a violation, then they can’t upgrade the charge based on their charter.

  • ahwr

    Isn’t it a misdemeanor to bring a bike to a park and then disobey a park sign pertaining to use of bicycles?

    https://www.nycgovparks.org/rules/section-1-05

    Bicycling and operating Pedicabs Any person bringing a bicycle or a pedicab into any park shall obey all park signs pertaining to the use of such bicycles or pedicabs

    https://www.nycgovparks.org/rules/section-1-07

    §1-07 Penalties Any violation of these Rules other than Rule 1-04 (b)(1)(i) shall constitute a misdemeanor triable by the Criminal Court of the City of New York and punishable by not more than ninety days imprisonment or by a fine of not more than $1,000, or by both, in accordance with § 533(a)(9) of Chapter 21 of the New York City Charter.

  • walks bikes drives

    In city parks, NYPD does not enforce parks department rules, such as biking on park paths. That is left to Parks Enforcement Patrol (PEP). When a PEP officer writes a summons, they write an Environmental Control Board (ECB) summons which is fine based and heard by an administrative law judge for the ECB. These are the Sam ALJs who hear recycling violations. NYPD doest write ECB summonses and typically don’t even carry ECB pads with them, they only write criminal summonses. If a PEP officer need to write a criminal summons, they typically call NYPD.

    So let’s put it this way, could NYPD technically charge someone ignoring the sign’s with a misdemeanor? Guess so. Other than to be a complete asshole to someone who would have done something else to piss them off, would it ever happen? Probably not.

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