Cabbie Mistakes East River Park Bike Path for Highway

The marker to the south is where the speeding taxi passed the cyclist. The marker to the north is where the cyclist gave up trying to chase after him.

A tipster sends along this story from the East River Park bike path…

Yesterday around 6:15PM, my friend and I were biking home from work through the East River park as we usually do, when a taxi flew past us! This path is separated from the FDR by a big fence and it is NOT easy to get onto it. We are used to park service and construction vehicles making their way down it, but they are always obeying the 5MPH posted speed limit and are generally not a safety hazard. This guy was doing at least 20MPH! Pedaling as fast as I could I couldn’t catch up to him to either a) get his license plate or b) yell into his open window and call him a maniac and beg him to slow down and turn around.

There were a lot of people (kids on bikes, kids playing soccer, commuters, joggers) on the path at the time–did ANYONE manage to get a picture of this or get this guy’s license plate? Even by NYC bike lane standards this was absurd. There is no way this person should have a license to drive, let alone drive a cab in New York. I want to see this guy’s head in the stocks, and failing that, I want to see him fired.

  • ron

    Would it be possible for the taxi to get off the path north of that location? Wouldn’t he reach that narrow spot around 14th St. and have to backtrack?

  • srock

    The City has to put obstacles in place that block cars but allow bicycles through the entrances to these greenways. Perhaps some sort of solid bollards with a chain between them that could be unlocked to allow parks department vehicles through. Last winter Eric Ng was killed under the exact same circumstances on the West Side Hwy greenway– nothing like that should ever happen again.

  • Zach

    re Ron: Doesn’t he get stuck at Corlear’s Hook? Eh, it’s been awhile. That’s nuts.

  • Murray Hillster

    If the cabbie was driving north, there’s no way out of there. None. He could drive in circles south of the “pinch point”, but if the riders had just waited, he would have eventually driven by them. The only point of access is at Montgomery St.

    I ride on my bike down that path all the time (weather permitting) and 20 mph doesn’t strike me as worthy of getting hysterical (I’m usually doing 18-19 mph when its free of pedestrians), to be honest. Particularly at the point they allegedly lost him which is the most unoccupied portion of the entire greenway. Further north is where the fields and crowds usually are. At the bend, it’s usually pretty empty.

    Yeah, it’s too fast, but I don’t think it’s outrageous given that the driver probably didn’t know where he was at the time since he had only just entered the greenway and had been driving down a barren sandy path up until that point (after you leave the parking lot at the Montgomery St. entrance, it’s a really bumpy, sandy path. This turns into a pot-holed paved area where they allegedly lost the driver).

  • Murray Hillster

    “Last winter Eric Ng was killed under the exact same circumstances on the West Side Hwy greenway– nothing like that should ever happen again.”

    I would add that this part of the greenway is in fact a road that is frequently accessed by people driving to the fields (e.g., teams dropping off equipment and players; performers in the amphitheater moving in speakers). It’s very different than the Westside Highway portion where no “civilians” are ever permitted to drive on it.

    I rarely, if ever, do not see a car or truck on the eastside path. Conversely, I’ve only seen one car accidentally on the West Side greenway, and I went suitably ballistic on the moron.

    My point that these situations aren’t particularly analogous. The cab driver isn’t out of his mind for driving there like the person that killed Eric Ng.

  • epc

    And the medallion number of the taxi was? Please, please report this to the TLC.

  • bungleboo

    I guarantee you it was an undercover cop. They can frequently be found skulking about (or in this case tearing around) in yellow cabs.

  • Mike

    I jog that path often and am always worried about this section. It is very easy for a car to drive on it and during the summer I often see cars traveling on it to get to the softball fields, although I believe they shouldnt. At times they do not drive with respect to pedestrians. They need to block off this path to cars with pylons as there is no need for cars to access this area it should be utilized for those walking along the east river.

    Its a tragedy waiting to happen.

  • lintsao

    I also guarantee it was a cop. I live overlooking East River Park and have seen the NYPD “taxi” bombing up through the park more than once, lights (normally hidden) flashing.

  • momos

    It’s completely unacceptable to make cyclists and pedestrians believe they are in a car-free zone and then physically allow for the possibility of a car to enter that zone. Because if it’s possible, it WILL happen. And the consequences, as Eric Ng’s incredibly tragic death showed, can be deadly.

    The only way to keep cars in New York City off of bicycle and pedestrian lanes is to PHYSICALLY BLOCK THEM. That means BOLLARDS.

    Bollards that can withstand an oncoming Mack truck. Come on New York, why is this so difficult?

    I’ve posted this link before and I’ll post it again. Have a look at what they do in Manchester, UK:

  • @alex

    Although if it is true that the cab was an undercover police car (I’ve seen these too, elsewhere in the city) they would presumably have the magic electronics to lower bollards like those in Manchester.

  • What if he was driving someone to their baseball game?

    It is really nice to see that these comments are reasonable following this post placed by an obviously new new yorker. thanks for being sane.

    The taxi police scenario sounds most likely as well, most often they are the ones breaking the speed limit. check for (either or) long license plate tags, three chubby white dudes, some possible antennae, black side bumpers, a grey front bumper, dented doors, maybe broken a headlight (all tell tale signs of police taxis)

  • MJG

    It’s probably a cop. FYI, to identify a ‘taxi cop’ simply look at the side bumper on the doors. On normal taxis it is yellow. On police taxis it is black. That’s the only difference between the cars, and much easier to identify than a medallion or license plate.

  • J.

    “It’s completely unacceptable to make cyclists and pedestrians believe they are in a car-free zone and then physically allow for the possibility of a car to enter that zone.”

    Which is all well and good, until some kid gets whacked in the head with a bat on one of the fields and you can’t get an ambulance to them, or the fieldhouse catches fire, and there’s no way to get a fire truck in there…

  • klm

    On a similar note: There was a cab driving on the new 9th Ave Buffered Bike Lane when I was there last week. He didn’t seem to think anything was strange

  • Adam

    Following kim’s comment, on Thursday around 6:30 pm, there was a police traffic tow truck in the 9th Avenue new biking lane, blocking the entire lane, idling with it’s driver’s side door open – apparently while the driver/traffic officer stopped in a deli or shop. It forced me to switch my bike into the car turning lane.

  • drew

    Actually, the best way to tell a cop-taxi is to look at the license plate vs. the numbers lit on the top of the cab. On a normal taxi those numbers are the same. On a cop-taxi they are not.

  • Steveo

    Also the cop taxi has a TLC plate rather than the medallion plate. so if the medallion is 1a345, the plate should match it. The cop taxi has a TLC plate that is something like T123456C

  • Tom Robbins

    Idiot cabs in the bike lane. Happens all the time. Any lane that looks open is a passing lane to them.
    And the retractible bollards thing won’t work in NY. Think of it, another bureaucracy to work and maintain the damned things, which will get full of road salt and other gunk … plus four seasons of humidity, rain, sleet and snow. There are more things we can spend my taxes on … like more bike lanes with groovy green paint.


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