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.

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