Eyes on the Street: Cabbie on the Hudson River Greenway

Photo: Shelly Mossey
Photo: Shelly Mossey

The Hudson River Greenway is supposed to be a place where New Yorkers can walk and bike without fear of being hit by motorists. But this is not the case, as regular greenway users are well aware. Caught on camera today by Shelly Mossey, this cab driver was on the bikeway to the south of the NYPD tow pound.

A few yards away is the site where an NYPD truck driver fatally struck Carl Nacht in 2006, as Nacht rode on the greenway with his wife, Mary Beth Kelly. Six months later, a drunk driver traveling at highway speeds slammed into greenway cyclist Eric Ng a mile south of Chelsea Piers, killing him.

At the time, there was nothing to prevent drivers from turning onto the bikeway after exiting the tow pound. There is now a hard center-line bollard designed to deter drivers from making that turn. It’s difficult to imagine someone maneuvering a car around the bollard without seeing it. It looks like this cab driver was determined to get in there.

Mossey wrote on Facebook that an NYPD officer stationed at the tow pound entrance “did not even notice” the cab. After seeing the photos, Mossey wrote, the officer said she “will file a complaint.”

“I think that section of bikeway needs cameras,” wrote Mossey. “I always see taxis on the bikeway in that section.”

In addition to motorists who illegally drive on the path, cyclists and pedestrians must contend with conflict points where drivers cross the greenway. Last July a NY Waterways bus driver, apparently en route to the 39th Street ferry terminal, seriously injured a cyclist just north of the tow pound.

The Hudson River Park Trust, which gets revenue from commercial enterprises inside the park, intends to add more driveways and greenway conflict points for a new retail and food market with 75 parking spaces at Pier 57 in Chelsea.

  • red_greenlight1

    This is the first time I’ve heard of a taxi. Why do I think “file a complaint” is code for get a coffee.

  • Bluewndrpwrmlk96

    Bollards.

  • Eric McClure

    “‘Professional’ driver on a closed course. Do not attempt.”

  • Robert Wright

    My daily commute used to take me along four miles of the Greenway twice a day. I saw taxis driving on it, although most realized pretty quickly they were in the wrong place and maneuvered off it. It’s a particular problem around the tow pound because people go by taxi to retrieve their vehicles and the taxi drivers then get confused about which bits are roads and which parts are the greenway.

  • Fish

    And this is the “#1” city for cycling in this country…

  • BBnet3000

    Is it possible to file a complaint directly with the TLC based on this photo? Don’t trust the cop on scene to do a damn thing.

    Is there another option other than a double yellow centerline for this path? It makes it look like a road for cars.

  • Kevin Love

    Don’t forget the doughnut!

  • lop

    I tried that a few times with pictures of cabs illegally parked on the sidewalk. TLC did nothing. I think they might sometimes going by how pissed cabbies are when I take a picture of them parked on a sidewalk.

  • WalkingNPR

    Ooh–we can start a collection! I title this one “Lost Tourists on the Hudson River Greenway” or “Why is Everyone Sitting in Traffic On That Road Over There, When This One’s Wide Open?”

  • WalkingNPR

    Yeah if I encounter them on the Greenway it’s usually there–they tend to U-turn there after dropping people off and a) intrude on the Greenway for the turn and b) get confused and stay on it.

  • AnoNYC

    How does a taxi driver not realize that this is the Hudson River Greenway?

    “Professional drivers” my @$$.

  • BBnet3000
  • phfweb

    It sure as heck doesn’t help the whole situation when the Parks Enforcement Police drive their own large SUVs down the bike path all the time. Really? You have to patrol the path in a large car????!?? Even worse when they drive down the pedestrian promenade.

  • red_greenlight1

    Goes without saying a cop getting coffee without a doughnut is like a civilian getting a burger without fries.

  • KillMoto

    “No criminality suspected”

  • jt

    If the road set-up is confusing and a drivers tries to get off fast, I don’t blame them – I blame the city.

  • Mike

    There needs to be frequent and very visible signage along that part of the bike path. Something along the lines of “Bikes Only!” Cars are a relatively rare occurrence along there, but joggers constantly intrude into the bike lane (and not just in the mixed use areas). Clueless pedestrians get off cruise ships and huddle in the middle of the lane waiting for the light to cross the highway. NYPD horses get in the way and leave poop all over the lane.

    While cars can do more damage, the other non-bike invaders of the lane cause more frequent damage. I’ve seen joggers make blind turns directly into cyclists causing injury. I’ve seen cyclists swerve to avoid cruise shippers and injure themselves.

    We need lots of signs, and maybe something lining the edges of the path (like a repeated bike icon on the cement, or something). Bollards would help too.

    Or, you know, actual police enforcement.

  • Jonathan R

    Or just slow down enough to be able to avoid other people.

  • And let the mobs of tourists block the bike lane completely.

    Hey, great idea, let’s take it further and apply it to streets in general and let pedestrians block them completely, too.

  • To be fair, it looks like a road. Why the hell are we building trails to look like roads? A double yellow center line is idiotic

  • Maybe it would be better to make the double lines green, although I suspect drivers who manoeuvre around bollards might not notice the color, either.

  • Cold Shoaler

    I agree to the sentiment here. The number of joggers on the greenway is ridiculous at times. However, I seriously doubt more signage is the answer. There’s too much signage as there is; that’s why nobody pays attention to it. Also, there are parts (e.g. Chelsea Piers) where I can understand why someone would not want to walk/jog on the designated pedestrian section, as it’s basically a driveway.

  • WalkingNPR

    Agreed with all you’ve said. Also, that area by Chelsea Piers, for example, does have “Bikes only” signs–no one heeds them.

    Overall, there is way too much signage on the Greenway, making it difficult to pay attention to any of it. There’s one spot near the Pier 84/bus depot clustermess where a sign for Southbound pedestrians/cyclists/drivers (I’m actually not even sure what the sign says) obscures the bike signal for northbound cyclists until you’re right up in the intersection. It’s quite dangerous.

  • Jonathan R

    I think “mobs of tourists” is kind of a derogatory way to refer to people on foot. I prefer that folks cross the Greenway on foot than having another giant taxi stand on the river side of the path, like in front of the ferry terminal.

  • Mike

    I do ride slow through there, but it’s really hard to avoid a jogger running along the side who decides to turn around to run the other way along the other side without looking for bikes coming up behind.

  • Mike

    I wouldn’t want to jog along there either, but the answer isn’t the bike lane. The answer is to turn around and jog back the other way.

  • J_12

    it’s not a restricted access highway for bikes. If you can’t or won’t adjust your riding to deal with joggers and other pedestrians, then you should ride on the westside highway.

  • qrt145

    It does have parts that say “bikes only”. Joggers in those parts are definitely in the wrong. People crossing are not a problem in my view.

  • Hilda

    It is not a rare occurrence at this location. The tow pound has inadequate signage for the correct place to drop off passengers, and keeps the gate closed for the driveway, which makes it seem that the vehicles have to turn around.
    I have seen vehicles on this portion of the path regularly, and typically the driver seems apologetic and completely confused, but not always. This really is an issue of design.

    And definitely make a comment to the Hudson River Partnership and Parks. I think there were enough comments made to the Ferry Bus company after the July incident that I now see drivers not only yielding to path users, but I see these bus drivers craning their necks and really looking.

  • Mike

    You, sir/madam, are just plain incorrect. There are parts where it is a restricted access highway for bikes (and rollerbladers). There are signs posted pointing pedestrians and joggers one way and bikes (and rollerbladers) the other way. The joggers tend to ignore these signs, leading to dangerous conditions. I’ve adjusted to them, but they shouldn’t be there. It’s not like there aren’t plenty of sidewalks, pedestrian paths in the parks, and other designated jogging places all over the city. Taking over one of the few good bike lanes when there are plenty of other options is just selfish on the part of joggers.

  • J_12

    I think you are unclear on the meaning of restricted access. The signs you refer to are, at best, suggestions which may lead to a more pleasant and safer travel experience for people using different modes.
    A pedestrian walking in the bike path may be exercising bad etiquette, but that is probably the worst you can accuse him of.
    The fact there are “plenty of sidwalks … and other designated jogging areas” is irrelevant. While I understand your frustration when people walk in the bike lanes when they have a perfectly good alternative, they are allowed to be there and may choose to do so out of ignorance, not caring, or at times when it is the best alternative for them.

    It’s like bikers taking a traffic lane, and in this case you are playing the part of the indignant driver.

  • Mike

    I’m pretty sure this is a blog dedicated to creating a “pleasant and safer travel experience for people using different modes.” Shouldn’t we all want that? And, if we do, shouldn’t we want pedestrians out of the bike lane (and bikes and cars off the sidewalks)?

    Also, what gives you the impression that pedestrians are allowed in the bike lane? It may not be enforced, but it’s like jaywalking. It’s not actually allowed, and you shouldn’t do it in places where you’re a danger to yourself or others.

    This is nothing like cyclists taking a traffic lane, which is both legal and recommended by the city in cycling safety pamphlets. Similar pamphlets tell pedestrians to stay out of the bike lane.

  • Jonathan R

    Are you suggesting NYPD checkpoints for joggers like the ones for bicyclists? Great idea, those are super popular!

  • Mike

    A cop, or street safety person/crossing guard/whatever directing joggers to not use the bike lane would be super popular with me and anybody else biking along the Greenway. I’d also be amenable to somebody chalking signs on the ground at regular intervals on the bike path saying something along the lines of “Hey asshole, stop jogging in the bike lane, it’s dangerous” or other similar efforts to shame joggers into better behavior.

  • Jonathan R

    Who is paying for this street safety person? Hudson River Park Trust has no money because they have to renovate Pier 40, the reason why they are looking to expand commercial activity in the park (and make it less attractive for bicyclists).

    On the broader notion of shaming any group of people into better behavior, perhaps some of the other bicycle advocates who read Streetsblog can share their experiences about how productive that’s been for people on bikes. I advise not repeating failed policies of the past, but you are welcome to hope for better results when cracking down on joggers than on bicyclists.

  • SheRidesABike

    When Shorewalkers leads the Great Saunter, the 32-mile walk around the Manhattan waterfront, they position volunteers at key chokepoints along the greenway to direct the large number of walkers away from the sections of the path that are supposed to be bike-prioritized. It works well. I’ve often thought that Bike New York, TA, and New York Road Runners should team up and bring a big volunteer army of cyclists and joggers to do something similar along the HRG and Central Park. Cyclists could (metaphorically speaking) nudge cyclists to slow at intersections and the like, and joggers could do likewise. It need not be aggressive (“Hey asshole” isn’t a great greeting for someone who’s just not familiar with the path and really just needs a gentle bit of 411 about the best part of the path to use) and it would be a great outreach event for all those organizations.

  • JK

    Since day one HRPT and NYC Parks have done a piss poor job of managing user conflict and stopping illegal cars and motorcycles on the stretch of the greenway South of 60th street they control. A good first step would be to convene a Greenway User Council of key stakeholders and regular greenway users to talk about enforcement, education and design improvements, and to identify key problems. What’s missing is the sense that things will ever improve — will they? How do we know?

    There is a lot to talk about: will the path ever be widened at Chelsea Piers? Why do Parks Enforcement patrol two to a car instead of two in two scooters? Will the scary as hell bus/cab crossing at 40th St get redesigned to stop cabs from blasting left turns across it? Does Chelsea Piers or (WTF leads runs) try to get runners to use the vast promenade space adjacent to the river instead of the path? Why do some cruise ship dockings and special events include safety guys directing path traffic and some don’t — and who is keeping an eye on that? No doubt Sblog readers could fill pages with specific problems and suggestions.

  • Mike

    Sorry, “Hey asshole” betrays my NYC upbringing. I forget sometimes that we’re a kinder, gentler city now.

    Not sure if we’d need volunteers. It could be part of the cost of creating the pedestrian traffic for businesses. Chelsea Piers funds a traffic guy just north of their location to ease things at the intersection between cars and bikes, and he does a great job. Perhaps other businesses along the greenway (cruise ships, that weird Irish bar, the restaurant on the ship, the food court under the viaduct, the Intrepid, etc… could fund similar folks. Or maybe the landscaping and trash crews constantly working along the greenway could be trained to tell folks where to walk/ride/jog/rollerblade.

  • SheRidesABike

    See one suggestion (mine) below on this. I’ve also considered doing a ride/walk to systematically document conflict points that need improvement or dangerous conditions (because of sinkholes or poor lines of sight or whatever). Small groups could take on a mile or two each, spending a few hours, and then create reports for CBs, Parks, DOT, etc. Those could be used as the basis for local petitions for improvements, among other things.

  • SheRidesABike

    I forgot about the folks stationed at Chelsea Piers, and that’s good, and yes, good point that businesses should be responsible for some of this. But I also think involving a mix of recreational users can only be a good thing. Less likely to be seen an enforcers and more likely to be received as peers, which at least some people respond well to.

    As for “Hey asshole,” . . . I neither confirm nor deny occasionally adopting the ways of native New Yorkers in my moments of greater frustration 🙂

  • walks bikes drives

    Well, they pretty much are mobs of tourists. But, in my experience, NYPD does a fairly decent job of ushering them out of the way after a short period of time. Not for our benefit, I would assume, but for their safety.

    As far as the joggers go, they drive me nuts. I have mentioned in previous posts I have counted on many rides in nice weather, over 100 joggers in the 4.5 miles of clearly marked separated paths. While the safety implications to me are enormous, I am not sure of the exact legality of the separation, as in, can pedestrians/joggers be cited for any infraction for being there? Cyclists on roadways, taking a lane, etc., is written in law which gives true legality. What is the case with pedestrians? Other than, possibly, failure to follow signs?

  • Cold Shoaler

    Further, we aren’t talking about people simply jogging on the bike path, which I can sympathise with in certain places. But people jogging two abreast, with their back to oncoming cyclist and/or with earbuds in, paying no attention to their surroundings. I’ve seen joggers take out cyclist, and have nearly been taken out myself on a number of occasions – including this evening when a group of runners spontaneously did a u-turn across both lanes of the bike path without even looking. This was in an area, I might add, where the adjacent pedestrian space is quite wide and scenic.

  • walks bikes drives

    What is the difference between jogging on a sidewalk between a driveway and a building and a bike lane, where you might cause an accident with, or even get hit by a bicycle yourself, between a driveway and a highway?

  • Cold Shoaler

    I’m not justifying it, so much as saying I can understand why a pedestrian or jogger would make that choice – like people walking in the bike lanes on 8th Ave. I hate that, but understand why people leave the sidewalks. When people walk in the bike lane on other parts of the Hudson River Park, in addition to being incredibly annoyed, I’m perplexed by what their rationale would be. The esplanade to the west seems like a much nicer place to be.

  • I don’t find it confusing and have a hard time figuring out how anyone with a valid license to drive would end up there. Of course, we theoretically hold commercial drivers to even higher standards. Theoretically.

  • If you’ve got a better phrase for oblivious people standing around on clearly-marked greenways in large groups next to a tourist attraction, kindly enlighten us.

  • Joe R.

    I would think they can be cited under the same set of rules which prohibit walking along a road if a parallel sidewalk is available.

    That said, maybe some signs are in order. One I particularly like might be “Bike Lane” in large print, with “15 mph minimum speed for pedestrians in bike lane” in small print. Or perhaps this in very small print: “If you’re going slow enough to read this then you don’t belong here”. That might get the message across-unless you’re Usain Bolt don’t bother running in the bike lane. Granted, there may be some overlap between very slow cyclists and very fast joggers in terms of speed, but I would imagine most cyclists on the greenway are doing at least 12 or 13 mph.

    It continues to irk me why in this city even when cyclists and pedestrians have designated spaces neither can stick to them. Pedestrians are admittedly the bigger offenders here, but a fair number of cyclists cycle along paths where riding is expressly prohibited, even sometimes when parallel bike routes are available.

  • Joe R.

    I use a lot a terms much more vulgar than “hey asshole” when someone pisses me off. I’m sure some of the more colorful ones betray my lifelong NYer status. Some of those include cursing in Italian (I picked up bits and pieces here from my mom, even though I don’t really speak Italian other than knowing some words). For those who wish to be “enlightened”:

    http://www.youswear.com/?language=Italian

  • walks bikes drives

    I can’t understand the choice to not go along the river views either, except maybe for pure selfishness that they might have to step around people that are walking. Instead, they choose the bike lane. Now, this argument might seem hypocritical, except to look at the differences in potential outcomes. A jogger bumps into a walker, or visa versa, and the chance of injury to one or both parties is fairly negligible. A jogger bumps into a cyclist, and the chance of injury to one or both is much higher. Now, I can’t tell you how many times I have been bumped by a jogger while on the esplanade. As annoying as it is to get bumped by a jogger when I am the only obsticle between either edge of the path, I would still rather that happen than bump into a jogger when I am cycling. Even if I am only doing 10-12mph through there.

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