Happy Bike Month! Cyclists Must Dismount on Greenway, No One Knows Why

Update: The Parks Department sent us this statement Thursday evening: “Ensuring the safety of all during the holiday weekend, in preparation of increased pedestrian traffic during Fleet Week, NYC Parks has posted signs requesting cyclists dismount and walk their bikes on the west side greenway between 56-46th streets.”

Update: The Hudson River Park Trust sent us this statement Friday: “The Hudson River Park Bikeway is open, but users may be asked to dismount due to Fleet Week crowds. We ask that riders please adhere to the posted signs, and we appreciate their patience as we work to ensure safety along the Bikeway. “

Parks Department officers are ordering cyclists to dismount on the Hudson River Greenway in Midtown and ticketing people who don’t comply.

Streetsblog reader Joanna Oltman Smith tweeted photos of what look like uniformed Park Enforcement Patrol officers issuing a ticket to a cyclist near 45th Street, and another blocking the greenway with a “dismount bike” stop sign. She says the dismount zone is in effect between 46th and 49th Street, interrupting the biggest transportation artery for bikes in the city, if not the nation.

We contacted the Parks Department and the Hudson River Park Trust about the dismount zone. No one who answered the phone could say why cyclists are being asked to dismount, but it seems probable that whatever is happening is related to Fleet Week. The Parks Department press office and the Hudson River Park Trust have both said they’re looking into it.

Making people walk their bikes is not a rational response to past incidents. In 2011 a motorist killed Steve Jorgenson, a Marine in town for Fleet Week, as he and his shipmates exited a cab on the West Side Highway at W. 49th Street.

The greenway is controlled by city and state agencies, and the state has jurisdiction below 59th Street. Whatever the intent behind the dismount zone may be, it’s emblematic of greenway managers’ longstanding failure to recognize this route as a vital bike transportation corridor.

  • reasonableexplanation

    Well, looking at google maps, the hudson river greenway is about as wide as a single vehicle lane of the WSH next to it. So physical width can’t be it in this case.

    https://goo.gl/maps/4yyhehopJqx

  • Vooch

    plenty of PBLs in City already see peak demand of 700-800/hour.

    And They have effective widths of 4′

  • Vooch

    check the width by Chelsea Piers – less than 3′ each direction

  • reasonableexplanation

    Looks about the same to me:

    https://goo.gl/maps/ZweHz2EUqax

  • ahwr

    Which ones?

  • reasonableexplanation

    Which ones? According to the data posted by ahwr below, as well as your own comments, the hudson river greenway is the most utilized bike lane in all of North America. Every other lane would have less traffic, not more.

  • Vooch

    1st and 2nd Ave PBLs for certain

    l

  • reasonableexplanation

    Look at the data posted by ahwr below: the 1st ave bike lane saw at most 1900 bikes over an entire 18 hour period, the 2nd ave one had 2200. This equates to an average of 106 and 122 bikes per hour, respectively.

    You’re way off.

  • Vooch

    DOT is way off. Anyone can sit at a sidewalk cafe during rush hour and count bikes while sipping a cool tropical drink. 15 minutes will be more than enough to convince anyone that routine rush hour demand is 500 per hour and peak demand is 700-800.

    Clarence counted bikes last week on QB bridge on a random Monday and DOT was undercounting by 20%.

    TA counted bikes on 5th and 6th last year and concluded more than 10% of roadway traffic is bikes.

    go to Central Park during a weekend afternoon, you’ll see bike flows of >1,500 an hour on a 6′ width path.

  • reasonableexplanation

    I mean, I don’t think we can have a data driven conversation about the topic if you refuse to trust the official numbers, and claim that they’re off by an order of magnitude.

    We can continue to have a philosophical conversation about the issue, however (There’s much to discuss!)

  • Vooch

    Philosophy:

    1) Remove all subsidies from all modes.

    2) Prioritize Walking, then buses, then cycling, then deliveries & work trucks, then Taxis & VFH, then if there is any room left; private cars

  • ahwr

    http://www.nymtc.org/Data-and-Modeling/Transportation-Data-and-Statistics/Publications/Hub-Bound-Travel

    Hub bound has hourly breakdowns for bike counts. It’s the same numbers DOT collects for their 18 hour fall counts. But NYCDOT is annoying and won’t publish stuff in an easy to find place, so look at it through hub bound.

    2014 report says peak hour on hudson river greenway is 6-7pm, 913 bikes two way.

    http://www.streetsblog.org/2015/08/28/construction-begins-on-new-151st-street-bridge-to-hudson-river-greenway/#comment-2226533402

    Vooch:

    the Hudson river bikeway is already at significantly over capacity

    http://www.streetsblog.org/2015/11/05/momentum-builds-for-safety-improvements-on-broadway-in-west-harlem/#comment-2345656064

    Vooch:

    ~500 bikes/hour

    Yes, That starts approaching peak capacity for a 5′ wide bike path given current rider culture and the unique obstacles of the Manhattan Bridge. Theoretical peak capacity might be 750/hour for this path.

    http://www.streetfilms.org/counting-bicyclists-on-nycs-manhattan-bridge/#comment-1627785489

    In this video they count 234 bikes in 20 minutes. The October screenline count showed inbound 8-9am 605 cyclists, 9-10am 690 cyclists. 59 and 67 outbound.

    Komanoff:

    The video definitely makes a strong case for adding cycle capacity to the East River bridges!

    If it’s possible for a ten foot bikeway to move 7500 bikes, it’s not how anybody wants/expects to ride.

  • Nathan Rosenquist

    I thought walkers weren’t allowed on the greenway, only runners and cyclists. Why are the intended users being sidelined in favor of those who are technically not allowed? People need to get to work, this is unacceptable.

  • ahwr

    I thought walkers weren’t allowed on the greenway, only runners and cyclists. Why are the intended users being sidelined in favor of those who are technically not allowed?

    Is this really the best argument? Should NYC stop closing highways and bridges to motor vehicles to accommodate marathons and bike rides?

  • Nathan Rosenquist

    What are you saying, that having a pre-announced closing of motor lanes of a bridge that has alternative routes, for several hours on a weekend, is akin to closing the only viable bike route on the west side for an entire week without forewarning? I’m sorry, I don’t see it. By the way I’m sure an even better argument does exist, but mine is the first one that comes to my mind.

  • ahwr

    Walking your bike on the greenway for 3-8 blocks is less of a delay than taking the alternative routes you think drivers have. This impacts less than 10k people a day, closing the Verazzano for a few hours impacts far more.

    And is the greenway closed during peak hours? At least some of the past fleet week closures were only off peak.

    That said, the city should have routed cyclists onto a lane of west street.

  • This is a good point. If the Parks Dept. is going to deploy people on the Greenway, it should be for the purpose of informing pedestrians of the need to stick to pedestrian spaces. That is the problem on the Greenway that requires addressing.

    While there are some stretches of the Greenway that are shared, most of it has separate spaces for bicycles and for pedestrians. But the incursion into the bicycle space by people on foot is constant, sometimes reaching Brooklyn Bridge-level proportions. It is the frustration caused by this unchecked inappropriate behaviour by walkers and runners (along with the remote location of the Greenway) which keeps me from using that route more. And now I have an additional reason to avoid it.

  • The 7500-bike capacity of a ten-foot-wide lane is a pipe dream.

    Ten feet wide is three meter-wide lanes, so 2500 bicyclists per lane per hour. Assume speed of travel at 15 km per hour (9.3 mph) the speed at which bicycling takes the same amount of energy as walking. So 6 meters per passing bicyclist. But bicycles are about 1.5 m long, so 3 bike lengths between each bicycle’s rear wheel and the front wheel of the following bike.

    Changing lanes or making a right turn in that kind of bike traffic would be insanely difficult; making a left turn, cutting into the 4.5 meters between two bicycles going in the opposite direction as you, without hitting either of them, would be nearly impossible.

    With regards to the Williamsburg Bridge bike path in particular, having the Manhattan path entrance located on the Delancey Street median means that every single bicyclist has to cross Delancey Street’s motorized-vehicle lanes in order to get off the bridge.

    A one-minute red light for bikes on a 7500 bikes/hour path stops 41 bikes in each lane. Those 41 bicyclists each have less than a second and a half to accelerate back to 15 km/h from a standstill in order to clear the jam in the lane during the green light.

    This is not the kind of bicycling that is attractive to anyone, so I’m not sure it makes sense as even a theoretical upper limit.

  • Everyone needs to relax. They did this cause the entire bike path is crowded with people because the sidewalk is closed for security reason. People are visiting the ships for fleet week and there are lines and security measures. I dismounted my bike and guess what it wasn’t bad. For one day I was put out. Big deal. Get over it guys and gals

  • Vooch

    it’s a question of blocking a vital transportation path for thousands of commuters. not trivial. The solution is simple and proven, because it was successfully implemented for Fleet Week in the past – reroute cycling traffic on one of 12th avenue protected by plastic jersey barriers.

    rerouting cycling traffic onto 1 lane of 12th Avenue actually takes less Security resources than the system used this past week. Plus it provides even more space for the pedestrian crowds who don’t need to jostle with people walking bikes on the path.

    Finally, reallocating one lane of 12th avenue enhances security because it places potential car bombs another 15th further from the military and the crowds.

    somene wasn’t thinking this time around; they should adopt the prior successful system

    cheaper
    safer
    more secure

  • Joe R.

    To get some idea of the ultimate peak capacity bikes might be capable of you would look at peletons in professional racing circles. You might have 100+ riders go by in one traffic lane in perhaps 10 seconds. That equates to over 30K bikes per hour per 10 foot traffic lane. That kind of flow isn’t sustainable due to the inevitable bottlenecks. Just a 15 second wait at a red light will result in 150 cyclists piling up. On top of that, there is no room for error. Someone screws up, a bunch of people go down. Besides this, only professionals can ride like that, not commuter cyclists.

    Whether or not 7500 cyclists per 10 foot lane is possible or sustainable is moot. As you said, nobody wants to ride that way. My own preference is to have at least half a block in front of and behind me. I start feeling boxed in if the next rider is much closer than that. At half a block spacing at maybe 18 mph that gives you ~700 bikes/hour in one bike width, or about 2100/hour in a ten-foot lane. Even at this density backups at traffic lights can start to result in long queues of riders. Bottom line—if any major bike trunk routes start to hit these kinds of numbers for major portions of the day we need to engineer any stopping out of them or we’re not getting anywhere near even 2000 bikes/hour.

  • Vooch

    the 7,500 bikes per hour in a “lane” is empirically derived from hard data in Asia and Europe

  • Maggie

    enh – I got caught biking southbound through this last year at Memorial Day and it was awful. Total sardine can experience for blocks, with MOBS of cyclists, people walking, sailors, tourists, crammed next to the six undercapacity car lanes on the WSH. It was a pretty bad misallocation of public space.

  • Nope; look at this video from Clarence E of Copenhagen:

    http://www.streetfilms.org/watch-as-copenhagen-drivers-turning-right-exhibit-incredible-patience-for-cyclists-as-they-should/

    These lanes are no more crowded than the Manhattan Bridge footage with 700 bikes per hour.

    http://www.streetfilms.org/counting-bicyclists-on-nycs-manhattan-bridge/#comment-1627785489

  • Vooch

    yup – check this out Copenhagen Rush Hour – easily 7x more cyclists “per Lane” than motor cars

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=FXw_t172BKY

  • Vooch

    another video

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=by2UgFHu-Sg

    Few hundred bikes per Minute

  • I didn’t count even 75 bikes in the video’s 52 seconds. Not persuasive.

  • Sped-up film. Not persuasive.

  • redbike

    +1 to Maggie.

    Not looking for trouble, I found myself biking adjacent to the Hudson south- and northbound three times on Sun 29 May.

    The first time was southbound shortly after midnight. Lots of warning signs, but only a modest security presence at 55th St, and the “dismount” signs were at the edge of the pedpath. Echoing Maggie’s comment, 12th Av southbound wasn’t virtually empty; it was empty. (There may have been some police activity to which I was oblivious.) There was a small crush of foot traffic – mostly military – from 48th St to 46th St where there’s a separate adjacent path for foot traffic that was oddly closed. Not directing any snark at the military folks, but their situational awareness was utterly non-existent; I only remark on it because it’s a bit scary considering their day jobs.

    Mid-day Sunday, I biked northbound. Anticipating a crunch on the pedpath, at 41st St I crossed to the east side of 12th Av and headed north in the right lane: no problems whatsoever, and I crossed back to the pedpath at 56th St.

    Southbound Sunday afternoon, I stayed on the pedpath. There was a “dismount” sign blocking the pedpath at 48th St. I followed other cyclists (and other cyclists followed me) exiting the pedpath and continuing south to 42nd St in 12th Av’s right lane.

    Yes, I’m appalled that the busiest section of the I-95 of bike paths is annually closed on a whim, but, with even modest good will and the same amount of signage deployed to guide folks visiting from Away, 12th Av offers a reasonable alternative to the pedpath, and that’s without deploying barriers.

  • Vooch

    70 per Minute = >4,200/hour

    not even near capacity

  • Vooch

    There are easily 7x As Many cyclists vs cars moving per Lane.

    look at how Few cars move Past versus cyclists. Austounding how inefficient cars are for mobility

  • Vooch
  • Tyson White

    They should set up a detour for bikes, not close it.

  • ummm…

    runners arent allowed on the greenway

  • There are sections of the Greenway which are meant to be shared between cyclists and pedestrians/joggers. And there are other sections in which cyclists and pedestrians/joggers each have their own separate lane. Unfortunately, even in those latter sections, many pedestrians and joggers insist on using the bike lanes, creating not only inconvenience but danger.

    Add to this the problem of bicyclists not stopping at the few red lights on the Greenway, and not yielding to pedestrians crossing at the crosswalks. It is extremely disheartening to be stopped at one of these locations, only to see other cyclists zooming right past, taking no heed of their responsibilities. This leads to the embarassing sight of crossing pedestrians, who are entitled to the right of way and to safe and stress-free crossing, having to scoot across the Greenway, sometimes while nervously herding their children.

    It is a shame that a spot in New York City that is supposed to be a comfortable car-free zone for bicyclists and pedestrians/joggers is ruined by the terrible behaviour of both parties towards one another.

  • JamesR

    I’ve done the same thing as you and feel like a chump for waiting as other cyclists blow by me on both sides. I frequently see cyclists bully peds in the same way that cars bully cyclists. Cyclists nearly taking out families walking with children on the greenway, etc. What this tells me is that it’s as much about the people as it is about the mode, and that even if you ban cars, ped bullying will continue, led by bikes this time instead of cars.”Meet the new boss, same as the old boss”. There’s just not enough city to go around for everyone who wants a piece.

  • Joe R.

    The problem here is the greenway is a victim of its own success. I don’t think anyone anticipated how much it would be used both recreationally, and by commuter cyclists. Compounding the problem is the fact there really exists no other relatively stress-free, more or less non-stop north-south route in Manhattan for cyclists. We really need to build something similar along at least a few of the avenues to take the load off the greenway, which frankly wasn’t designed to handle the type of bike traffic it’s seeing.

    In essence the same problem really exists in ALL of NYC where cyclists and pedestrians are fighting it out for the scraps left over from cars. Pedestrians walk in protected bike lanes because sidewalks are too narrow for the volumes of people walking. Cyclists ignore red lights because there are just too many of them, and absolutely no consideration is given to travel time in any NYC cycling infrastructure. Bad infrastructure begets bad behavior and vice versa. NYC needs a lot more non-stop bike trunk routes. This would take the load off the handful which exist. It would beget better behavior by cyclists on surface streets in terms of yielding to pedestrians. It would increase the numbers cycling. It would make cycling a much faster way to get around than even the subway. The obvious downside is cost. We’ll need to spend serious money to make non-stop bike routes. At the very least it will require overpasses at busier intersections. On streets like the Manhattan Avenues you’ll probably need a viaduct.

    It’s really a pity we’ve been so reluctant to repurpose space from private automobiles. That’s what has caused this quandary in the first place. If we could have used a lane on the West Side highway for bikes then the problem is solved. If we could reduce motor traffic volumes elsewhere enough to remove most traffic signals then the need for things like bike viaducts vanishes. It’s the very shortage of decent bike or pedestrian spaces in this city which leads to the bad behavior you’re seeing.

  • Joe R.

    There would be plenty of room if we didn’t insist on devoting so much space to private automobiles, both for driving them and for parking them. The sheer amount of space we use just for curbside parking alone is mind-boggling. We have to realize private automobiles, at least the 2 or 3-ton ICE powered behemoths, are incompatible with urban areas. If we must have private, motorized transportation, then it should take the form of either e-bikes or electric microcars. Reduce traffic volumes, use smaller vehicles, get rid of most traffic signals. These things will all beget better behavior by everyone, as well as making cycling or walking much faster than it is now.

  • ummm…

    Yes, indeed there are some shared spaces. but mostly they are because of construction – such as at 14th street. Many think the straight before the Intrepid is also pedestrian friendly but it is not. It has a small walking/running path to the side, although if I was a runner I’d be unhappy with that dangerous allotment. Besides those two spots I dont think there is one other shared stretch. I’m not bothered by the red lights (in some spots there are a high density of lights) as overall there are not too many to be bothered by. I’m bothered by pedestrians that can’t gauge the speed and distance of cyclists approaching a crossing, or just dont look. I’m bothered by cyclists that dont follow my lead and come to a stop at crossings where the pedestrian had gotten to the crossing WELL before we have. I’m bothered by runners in the cycling path. I’m bothered by cyclists that can’t keep a straight line and dont look back often; I’m botehred by runners and cylists that have two earbuds in; I’m bothered by the brexit vote. I’m bothered that two and a half men and the big bang theory having now taken the place of my 11:30 Seinfeld re run.

    Most of all, I’m bothered by the lackluster public info campaign re: cycling and walking in this city. The only thing that any city agency can muster is to tell us to where flashlights to cars dont hit us at night and other dumb car related hysteria. What about EDUCATING CYCLISTS AND PEDESTRIANS. That is the problem. Cars will do whatever they want as long as clueless deaf (because of earbuds) runners and cyclists dont TAKE THE LANE and do their part to make the streets a safer place. That doesn’t mean slow. That means keep your head on a swivel, cycle/run defensively, and respect the other bags of meat around you.

  • ummm…

    im not sure what you mean by ped bullying. if a person is so thoughtless, so unaware, so incompetant as to be walking in a clearly marked – and clearly being used by – bike lane then they deserve to be told as much. same goes for cyclists that dont have a clue. If you are not keeping your line, then you must be told. If you are going the wrong way then you must be told. If you have two ear buds in, TOLD! If you are taking selfies – told! I can go on but I wont. What is important is two things. I am not the only one using the road and not everyone goes at my speed or understands the “etiquette”. Secondly, other must understand that I dont go at their speed (riding in zig zag patterns and never looking back) and they need to make an effort to be respectful to other users of the road. If we were in cars we wouldn’t be straddling to lanes riding at 10 mpg down the west side highway – not sure why people on bikes feel that they can do the equivalent. Know your surroundings.

  • ummm…

    no im not sure if the only solution is getting rid of cars. I’m not sure if that is possible. Sure it has been engineered before, but this is one of the largest cities in the world and it would be the first in its class to do so. I think it is about street architecture more so than getting rid of cars. I dont need a new york city where there are not cars. I need a new york city where the car, the bike and the pedestrian respect each other – or at least allowed the fewest points to come into contact. I think it is a large part behavioral as well as structural. We are in the infancy of this sort of movement amongst the worlds most dense cities. I think that the viability of all modes does not hinge on the “forced” diminishing of one – but possibly the promotion of the benefits of others. The publics heart must be won – it is of equal importance.

  • Joe R.

    Separation of modes is a good approach also, but it should be complete separation, especially at intersections where most conflicts occur. The disparate needs of motor vehicles, cyclists, and pedestrians typically mean optimizing intersections for one (usually motor vehicles) at the expense of the others. The problem is course is we obviously don’t want to spend the money to do this. It would entail at least overpasses, probably in many cases bike viaducts or tunnels. It would also entail skyways for pedestrians, with second floor entrances on buildings so they don’t need to constantly go up or down. I don’t doubt this model would work great, but it would also cost quite a bit. The alternative, which is to reduce the number of private cars, and/or get their size/weight down to something more suited to cities, makes a lot more sense to me.

  • JamesR

    “if a person is so thoughtless, so unaware, so incompetant….”

    Thousands are, every single day.

    I get it. I ride, and I walk. I see the conflict points every day. I just don’t want or need that level of confrontation in my daily life when undertaking what should ostensibly be a low-stress activity. My point was that as the faster mode, the onus is on the cyclists to not endanger peds by weaving between them like a slalom course. It’s not okay.

  • JamesR

    “The publics heart must be won – it is of equal importance.”

    I don’t know if that’s possible in a place as polyglot and transient as NYC. The “public” is constantly in flux here in a way that it isn’t in places that have a more settled population base. The public, such as it is, doesn’t know what it wants and is inherently reactive, rather than proactive the vast majority of the time.

  • ummm…

    im not sure if the character of this city is any different than another city as far as population movement. Also be aware that level of transience can change dramatically outside of central business districts – in this case the outer boroughs. I’m also not sure if more static cities have an easier time at reform as it means policies can stay in place for decades because of a general lack of interest or hostile political generation, as well as less resources.

    Also, in a space that can be transient and diverse (nyc), small organized interests with resources can have great effect.

  • ummm…

    i dunno, I’m not sure we should assume cycling should be low stress. I mean im not riding down the boardwalk. If you are commuting, or cycling for sport, then it can be a high stress activity. I think if a person is walking in the middle of the road, then they need to be told. It helps everyone involved. We need to educate each other. Im not on the road to claim my space, I’m on the road to enter into the public space – that requires cooperation and etiquette.

    EDIT: Of course one also “doesn’t sweat the small stuff”. It is a crowded city. Lots of times you just let it go. But, when you can say something – you say something. Its like people standing in the doorway on the train and refusing to move at each stop – somebody at some point is going to speak up and have to say “excuse me”, in the least.

  • ummm…

    so you believe that we should be moving towards optimization of all modes of traffic; an uninterupted voyage from point A to B. I’m not sure this is the ultimate goal that should shape our systems. your idea of perfection may be different from that of others. possibly others want a different asthetic, or valuation. Possibly the money needed for such an undertaken is better spent elsewhere based on value per dollar. Are we destined to live like the jetsons, or even better, star trek. Why ride a bike or car, if we can just beam ourselves everywhere.

    I suppose it all comes down to safety, but what do we “lose”.

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