Tonight: Testify Before CB 7 Votes on Riverside Park Greenway Detour

This elevation map gives a sense of the inclines cyclists would contend with on the detour by the 79th Street Rotunda, instead of the flat waterfront path. Image: NYC Parks Department

A late addition to the calendar: Manhattan Community Board 7 will vote on the Parks Department’s proposal to route cyclists away from the waterfront greenway between 72nd Street and 83rd Street. If you want to preserve access to the flatter, straighter, better-lit waterfront path during the majority of the year when crowding is not an issue, tonight is the time to testify.

The Parks Department wants to direct cyclists inland onto a hilly, wooded path that passes through the 79th Street Rotunda, which has a particularly steep incline and is frequently occupied by cars and trucks attempting to access the nearby boat basin. Last month, CB 7’s Parks and Environment Committee voted 4 to 1 in favor of the plan, but a strong turnout tonight could influence the final vote by the whole community board.

At last month’s meeting, some attendees asked for the detour to be limited to crowded warm-weather months when pedestrians and cyclists can’t fit comfortably on the waterfront path. They were especially concerned about icy pavement on steep inclines along the detour in cold weather. But the Parks Department was adamant about a year-round re-route.

The Parks Department has consistently failed to recognize the greenway’s important role in the city’s transportation network. It’s the most-biked route in the city and the West Side’s only north-south bike route with continuous protection from motor vehicles.

While it’s uncommon for a full board to overturn a committee vote, it can happen when many people turn out to testify. Tonight’s meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. at Mount Sinai West Hospital, at 10th Avenue and West 59th Street.

The Parks Department wants to permanently divert cyclists from the flat waterfront greenway to the hillier path marked by the bold dotted green line. Image: NYC Parks
The Parks Department wants to permanently divert cyclists from the flat waterfront greenway to a hillier path marked by the bold dotted green line. Image: NYC Parks
  • AMH

    This sounds like a great bike route is about to get really crappy. Whom can I write to if I can’t make the meeting?

  • JK

    Meanwhile, with minimal public notice, the Parks Committee of CB 1 in Queens voted 4-1 to convert Queens Plaza into a grassy meadow. Motorists will have to turn out in overwhelming numbers to the full board meeting to have motor vehicle access restored. DOT’s borough plaza coordinator said the move was long overdue and the DOT Commissioner said she deferred to that official’s expertise.

  • KeNYC2030

    “Overturning” the committee vote is not necessary. All that is needed is an amendment to the current resolution, such as providing that the detour should be in force only during such and such times. The full board amends committee resolutions all the time. But this won’t happen unless there’s a presence in the room calling for that.

  • baverso

    Which part(s) of Queen Plaza? Not sure how this congested area could be transformed into anything.

  • walks bikes drives

    There are actually some very positive aspects to this plan. And if they get some of the kinks ironed out, such as full funding for grade improvements, maintenance, signage, and safety above the rotunda (close the garage?), I think I might actually prefer it.

  • MatthewEH

    I was at the meeting and spoke against the resolution as proposed. Other than smoothing some of the worst potholes in that part of the path, there’s no money for improvements other than signage in this part of the path. Certainly nothing for regrading.

    Neither the parks committee chair nor the people there from Parks came with data on how steep the grade gets there. I’ve read here it gets up to 14% from the south sidepath to the rotunda.

  • Vooch

    reallocate one lane of Henry Hudson Parkway and 12th Street for cyclists from Memorial Day to Labor Day. problem solved

  • nu nu

    So can you report on how the meeting went? I am gutted that I couldn’t be there

  • MatthewEH

    I had to leave early, shortly after my remarks.

  • AMH

    I would be interested in some coverage of the meeting as well. I had to leave before they even got to the public comments.

  • MatthewEH

    Report from Steve Vaccaro is here:

    Making the detour seasonal was a tie vote in the board, 20-20, so the amendment did not pass. 🙁

  • MatthewEH

    14% is inaccurate; more like 7-8% for short stretches is more advisable.

  • Joe R.

    Grades and cycling is probably a subject where books have been written but in a nutshell the gradient duration is as important as its steepness. An interminable 3% or 4% grade can be a real burden for many cyclists. A short 10% grade might not be. What’s key here is whether or not your speed can carry you most of the way uphill. If the 8% grade only lasts a block or so, getting a good running start before hitting it makes it tolerable. The key is not needing to slog uphill. I’m not familiar with the area in question so I can’t say if that’s the case here. Someone else mentioned hitting the grade at 20 mph and dropping to ~15 mph by the top. If true, this doesn’t strike me as a killer hill.

  • MatthewEH

    The lead up to the steep part of this hill is probably a 2-4 percent grade for 100+ yards beforehand, coming from either direction.. And there are pedestrians on these paths too. It’s actually rather difficult to be carrying very much speed into the steep parts.

  • Joe R.

    100+ yards of 2% to 4% grades is going to slow you down by the time you hit the steep portion regardless of how much speed you’re carrying at the beginning of the ascent.

    What concerns me just as much going uphill is going downhill. Cyclists are going to be carrying some serious speed downhill when they merge back into the regular path. When you factor in everything, I’m not seeing how this detour makes things any better for pedestrians. It probably makes more sense for the walking path to take the hill given that it’s much easier to climb grades on foot.

  • ItsEasyBeingGreen


    It was truly striking to see how differently this proposal to kick cyclists off the Greenway was handled by this CB, compared to proposals for protected bike paths on Columbus and Amsterdam that were stymied for years by demands for “more data, more study.” Those protected bike paths were proposed by Dep’t of Transportation staffers armed to the teeth with traffic counts, crash statistics, and other empirically-based arguments why the proposed bike paths would work.

    In contrast, last night’s detour proposal was not supported by any meaningful empirical investigation at all. Parks Department reps and other proponents of the detour could not say what the cyclist and pedestrian volumes were in the affected area; what the numbers, dates/times, or circumstances of any collisions or other incidents were; what the grades of the ascent up to the traffic rotary are (they are approximately 7-8%); and whether the design of the proposed detour met federal and other engineering standards for heavily-used multi-use paths (approximately 400 cyclists per hour during peak use).

  • Tag Gross

    When will CB7 and the CIty recognize that we live with aggressive and ill mannered pedestrians. Follow the painted signs and take your headphones off and pay attention and there will not be issues. CB7 and the DOT ruined the entire UWS with the West End Avenue lane reduction. We now live in dangerous streest with more aggressive driving, toxic emissions, and endless horn honking. Broadway is a mess as well. Now this! They don’t just want to eliminate cars they want to eliminate bikes! It’s insanity. When will it be safe enough? WHen they lock us inside.


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