Security Theater Continues to Squeeze West Side Greenway

State DOT said it would re-orient jersey barriers to make them parallel with the path, but three days later, many barriers are still straddling the greenway at dangerous angles.

Bulky jersey barriers remain strewn across the Hudson River Greenway at dangerous angles, three days after state DOT said they would be straightened out. Photo copyright Shmuli Evers, used with permission.
Bulky jersey barriers remain strewn across the Hudson River Greenway at dangerous angles, three days after state DOT said they would be straightened out. Photo copyright Shmuli Evers, used with permission.

After New York State DOT dropped long concrete barriers at 31 crossings on the Hudson River Greenway in response to last week’s truck ramming attack, Mayor de Blasio said the placement needed to change so “people can still ride their bikes.” The state DOT promised on Friday to straighten out the barriers to make more room for people using the greenway, but dangerous pinch points remain.

In some locations, state DOT has moved the orange construction barrels and painted the ends of barriers orange to make them visible. These jersey barriers are still straddling the greenway at awkward angles, however, as you can see in these photographs by Shmuli Evers taken this morning.

Photo: Shmuli Evers
Photo: Shmuli Evers

The barriers narrow the asphalt to as little as three feet wide in some locations. That’s not much for people biking single-file, let alone all the passing movements and two-way traffic on Hudson River Greenway. Hilda Cohen has the tale of the tape:

At 26 other greenway crossings, NYPD put in concrete cubes to block motor vehicle access. While the cubes still narrow the greenway more than bollards, they aren’t placed at strange angles, and people biking on the path report that they’re much less obtrusive than the jersey barriers. Some but not all of the state DOT’s jersey barriers have been replaced with concrete cubes, Evers said.

NYPD installed concrete cubes at 26 pedestrian crossing along the greenway, including here at Houston Street. Photo: Mark Gorton
NYPD installed concrete cubes at 26 pedestrian crossing along the greenway, including here at Houston Street. Photo: Mark Gorton

Replacing the remaining jersey barriers with cubes could be a simple short-term fix that makes the greenway tolerable while permanent measures are developed.

Streetsblog asked state DOT whether any progress has been made toward a long-term solution and for more detail on what steps have been taken since Thursday to address the hazards created by the jersey barriers. The agency has yet to respond.

  • Vooch

    the obvious best solution is to simple turn these barriers 90 degrees and place them parallel to West Street blocking the entrances to cars.

    It’s the cars that are the danger not the bikes

  • redbike

    An alternative I’ve seen discussed that may have merit is a “tiger trap”: segments of the path next to motor vehicle access points are what’s described as “compressible concrete”, sturdy enough to support folks on bicycles, but if a motor vehicle tries to cross, the surface collapses.


    Both the articles cited were published more than 10 years ago. I’ve passed the intersection in Battery Park City at Vesey St and North End Av many times, but I’ve not seen the installation referred to. (North End Av south of Vesey St is blocked by more or less conventional security barriers.) Dunno whether the “compressible concrete” is still there. If yes, how’s it doin’? If no, what went wrong?

  • AMH

    That’s what I’ve been saying all along! The path is completely blocked but there’s nothing obstructing car traffic.

  • Joe R.

    The only issue with compressible concrete is that some vehicles, like ambulances and parks department trucks, still need access to the greenway. I have no idea what the final implementation will be here, but my first choice would be retractable bollards.

  • AMH

    That is excellent–we should be building every sidewalk out of Tiger Trap concrete. That might actually stop the scourge of sidewalk driving.

  • Simon Phearson

    Well, it’s not car traffic that’s causing the problem.

    Or wait…

  • KeNYC2030
  • Jeff

    This is almost reasonable. And channelizing bike traffic and disallowing passing at intersections isn’t a horrible thing either–I’m sick of Fred en route to 9W blowing past me every time I have the audacity to yield to crossing pedestrians.

  • End Car Brain

    I bet these NYS-DOT folks are upstaters with zero familiarity with any mode except a car. Their offices and homes are in car-dependent places, and the only time they may have used a bicycle, or walked on human-scaled streets for that matter, is on recreational jaunts to ‘quaint towns’ or a trail to nowhere. Forget about transit; totally not a part of their lives.

    The subject of state DOTs being car-focused and in car-dependent places has been covered at Streetsblog and elsewhere. Time for Governor Cuomo to reorient NYS-DOT to an urban paradigm, and fast.

  • HamTech87

    What’s wrong with this? See marker 2:30.


  • redbike

    I suppose “tiger trap” / “compressible concrete” sidewalks could work in some locations, but not everywhere. In the oldest parts of the NYC, some sidewalks are built over vaults – extensions of a building’s cellar under the sidewalk. Elsewhere, they’re built over subway rights-of-way. But yes, let’s add the concept to the tool kit and implement it where possible.

  • redbike

    Yep, almost.

  • redbike

    In principle, you’re right; no argument from me. But the notion of maintenance and emergency vehicle access to this path was quickly jettisoned in favor of Jersey barriers and concrete cubes.

  • redbike

    For NYS DOT (they’re the ones with jurisdiction) to accept retractable bollards, they’d have to be shown to be capable of stopping heavy trucks traveling at speed. Reportedly, compressible concrete passes this test; dunno about retractable bollards. Also, when the bollards are extended, they diminish the width of the path; not so with a tiger trap / compressible concrete surface.

    I’m not working on commission for the compressible concrete folks, but I am a fan of lowest-tech-that-does-the-job solutions.

  • JTP Choons

    What is wrong with these idiots that they cannot apply the most basic common sense to anything. It almost seems like they’re going out of their way to do everything as stupidly as possible.

  • walks bikes drives

    But these are temporary measures. The most likely outcome of this on a permanent basis will be removable bollards – concrete filled metal tubes about 3 feet high slid into metal tubes about 4 feet deep set in concrete with a padlock attaching them to a collar. Remove the padlock, pull up the bollard, and a truck can get through.

  • ahwr

    Remove the padlock, pull up the bollard, and a truck can get through

    And then leave the bollard on the side of the path for weeks or months at a time because it’s a pain in the ass to move. Bollards should be fixed or automated. If someone can find an existing example of ‘manual’ bollards that are used responsibly, and an argument that potentially relevant factors like local culture will allow that success to be repeated in NYC, I’ll change my mind.

  • Vooch


  • AMH

    Right–it’s a symptom of the prevalence of sidewalk driving that there have to be “Hollow Sidewalk” signs all over the place in these locations.

    As a side note, I’ve always found it odd that we build sidewalks out of concrete and streets out of asphalt. Many cities throughout the world use soft asphalt on sidewalks, which is easily worked whenever digging is required (no jackhammers!). Sidewalks are supposed to be for foot traffic, after all.

  • The smallest cars are around 6 feet wide. Theres no reason to have a smaller gap than that

  • Rex Rocket

    Uh…that top picture, you drive your truck over the shrubs.

  • jeff

    Does the DOT think that the next ISIS-inspired terrorist is going to drive over to the west side bike path, see the barriers, proclaim “Dang – they foiled my plot!” and give up on terrorism? What about the other 5,000+ miles of streets, sidewalks, parks, paths etc in NYC, including Central Park and Prospect Park where cars and trucks are free to run over joggers and kids? Who is the genius who came up with this idea?

    Almost comically, many of the barriers just South of 60th street block stretches of path that are less than 100 feet long, but there is no barrier blocking the 2+ miles of path to the North of 60th street. Apparently the DOT believes that future terrorists will only do precisely what the last terrorist did, and since he turned left, not right, there’s no need to prevent someone from turning right at 60th st.

    If the next terrorist rams into a crowd on, say, the Northeast corner of 34th and 7th, will the DOT then block off the Northeast corner of 34th and 7th with concrete barriers? That seems to be their policy. At this rate, it will only take a few thousand more terrorist attacks before the whole city is full of concrete barriers and nobody can move anywhere.