Winter Is Coming and No One Knows How the Hudson River Greenway Will Get Plowed

The state DOT and the Hudson River Park Trust did not respond to queries about how new protective barriers would affect snow and ice removal.

Greenway users need to know there’s a plan for keeping greenway security zones clear of ice and snow. Photo copyright Shmuli Evers, used with permission.
Greenway users need to know there’s a plan for keeping greenway security zones clear of ice and snow. Photo copyright Shmuli Evers, used with permission.

It took a week for the agencies responsible for the Hudson River Greenway to orient new security barriers into a configuration that lets bike and pedestrian traffic flow semi-comfortably. With temperatures dropping into the 30s just about every night, there’s not much time to figure out a plan to keep the path clear of snow and ice with these obstacles in place. But if the greenway managers know how they’ll handle a snowstorm, they aren’t telling the public.

In response to last month’s homicidal truck ramming attack, the state DOT and NYPD set up concrete cubes and jersey barriers at greenway entrances to block motorists from the path. The initial installation created hazardous pinch points, then after several days the barriers were adjusted to better accommodate walking and biking.

The barriers are supposed to be temporary, but there’s no indication that a permanent solution is imminent. And that could pose a problem during snowy weather.

The Hudson River Park Trust typically does a good job clearing snow off the path, but the vehicles are too wide to fit between the new barriers. If all that concrete stays in place over the winter, greenway managers will need some combination of new snow removal vehicles and a small army of people with shovels to prevent the path from freezing over.

Streetsblog asked the Hudson River Park Trust and state DOT, which put down the jersey barriers, how the new security measures will affect snow removal, and if a protocol is in place for keeping the greenway clear. Multiple queries to both agencies went unanswered.

The Hudson River Greenway is the most heavily traveled bikeway in New York City. The people in charge of maintaining it need to let the public know they’re prepared to keep it passable through winter.

Update: The state DOT sent us this statement:

DOT is working cooperatively with New York City and the HRPT to develop countermeasures that are respectful to the community and sensitive to the recreational users of this year-round shared use facility.

Photo copyright Shmuli Evers, used with permission.
Photo copyright Shmuli Evers, used with permission.
  • disqus_vtugpDrQ4A

    I now cynically believe that the only reason the concrete barriers were adjusted is so that the Hudson River Park Trust can continue to drive their golf carts unimpeded up and down the Greenway. The carts are hazards at any time, but now that they must slow down to navigate the narrow spaces between barriers – which they now barely fit through – they’re even more of a hazard. I have no faith that the Trust or State DOT will enact a reasonable solution before the first snowfall.

  • Elizabeth F

    The barriers as they currently stand prevent any cars from getting on the Greenway, any way at all. But maybe we need a smarter, somewhat less “hardened” approach: 8 people were killed not because a truck was able to drive on the Greenway, but because it was able to drive for over a mile, at high speed, without stopping or being interrupted.

    So… I would suggest the barriers be moved AWAY from the intersetions, and placed in the MIDDLE of segments instead. From a car’s perspective, this would cut up the Greenway into many small chunks. Plows and other service vehicles would still be able to get into each chunk and do what they need to do.

  • Joe R.

    The obvious answer is smaller snowplows. Or even put plows on the golf carts. This isn’t rocket science. They plow sidewalks and bike paths in Europe all the time.

  • JTP Choons

    Oh believe me, they just won’t plow and will say their hands are tied and that would you rather have another terrorist attack?

  • JTP Choons

    There’s no way they’ll do that because their reasoning will be that terrorists will still be able to drive half the distance and kill people.

  • Danny

    How are they a hazard if they have to slow down to navigate carefully? It sounds like textbook traffic calming to me.

  • JarekFA

    The main reason I moved to Battery Park City 5-6 years ago was so that I’d be on the Hudson River Greenway. Having a family and needing more space pushed us to Brooklyn. But if we could afford it, we’d be back in Battery Park City with the Greenway access being one of the biggest draws. These idiots don’t realize just how fucking valuable this thing is. To have a long and generally safe path for biking, jogging, blading etc . . . in this crowded ass city. It’s so valuable. But yet . . . this.

  • LN

    The greenway above 59th, where I exit daily, is wide open, except for a few random traffic cones. Anyone can and does drive anything they want up that part of the path daily.

  • qrt145

    They still operate under the mentality that the greenway is just for recreation, so keeping it working properly during the winter is only barely higher a priority than keeping the outdoor swimming pools open…

  • ItsEasyBeingGreen

    This is a problem in a lot of the protected lanes as well, and there’s no better time to solve it than now.

  • ItsEasyBeingGreen

    They even plow the East River bridge paths right here in NYC, and do an exemplary job imo.

  • JarekFA

    Right, like it’s a jogging path for track and field primarily.

    They couldn’t fathom that people could use it as an alternate for the 1 train.

  • ItsEasyBeingGreen

    I don’t really see why these are a hazard or why they would be more appropriate on the walking paths. Much if not most of the Greenway isn’t as wide as it should be, but AFAIK that isn’t the Trust’s fault.

  • AnoNYC

    The building complex across the street from me uses an ATV, some push/cart snowplows and a couple guys with shovels. It’s a very large complex and they get the job done. These are sidewalks and walking paths.

    The city should be able to purchase some push snowplows and a few dozen ATVs with plows.

  • Vooch

    bikes do not work in the rain. much less snow. video proof

  • thomas040

    They might actually FINALLY invest in smaller plowers for bike lanes and paths. And then with those in their arsenal they could easily swap the bike lanes and parking in most of the city without repercussions for street cleaning reasons.

  • Daphna

    My guess is that JTP Choons is right – now the path will not be plowed at all. Sections of the path north of 96th Street often were not plowed previously. Even from 59th to 96th was not consistently plowed. However, from 59th and south it had been consistently plowed previous winters. But there is no hope of that now with the barriers. Many protected lanes are also often not plowed. NYCHA has a wide assortment of plows of varying sizes and I have seen the Parks department using snow blowers which are plenty narrow. Lack of equipment is now the issue so much as lack of priorities among agencies and politicians.

  • jeff

    But the terrorist on 10/31 turned LEFT on the bike path. By the DOT’s reasoning, any future terrorist attack will be an exact duplicate of the last one, so no need to block off the right-hand turn onto the greenway at 59th, or any other street, sidewalk, park path etc anywhere else in NYC.

  • ItsEasyBeingGreen

    The plus side is that they never did the announced closing of the path (and detour to the ped path) for the completion of the access road for Amtrak.

  • Alberto Kumar

    Fucking Muslims and all religious fanatics. I cant believe some of you believe some guy died and flew back to heaven

  • Andrew


  • Bike riding commuter

    zero vision by the mayors office. good luck trying to even discuss this with the community affairs office. You write them and no response. Seems like the staff need to get our of their bull pen cubicles and observe the city streets.

  • Stewart Clamen

    Montreal’s had them forever

  • The reason it’s different south of 59th St is that it’s a state park south of there and a city park north of there. In winter, when I lived in New York, I sometimes used to ride up the Hudson to get to my office on Hudson St, even though it wasn’t the most direct route, because the Hudson Greenway was reliably and promptly cleared of snow. The crosstown bike paths from the Manhattan Bridge weren’t reliably cleared. However, I did nearly crash once when riding uptown in the early evening when I passed 59th St and suddenly encountered a mess of untreated ice and snow on the short section of the greenway there before it goes under the Henry Hudson Parkway.

  • Andy

    Now they did.

  • ItsEasyBeingGreen

    Heh, yup. At least so long as its cold the scenic/shared route isn’t so bad though.