NYS DOT and NYPD Security Overkill Could Destroy the Hudson River Greenway

The space between anti-vehicle bollards must be wide enough to accommodate greenway crowds, but the state DOT and NYPD appear to be making other plans without public input.

Will the replacements for the obtrusive barriers installed on the greenway last fall leave sufficient room for cyclists and runners to pass safely? Photo copyright Shmuli Evers, used with permission.
Will the replacements for the obtrusive barriers installed on the greenway last fall leave sufficient room for cyclists and runners to pass safely? Photo copyright Shmuli Evers, used with permission.

The New York State DOT and NYPD could be preparing to mess up the Hudson River Greenway for a long time to come.

After last October’s vehicular attack, NYS DOT installed jersey barriers at 31 locations where motor vehicles cross the greenway. At 26 pedestrian-only crossings, NYPD put down concrete “sugar cubes.”

The greenway overflows with people during the summer months, and the heavy-duty barriers installed by NYS DOT and NYPD will only exacerbate the crowding problem. The barriers are meant to be temporary, but as the weather warms and greenway usage climbs, they’re still there.

In March, NYS DOT indicated it plans to replace the barriers with less obtrusive security measures, with construction set to start this summer and wrap sometime in 2019.

The exact design of the new barriers remains under wraps. But it seems NYS DOT, at the behest of NYPD and the federal Department of Homeland Security, may install bollards with insufficient room between them to accommodate greenway traffic.

In a letter to Governor Cuomo, Transportation Alternatives Executive Director Paul White called on NYS DOT to ensure that the bollards’ placement leaves enough room for cyclists and joggers to pass. Standards for shared-use paths set by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials recommend at least five feet between bollards, but sources who are keeping tabs on the project say NYS DOT plans to leave a clearance of only four feet.

“We are concerned that any long-term plan for hardening the greenway will endanger bicyclists and pedestrians if the permanent barricades or bollards used are spaced too closely together,” White wrote. “We believe there is a way to insulate the path’s users from the risk posed by motorized vehicles without increasing the risk of injury to greenway users, or ensuing litigation against the greenway’s designers.”

The existing barriers “created a crude, short-term solution” and should be replaced with “immediate short-term fixes” before summer, said White.

The TransAlt letter was also sent to Mayor de Blasio, NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill, NYS DOT and DHS officials, and other local electeds.

The process for permanent greenway security measures has been shrouded in secrecy, with no opportunities for public input. “The people who are using the greenway have not had a seat at the table,” TransAlt spokesperson Joe Cutrufo told Streetsblog.

Neither NYPD nor NYS DOT responded to our inquiries about the project. We’ll follow this story as it develops.

  • redbike

    Anticipating the recurring annual surprise Fleet Week closure of the Hudson River pedpath:

    The Hudson River pedpath is the I-95 of bike routes. Closing it to people riding bicycles showcases the priorities of various NY State and NYC agencies and departments.

    If a bicycle path is obstructed, people riding bicycles aren’t required to use it. With a modicum of good will (and a budget of approximately zero), there are workarounds. What’s worked well in past years:

    Northbound:

    • Exit the pedpath at 41st or 42nd St.
    • Cross to the northbound side of 12th Av.
    • Continue north using 12th Av’s eastern (right) lane.
    • At 55th St, cross 12th Av and resume riding on the pedpath.

    Southbound:

    • Exit the pedpath where you encounter “Dismount” signs, or where crowds obstruct the path.
    • Continue south using 12th Av’s western (right) lane.
    • At 43rd St, resume riding on the pedpath.

    Learned in past years: even when it’s possible to ride on the pedpath (e.g.: late-night hours), be specially attentive to military personnel who are oblivious to bicycles. Considering their day jobs, I should hope they’d be more aware of what’s going on around them, but they’re not. It’s our responsibility.

  • NYCyclist

    Security theater at its worst. This past weekend, I counted 6 places where the greenway is not properly protected (most near construction sites). If the powers that be really cared about safety, they’d have barriers everywhere along the route. But of course the only safety they care about is safety from lawsuits and election loss.

  • Omykiss

    They should just fill in the path with concrete, widen the west side highway, throw several miles of scaffolding over the whole f*%&^ing thing, then charge people $75 to use it. F$&% it.
    -joni mitchell

  • MtotheI

    Have you seen the spacing of the greenway bollards outside Goldman Sach’s at Murray Street and Vesey Street? So narrow, uncomfortable and substandard. What if you’re riding with panniers on both sides? It’s not rocket science. Put a bollard on the double yellow and bollards on the white lines on the outside. Done and done!

  • Reader

    Or a wide cargo bike. It’s very hard to pass through on a kid-carrying bike. We need designers and people in positions of power to think about more than just sport bikes.

  • ItsEasyBeingGreen

    NYS DOT has never followed best practice design for cycling on this path. I don’t know what’s going to get them to start now.

  • walks bikes drives

    When I pass through it on my road bike, I still feel it way too uncomfortably close.

  • Vooch

    one lane of 12th avenue should be converted to protected bike lane with jerry barriers

  • Joseph Cutrufo

    The alignment by Goldman Sachs is the best example (it’s referenced in the letter) of what they’re considering for every single crossing between 59th and Chambers.

  • jeff

    I called NYS DOT and spoke to the person who’s supposedly responsible for this.

    They have a formula: Terrorist Attack = Put Down Some Concrete Things. Any thinking beyond that is too much to ask from our government. It was clear from speaking to the guy in Albany that he had never even seen the greenway. I explained that the barriers were taking up 1/3 of the width of the path and mentioned the gaps where cars/trucks could easily drive on large swaths of the path. I asked whether they thought ISIS was targeting that path (you can imagine Jihadi militants vowing to bring down the evil Hudson River Greenway infidels) or if it was random, and if it was random, why aren’t they blocking off every sidewalk and park in NYC with concrete?

    He didn’t care to think about any of this – they had already put down some concrete things so his job was done.

  • AMH

    Even intersections where the Greenway already has bollards have the jersey barriers! I’ve scraped my pedals several times when I’ve miscalculated, but fortunately haven’t wiped out yet. It’s impossible to just ride normally anymore.

  • com63

    Agreed. If they do that and have 4ft clear between bollards, that is enough to comfortably pass through. The ones at Goldman Sach’s are less than 4ft clear.

  • Omykiss

    This segment of has been freshly paved and was directed by park officers today that it is now open.

  • Nathan C Rhodes

    My favorite are the Jersey barriers on 7th Ave on the way to Central Park. There are so many people that the barriers are invisible, and I have seen people walk right into them. It’s honestly pathetic. The last thing that will ever occur to these people is to get rid of on-street parking and get cars off of this–lest we forget–island.

  • Nathan C Rhodes

    How about the bike entry onto the Williamsburg Bridge? Barely wide enough for one cyclist to fit through.

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