Fleet Week Starts Wednesday, and Who Knows How Much It Will Disrupt the Hudson River Greenway

In recent years, the city has forced people to walk their bikes for several blocks on the greenway.

In recent years, Hudson River Greenway users have been forced to dismount their bikes during Fleet Week. But the city should designate a lane of the West Side Highway just for cyclists like it did back in 2003.
In recent years, Hudson River Greenway users have been forced to dismount their bikes during Fleet Week. But the city should designate a lane of the West Side Highway just for cyclists like it did back in 2003.

Starting Wednesday, American military ships will be stationed along the West Side waterfront for NYC Fleet Week. Fleet Week is the biggest disruption to the Hudson River Greenway each year, but the city seldom manages to set up an efficient detour or even warn cyclists in advance about changes to the bike path.

This year seems to be no exception. The Parks Department has posted no information about any impending greenway disruptions.

In 2016, the Parks Department made cyclists dismount for the entire 10-block stretch between 46th Street and 56th Street. Last year, the dismount zone ran from 46th Street to 48th Street. Motor vehicle lanes on the West Side Highway, meanwhile, were unaffected.

Once upon a time, the city managed to stage Fleet Week without severing its busiest bikeway. In 2003, NYPD gave cyclists a lane of the West Side Highway.

Streetsblog contacted the Parks Department for information about what greenway users can expect tomorrow, but did not receive a reply. There are no notices posted on the agency’s website or social media accounts.

We’ll post any updates we receive from the city.

  • redbike

    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:


    • 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.


    • Exit the pedpath where you encounter “Dismount” signs, or where the path is obstructed.
    • 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.

  • 8FH

    I do not recommend taking 12th Ave. I’ve done this, and I was nearly forced off the road (intentionally) by a NYPD tipper truck carrying those metal pedestrian barriers. As a multi-lane, 35 MPH street with traffic lights, 12th should be safe for cyclists, but it isn’t. Drivers routinely drive at 50 MPH or faster there and don’t expect cyclists, because they see the road as an extension of the Westside Highway.

  • redbike

    Generally, I agree with you about 12th Av, more so if you’re riding by yourself. But specific to Fleet Week, in years past, what I’m suggesting worked. Consider the typical number of people riding bikes on the West Side pedpath: I was following many other bicyclists; many others followed me.

  • Maggie

    Can DOT shift one of the eight car lanes on 12th Avenue to carrying the Hudson River Greenway’s bike traffic for Fleet Week as long as Gale Brewer lends her support? I don’t exactly follow why this would be a NYPD decision, nor why in 2018, DOT would opt to cut capacity of the city’s busiest bike path to 0% instead of making a temporary four-lane to three adjustment for the southbound car lanes.

    Seems like a no-brainer to me and entirely consistent with Mayor de Blasio’s climate goals and branding, but maybe I’m missing something.

  • JK

    Having a mayor who was an actual urbanist and controlled his own police department would be helpful. No need for this eternal Fleet Week incompetence. Best would be giving cyclists SB lane of 12th Ave/West Side Highway from 57th to 34th Street. (42nd OK) Instead, what’s happening here is another decision to screw path users to accommodate suburban SOV and app hire drivers. There are no commercial vehicles or buses allowed on West Side Hwy.

  • Adrian Horczak

    12 Ave south of 57th St is a truck route

  • AMH

    I sent Commissioner Silver a letter. Thanks for the reminder about 2003–it’s easy to forget that things weren’t always this way.

  • running_bond

    Fleet Week is so tiny now compared to say 2003, it’s crazy that they would have to interrupt the Greenway. Back then you had three guided missile cruisers, three frigates, an amphibious transport ship, two dock landing ships and a research vessel from the USN, and a bunch of those were in Manhattan. Now it’s just a single amphibious transport ship and a teeny weeny Canadian coastal patrol ship and a coast guard cutter in Manhattan, with a destroyer and small frigate and smaller ships scattered around elsewhere. This is simply not as large an event as in the past.

  • MatthewEH

    I think it would have to end at 42nd or 41st. Too many problems with access to the ferry terminal otherwise.

  • ItsEasyBeingGreen

    Today at least this was open as of 5:30, but they had the dismount signs laying on the side ready to go. Without an actual plan, who knows what’s going to happen tomorrow?

    The fact that cycling always comes last and is never accommodated for construction/events/etc means you can never guarantee a safe and low stress ride in NYC. This is a deterrent to the goal the City once espoused of increasing cycling.


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