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Bicycle Infrastructure

State DOT’s New Security Bollards Squeeze the Hudson River Greenway

3:17 PM EDT on July 2, 2018

The state DOT thinks you have enough room on the Hudson River Greenway. File photo: David Meyer

We've seen the future of the Hudson River Greenway, and unless the New York State DOT changes course, it's not pretty.

Toward the end of last week, the state DOT put down new security bollards on the greenway at 40th Street and 41st Street. As predicted, they're just 48 inches apart -- only enough room for one cyclist at a time to squeeze through. At peak hours, that's certain to jam up the busiest bikeway in the nation and create dangerous conflicts.

The bollards replaced a set of Jersey barriers state DOT installed immediately after the October truck attack on the greenway. At 31 locations below 59th Street, the agency created 20-foot cattle chutes out of these barriers, constricting a path that desperately needs to be widened. These bollards are presumably the first set of dozens that state DOT plans to implement.

While the bollards don't pinch bike traffic as much as the concrete chutes, they still cause problems. Last Friday, it was a tight squeeze, with cyclists frequently choosing to overtake someone by going through a bollard gap in the "oncoming" lane of the bike path. And that was in 90-degree heat, not peak greenway conditions.

Meanwhile, nothing has been done to slow drivers crossing the several points where driveways interrupt the bike path -- a vulnerability that the bollards simply don't address.

In May, Transportation Alternatives sent a letter to Governor Cuomo asking that the bollards be at least five feet apart, in compliance with American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials standards for shared-use paths. None of the officials responsible for the bollard design contacted TransAlt in response.

The busiest trunk line in the entire New York City bike network is getting redesigned without any discernible public outreach to bike infrastructure experts.

"It’s possible to protect greenway users from all manner of vehicle incursions while at the same time not creating a new safety hazard," said TransAlt Executive Director Paul Steely White. "It’s not a matter of if people will be injured on these, it’s when. It’s a hastily thrown-together solution, and we deserve better from our city and state officials."

Photo: David Meyer
Photo: David Meyer

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