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

"It’s a hastily thrown-together solution, and we deserve better from our city and state officials," said TransAlt Executive Director Paul Steely White.

The new greenway bollard situation at 40th Street. Photo: David Meyer
The new greenway bollard situation at 40th Street. 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

 

  • com63

    Isn’t this a big liability for the state if the spacing doesn’t meet AASHTO standards and people get injured?

  • AnoNYC

    It looks as though you can also pass on the outside. That concrete barrier is in the way right now, but once it’s removed both directions could use outer sides of the path.

    Correct me if I’m wrong.

  • crazytrainmatt

    For reference, a modern Fiat 500 is 5’4″ wide. A mid-size sedan is closer to 6′. The full-size pickup from last years’ attacks would be around 6’6″ wide.

    Bollards at 6′-7′ spacing would defuse most real-world attacks pretty quickly, but this security theater is a product of the same political cowardice that fuels the TSA.

    And keep these dimensions in mind when DOT proposes 11′ traffic lanes on 25 MPH side streets.

  • AnoNYC

    And I love how bollards will go up here, but we can’t even get flex posts along the parking protected lanes.

  • com63

    In theory yes, but the cobblestones are often not a great surface to ride on, especially with skinny tires. Would be much better if they could just make the clear spacing 5′.

  • walks bikes drives

    Worse, those cobblestones are downright slippery when wet. I slid on one in the middle of summer as if it were ice.

  • Menachem Goldshteyn

    Are these retractable? How will they get street sweepers through?

  • JarekFA

    It’s crazy how they go balls to the walls re: bikes but don’t do jack shit for similiarly situated cars and trucks. They do this in other countries.

    Like this a two lane road that’s a bus route. They literally narrow the road to slow cars down. Could you ever imagine them doing that here. Yah right.

    https://goo.gl/maps/4VfmiER67Co

  • AnoNYC

    NYC infrastructure is the reason why I opted for a gravel grinder with 700x30c tires and suspension seat post. Gonna throw some 32s on when these wear down, been holding up well so far.

  • ItsEasyBeingGreen

    There are a lot more saw cuts indicating more of these coming soon, south of these in the lower 40s/upper 30s and in Battery Park City.

    Doesn’t seem like there’s anything we can do about bad design in New York. Even where there’s plenty of room and even lots of capital funds for full reconstructions there’s no hope for best practice design.

  • AMH

    I would think so. I find myself in the awkward position of hoping for such a suit, but not really wanting someone to be injured in order to do so.

  • AMH

    This looks like an improvement, but only because of how truly shitty the cattle chutes were. Why do these have to be so thick? And why don’t they narrow down the huge HUGE driveway? If you force the motor vehicles to squeeze between bollards, you could space them much farther apart (basically whatever a standard wheelbase is) while making it impossible for them to turn onto the path. This design puts cyclists in danger of colliding with a post, with an oncoming cyclist, with a jogger, and still with motor vehicles making high-speed turns without yielding.

  • AMH

    Where would people park?!

  • Joe R.

    Even better, I’m wondering why there need to be driveways across the greenway at all. Why can’t all the car and bus parking be on the street side of the greenway? If you do that, you can bollard off or narrow only the entrances to the greenway. This wouldn’t affect those riding on the greenway at all. As a bonus, you can get rid of all the stupid traffic signals on the greenway.

  • Joe R.

    They also make wider tires and rims for regular road bikes, although I don’t think you can go past about 700×28 before they’re too wide for a lot of frames. I might consider eventually going that route once airless tires in that size are available. For now, I’d rather have skinny 700×20 airless tires than fatter pneumatic tires. Flats were a weekly occurrence for me until I switched to airless about 8 years ago. A nice 700×28 airless tire with high-rebound elastomer might be just the ticket for NYC. It would also be a perfect fit on rental bikes.

  • AnoNYC

    Haven’t gotten any flats since I bought my bike about a year and a half ago. Specialized Espoir Sport. I usually ride 3x a week.

    My last bike ran the Conti 4 Seasons, same size, and those held up great too.

  • KeNYC2030

    In addition, it’s my understanding that if the state insists on 48 inches, the Hudson River Park Trust is now going to get a whole new fleet of maintenance vehicles that will likely be more polluting because the electric ones in their fleet don’t come that narrow.

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