Crucial Greenway Bridge Reopens

Parks Department had initially said it would take more than a year to fix the Fort Washington Park Bike-Ped bridge over the Amtrak tracks. But it has reopened.

The bridge over the Amtrak tracks in upper Manhattan ‚ a crucial link — reopened after a months-long campaign by Streetsblog and local cyclists. Photo: Joe Cutrufo.
The bridge over the Amtrak tracks in upper Manhattan ‚ a crucial link — reopened after a months-long campaign by Streetsblog and local cyclists. Photo: Joe Cutrufo.

Streetsblog gets action!

The Parks Department has reopened the Fort Washington Park bike and pedestrian path — a crucial span connecting upper Manhattan to the rest of the West Side Greenway — ahead of schedule after a months-long campaign by Streetsblog and local cyclists.

The bridge reopened Tuesday — though the Parks Department had originally told Streetsblog’s David Meyer that it had no timeline for reconstruction. At that time, it appeared the bridge would be closed for a year or more. After that story came out, the Parks Department committed to fixing the problem on a tighter timeframe.

Here's how the bridge looked when it was abruptly closed in August. Photo: Liz Marcello
Here’s how the bridge looked when it was abruptly closed in August. Photo: Liz Marcello

Of course, the reopening was not without some controversy, as some cyclists objected to a sign demanding riders dismount.

“What’s this about?” asked TransAlt’s Joe Cutrufo.

A Parks Department official tweeted back that the dismount rule is necessary as “a safety measure” because “the width of the bridge has been reduced” as repairs continue.

“So it’s no longer a bike path then,” sniped cyclist BrianVan.

The dismount rule is frustrating, but the restored link is crucial to hundreds of cyclists who need the bridge on their commutes from upper Manhattan to lower sections of the continent’s busiest greenway. Without the bridge, cyclists were given a convoluted and hilly detour.

 

  • Joseph R.

    The bridge looks wider than most bike paths that are being built or already exist. With that logic, cyclists should also be dismounting on the new 26th and 29th street bike lanes as well as the entire length of the Hudson River greenway, every painted lane, and the list goes on…

  • Joseph Cutrufo

    It’s twice as wide as the gaps between NYSDOT’s bollards along the Hudson River Greenway.

  • Don’t give em any ideas, now

  • ItsEasyBeingGreen

    It’s probably because it’s mixed between cycling and walking, but there are several sections of this same greenway that are just as narrow between this bridge and Dyckman Street.

  • iSkyscraper

    Great, so now cyclists can more easily get uptown again. Only once they get there, good luck going east on Dyckman St since DOT removed the protected bike lanes under pressure from extremely misguided local politicians, and there are now no bike lanes at all on Dyckman east of Broadway. No unprotected lanes, no nothing. Completely unprecedented.

  • Elizabeth F

    I’m sick and tired of these “cyclist dismount” signs. Why not a “cyclist speed limit 5mph” sign. This is not the amateur hour, we can ride slowly if needed.

  • Elizabeth F

    BTW… the detour didn’t have to be as bad as everyone made it out to be. From GWB… Haven Ave to 168 St. Then 1 block on Fort Washington Ave, and down to Riverside Drive on 165 St. From there, take the sidewalk to 155 St Bridge.

    I know what you’re going to say about riding on the sidewalk. But this is a WIDE sidewalk with low ped traffic. And the powers that be COULD HAVE designated it as an acceptable bicycle detour; just as they detoured bikes onto the walking path last year with construction on the Hudson River Greenway north of 59 St.

  • Joe R.

    A person walking a bike is about twice the width of the same person riding one. That’s why these “cyclist dismount” signs, ostensibly because the space is too narrow, defy logic. A few warning signs stating “NARROW BRIDGE-REDUCE SPEED” are all that is needed here.

  • Joe R.

    I’m a big proponent of allowing cycling on any wide sidewalk with low pedestrian traffic. When protected bike lanes aren’t feasible the sidewalk could serve a similar function for those too timid to ride in the street. These types of cyclists will generally be riding fairly slowly as well, so they won’t be a hazard to pedestrians. Faster cyclists in general will avoid sidewalks as it’s unsafe and uncomfortable to ride fast on them.

  • Jacob

    It’s a cover your ass measure, so they don’t get sued. Since they’ve systematically neglected bicycle infrastructure and safety for decades, it’s highly unlikely that the Parks Department will station police there to issue tickets in the name of safety.

  • redbike

    Oh, you mean something like this https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/63ebf0cfd0bb1ec1ef780916e3fc4824b36ba6f418f5b8b0ad1b92024f86c008.jpg
    Snapped in Ft Washington Park adjacent to the tennis courts, perhaps 1,000 feet south of the Amtrak bridge. If signs are in short supply, relocate this one.

  • Elizabeth F

    Yes, signs like that. I once had an irate pedestrian yell at me because she I was going “too fast” and she’d seen that sign. But I’m convinced it applies to motor vehicles, not bicycles. Why?

    1. It’s in a place that motor vehicles use regularly. There are no such signs on the Greenway in areas NOT frequented by motor vehicles, even places with tons of pedestrians.

    2. We know they’re wont to do “dismount” signs if they think there’s any problem, real or imagined.

    3. If this sign applied to bikes, I would have heard about somebody getting a ticket by now. NYPD would stake out there giving out tickets like candy. In a daring maneuver, they’d even try ticketing roller bladers.

  • Elizabeth F

    I’m convinced that most cyclists (except those who live in Inwood), who actually need to get somewhere, have little or no interest in Dyckman St. I used to go through Inwood all the time, and not once did I ever take Dyckman St.

  • Elizabeth F

    That’s what we all thought about the “dismount” signs on the Queensboro bridge.

  • qrt145

    Remember that the Parks Department still hasn’t realized that bikes are a mode of transportation.

  • Dimitris Koutoumbas

    My thinking is BDB wanted a quick fix for closing the gaps for the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway and Dyckman St. bike path is what DOT offered him.

  • Streetfilms (928 videos!)

    Thank you everyone who made a big stink about it. Fantastic news.

  • DoctorMemory

    The entrance to the east side / Highbridge Park greenway is at the intersection of Dyckman and 10th Ave.

    Of course, the eastside path gets a lot less traffic than the west side greenway, but it’s a chicken and egg problem: fewer people use it because the only approach to it is now and once again bet-your-life dangerous. Dyckman street is now effectively a no-fly zone for cyclists with 3-5 double-parked cars per block, and even if you’re willing to go a mile out of your way up Seaman and over 204th, the 10th Ave approach frankly isn’t much better.

    But it’s okay, since Adriano Espaillat’s representative assured me at a CB12 meeting that Dominican residents of Inwood east of Broadway don’t bicycle, and apparently they’re going to keep it as dangerous as possible to make sure it stays that way.

  • Chriscc63

    “YaY” now I have no excuse not to bike to work again !

  • Chriscc63

    Sorry I disagree, it was; Annoying, putting you on city streets is dangerous and inconvenient work around, and that makes it “bad”. The stink was raised and now its reopend. If we did not raise our voices, then it would still be closed and who knows how long it would take, years maybe. so this was a VERY necessary action and many thanks to Streets Blog for this coverage.
    BTW Eliz, do you work for DOT as a spy sent to quell the masses? How very Trumpian of you to minimize the success of the people for a better life!

  • redbike

    the eastside path gets a lot less traffic than the west side

    Correct to point to Dyckman St as one of the chicken-and-egg culprits. More profound is the lack of continuity on Manhattan’s east side which ties in directly with the importance of the Amtrak bridge on the west side.

  • Elizabeth F

    You missed the point. Of course the bridge being available is Plan A, and I 100% believe that our raising a stink led to a speedy re-opening.

    HOWEVER, nobody raised a stink about the lack of thought they put into detours. The detour I described above, while not as good as the bridge, is better than any of the other detours mentioned IMHO. I even take it when the bridge is open, to avoid getting mugged around 170 St at night. But nobody raised a stink, and nobody told DOT what the detour should be, so they left us with an “official” detour that was much more dangerous than it needed to be. Meanwhile, by not making the sidewalk detour official, they left those of us who use it vulnerable to police harassment.

  • Elizabeth F

    You miss the point. Dyckman St. is a vital link for (a) people coming/going to points in Inwood, and (b) people who want to circumnavigate Manhattan by bicycle.

    For the rest of use, Dyckman St. is pretty useless. Either you come North on the West Side and use Seaman St. to the Broadway Bridge; or you come North on the East Side and use 10th Ave to get to the Broadway or Fordham Ave Bridge. In none of these cases would one actually want to use Dyckman St. to get anywhere.

    As for (a), I feel bad for the Dominican residents of Inwood who can’t bike safely around their own neighborhood because of their NIMBY neighbors west of Broadway. Time to join the CB. As for (b), this is a recreational issue, not transportation. I question how much recreation should be prioritized when spending transportation $; especially given the serious transportation issues still facing the NYC bike network.

    But I do agree, Inwood with Dyckman St. bike lanes is better than without.

  • DoctorMemory

    I have to be very very clear here: the opposition to the bike lanes, 100% did not come from anyone west of B’Way. It was led by Dominican business/property owners from the east side and the personal intervention of Rep Espaillat and Gale Brewer acting on his behalf.

  • iSkyscraper

    The Dyckman bike path was in the works for many, many years — long before BDB. Nothing to do with him. Inwood has a limited street grid and Dyckman was simply the logical choice. It works elsewhere in the city — everyone just forgot that city laws don’t apply in Inwood, especially along Dyckman (see: bars, La Marina, litter, sidewalk blocking, noise, anything to do with C of O, anything do to with zoning, etc.).

  • iSkyscraper

    What a weirdly defensive position to take. If you lived in eastern Inwood, either the existing 6-story buildings along streets like Post or Sherman, or in the newly rezoned areas near 10th Ave, and you wanted to get to the West Side Greenway to commute, you would use whatever east-west route that was available to you, very likely Dyckman Street.

    And of course it’s a chicken and egg thing — Inwood has almost no bike lanes as it is, so few people bike very often to get around. 218th St lost its bike lanes (didn’t meet standards, now are just sharrows), Seaman lost one of its bike lanes while the other is effectively a double-parking lane, Sherman has recent bike lanes but those are even more of a double-parking zone — Dyckman was the only actual protected lane we had, whatever your purpose.

    Finally, the precedent here is horrific. If the city installs a bike lane, you don’t then remove it (and waste taxpayer money in doing so) because a few politically-connected storefronts get upset. (You are WAY off in terms of who opposed this.). Why did the city fight off the challenge to the Prospect Park West bike lane but Inwood gets abandoned because someone calls in a favor? Ridiculous. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/d385bb0d43ee51637d891a890213491595e7809b1acefd65c7d32e4f84684fa2.jpg

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