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Blame State DOT for the Slushy Mess on the West Side Greenway on Friday Morning

2:31 PM EST on November 16, 2018

The West Side greenway, shot from the Intrepid bridge at 46th Street. Photo: Danny Pearlstein

Plow shall not pass.

The state's overbuilt response to last year's vehicular terrorist attack on the West Side Greenway has made the nation's most popular bike path nearly impassible during snow storms like Thursday's, greenway users report.

"I saw about a dozen Citi Bikers teetering down the greenway through a significant amount of slush," emailed Upper Manhattanite Danny Pearlstein, who sent in the above photo.

Over the summer, state DOT installed security bollards at places below 59th Street where drivers could presumably access the bike and pedestrian path. That section of the greenway is managed by the Hudson River Park Trust.

The goal was to prevent vehicular attacks like the one last October, which left eight people dead and more than a dozen injured. But the state's solution — bollards that leave overly narrow passageways, were installed with zero public input and do not meet national standards — created bottlenecks, which have proven dangerous during the summer, when the bike path is at its busiest.

Hard to imagine a snow plow getting through these. Photo: Danny Pearlstein
Hard to imagine a snow plow getting through these. Photo: Danny Pearlstein

The bollards appear to have wintry downsides. Pictures taken after yesterday's snowpocalyse show that the bollards likely block the Hudson River Park Trust from using heavy-duty plows for snow removal. On Friday morning, areas of the greenway near the bollards appeared to have been shoveled by hand, if at all.

One greenway user, who asked to remain anonymous, said:

I've been using the greenway since the day it opened — literally — and the HRPT section has always been great, and way better than the NYC Parks managed section which starts north of 60th Street. Before the bollards, HRPT used a big front loader to clear the greenway and they kept it clear from Battery to 60th through big snow storms. Now the front loader cant get into the bollard sections and it shows.

The pathway may be run by a state agency, but city officials don't even pretend to object when federal or state authorities impose additional security measures on public rights of way. Late last month, the NYPD placed large cement blocks in front of the Manhattan entrance to the Brooklyn Bridge footpath, citing unspecified terror threats. The Department of Transportation did not object publicly.

Many cycling advocates have pointed out that security measures along pedestrian and cycling paths typically inconvenience only the pedestrians and the cyclists — not the drivers from whom they are being protected.

"The people who should be inconvenienced are the drivers, who pose the risk, rather than the pedestrians and cyclists who don't," writer Nicole Gelinas said in a forum at the Vision Zero Cities Conference earlier this month. "New York has chosen to plunk down large concrete bollards rather than thinking about the areas they are designed to protect. ... Bollards should be in streets, not sidewalks. And NYPD should not be the sole arbiter. Urban planners should have a role."

Streetsblog reached out to the Hudson River Park Trust for comment, but did not hear back before publication.

— with Gersh Kuntzman

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