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

The agency's anti-terror bollards appear to have made the greenway un-plowable.

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

  • Daphna

    I though the reason those bollards are so huge is that they are hydraulic. They need to be lowered so a plow can go through. Plowing that bike path needs to be accommodated. Any design for anti-terrorism needs to account for letting plows through. All streets that were plowed are fine today, but without being plowed, it is a slushy mess that is unbikeable.

    This is a shame because most of this path before was adequately plowed, especially south of 59th street. Now if it is now plowed, that will put that path out of commission for many days or weeks after each snow storm until warm weather is enough to melt the snow.

  • Joe R.

    If the city doesn’t do it, it can be crowdsourced. Have people bring shovels and others do the shoveling. Yes, I know it stinks doing what the city should be doing, but if the alternative is weeks of an impassable path why not?

  • HamTech87

    New York State can’t afford to protect people properly. We’re a poor place, compared to these places:

    Zambia: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YavZhDC7KBQ
    New Zealand: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6hD6csiXong
    Italy: (scroll down to see video at bottom) http://www.directindustry.com/prod/quiko-italy/product-66960-547225.html
    Taiwan: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ePMRJDD8-GA

  • KeNYC2030

    In terms of lowering, they claimed they didn’t have the depth to employ that technology (although I’m not sure whether they were talking about depth of knowledge or physical depth). .

  • Komanoff

    Now THAT’s a lede. Fabulous.

    And great “intrepid” pic’s by Riders Alliance stalwart Danny Pearlstein. Intersectionality!

  • Joe R.

    Loads of machines which can plow that path:

    https://www.homedepot.com/s/snow%2520blower?NCNI-5

    I don’t know why the city doesn’t own some instead of paying people $15 an hour to shovel.

  • AnoNYC

    What about removal bollards. Key accessible.

  • Bollards that seem to be just like the ones in the picture are at the Brooklyn entry to the Williamsburg Bridge bike path, and they are retractable.

  • Daphna

    Can I get a tax credit for the time I spend shoveling the bike path? It would make sense that if one performs a service that his/her taxes should be paying for, that a tax credit is due.

  • Joe R.

    The city should really offer something like that if it’s unwilling to perform basic services it’s technically required to do.

  • kevd

    and the Manhattan bridge
    lately one has been down – but even when they’re both up it doesn’t impeded cyclists much going to and from bridge path.

  • Joe R.

    I mentioned this the last time someone bought up key removable bollards but it bears repeating. Workers in this city (both public and private) seem to be either extremely lazy or too ready to assume something is another person’s responsibility. I can visualize the bollards being removed for plowing, then left on the side of the path until they get stolen or otherwise disappear. Then I can see another terrorist attack with people scratching their heads asking why weren’t the bollards put back? The only thing which can potentially work here is retractable bollards. However, even those I have my doubts about. The city will either get screwed with ones that don’t work right, or they won’t be maintained and they’ll break anyway. Sadly, a lot of things which work fine elsewhere can’t work in NYC because of this “people problem”.

  • Fool

    Scabs

  • AMH

    “Bollards should be in streets, not sidewalks.”

    Exactly. Someone tell me why the city left large amounts of sidewalk accessible to drivers in Times Square? The bollards aren’t even close to the street.

    We should be confining motor vehicles to narrow channels rather than forcing cyclists and joggers to suck it in.

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