Advocates Renew Urgent Call for Riverside Park Bike Bypass Fix

The current "shared path" is too narrow, too steep and doesn't really keep pedestrians and cyclists apart — which was the whole point of diverting cyclists from the Hudson River Greenway between 72nd and 83rd streets. Photo: Streetsblog
The current "shared path" is too narrow, too steep and doesn't really keep pedestrians and cyclists apart — which was the whole point of diverting cyclists from the Hudson River Greenway between 72nd and 83rd streets. Photo: Streetsblog

Bike and pedestrian advocacy groups are renewing their push for a Hudson River Greenway fix, urging local leaders to allow cyclists to traverse the popular riverside route, instead of forcing them to take a steep, dark, and root-damaged detour — at least during the winter months when it’s even harder to navigate.

“Besides confusing and inadequate signage and markings, there is insufficient lighting, especially in these darker winter months,” the group, Streetopia UWS, wrote to Dan Garodnick, the Riverside Park Conservancy’s head honcho, this week.

Over the summer, the Parks Department hastily created a much-reviled bypass for bikers after a handful of collisions between cyclists and also between cyclists and pedestrians — sending riders up a hilly incline between 72nd and 83rd streets, which bikers say is actually more dangerous than the normal path.

In September, a trio of safe-street groups, including StreetsPac, Bike NY, and Transportation Alternatives, asked Mayor de Blasio to let cyclists use the popular waterfront greenway during the fall and winter since the off-the-beaten path is poorly lit and becomes more dangerous for far many more hours now that nightfall comes so early. But Hizzoner never responded to the groups’ letter.

So advocates sent out a second letter this week, which pointed out that the possibility for crashes between cyclists and pedestrians has been greatly reduced as the numbers of both users of the Hudson River Greenway are reduced during the colder months, according to data collected by former chairman of the Community Board 7 Parks and Environment Committee, Ken Coughlin, between November 2016 and May 2017 (see chart below). Meanwhile, while the possibility of a biker hurting themselves or a cyclist on the poorly lit detour is more likely.

“We implore you to consider alternatives to the mandatory detour, especially in these winter months with lower bicycling volumes, lower pedestrian volumes, and cold/dark/wet conditions,” said Lisa Orman, Streetopia UWS’s director.

Fewer cyclists use the path during the winter.
Fewer cyclists use the path during the winter. Graphic courtesy of Ken Coughlin. 

The group echoed StreetsPac’s request to the mayor back in September, and also proposed capping cyclists’ speeds at 10 miles per hour on the riverside route while still encouraging those bikers who prefer to go faster to use the detour. But at the very least, the path needs to be better lit and have clearer directions, said Orman.

“We need better signage/pavement markings and lights immediately, as this stretch is bound to see more crashes with the current level of service,” she wrote in the letter.

The Parks Department said it is “looking into the concerns” and is currently reviewing a comprehensive signage plan, and that the Department of Transportation is replacing the current bulbs along the detour with LED lights.

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