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BIKING ADVOCATES WANT ACCESS TO HUDSON RIVER GREENWAY PATH IN WINTER

riverside-bicyclist
Photo by Rob Zand.

The city is planning to create a new bike path in Riverside Park so that bicyclists don’t use the crowded Esplanade path next to the Hudson River from 72nd to 83rd Street.

The Esplanade can get crowded and dangerous at times when runners, walkers and cyclists are all trying to use the relatively narrow path. That’s why the city designed a new bike path that would make cyclists detour through Riverside Park away from the esplanade, which would become pedestrian-only. Community Board 7’s parks committee approved the idea by a 4-1 vote a few weeks ago.

Bicycling advocates agree that “changes are necessary” because of the conflicts, but have expressed some concerns about this plan — one issue is that the new path may be too steep. Now they’re pushing for the esplanade to be open to bicyclists at least for the winter.

A petition introduced by Transportation Alternatives asks that cyclists be allowed to ride on the Greenway during the winter, which would make commuting easier.

“The nation’s most used cycle path, the Hudson River Greenway, could be facing permanent changes on the Upper West Side.  Given the growth in both pedestrian and cycling use on the path in recent years, changes are necessary to avoid conflicts — particularly during seasons where usage peaks. During winter months, however, the current path should remain accessible for the thousands of commuting cyclists who are served by the current route. Will you support making this detour seasonal?”

As of Monday night, the petition had 1,554 signatures.

The full Community Board 7 will review the new path on Tuesday at its monthly full board meeting. The meeting starts at 6:30 in the 2nd floor Conference Room at Mount Sinai West Hospital (formerly Roosevelt Hospital) at 1000 Tenth Avenue (59th Street). It’s not clear when this specific issue will be heard.

NEWS, OUTDOORS | 53 comments | permalink
    1. RK says:

      I’m not sure about all winter, since nice days do bring people out.

      Especially with some of these crazy warm winter days that DeBlasio caused with his harebrained libral policies. Giuliani wouldn’t have tolerated such deviant winter weather, let me tell you.

      Anyhow, I’d also argue cyclists (especially commuters) would pedal faster, both to keep warm and to get to their destination quicker. I know I did when I commuted by bike on the greenway at my last job downtown.

      But when it’s snowy or icy out, the bicycle hills could be problematic.

      • Robert Goodman says:

        RK:

        When it is snowy or icy a sane person would not take a bike when there is public transportation available.

        • PD says:

          Not all bikers are sane

        • Siddhartha says:

          LOL are you kidding? There are many year-round cyclists who brave all kinds of weather. Just because you wouldn’t, doesn’t mean no one will.

          • Robert Goodman says:

            Sidd:

            Just because there are bikers who would do it doesn’t mean it’s the sensible thing to do. Besides why enable people’s addictions by making special provisions. In any case real bikers do it up and down.

            • Siddhartha says:

              I’m confused as to whether you’re trying to be funny. Addiction? You mean people using a healthy form of transportation to commute to work?

    2. Christine E says:

      The reason for the alternate bicycle path is that the esplanade is that section of the park is too crowded and dangerous. Neither the petition nor the article indicate why it is less crowded or less dangerous seasonally. So, no, I would not be in favor of a seasonal detour. The bikes should use the bike path, period. If however, the cyclists are requesting to use the esplanade until the new bike path is complete, then by all means go ahead. I really don’t see why this is even open for discussion. If the bicyclists don’t like the bike path, work to modify it, don’t continue to endanger pedestrians, ever, including seasonally.

      • Siddhartha says:

        “Neither the petition nor the article indicate why it is less crowded or less dangerous seasonally.”

        There are markedly fewer people in the winter. It’s almost deserted.

      • joe says:

        I think it is fairly obvious why from December through March the esplanade is less crowded. You may like to take a nice stroll in 20 degree weather with the icy Hudson winds whipping at your nose, but most people don’t. The Boat Basin Cafe is closed, there are no more little league and soccer games, its pretty dead, actually. I know this because I am one of the crazies who like a cold morning jog during those frigid periods, and if some cyclists — and we are not talking about many, but just the foolish diehards — want to brave it through the winter, god bless. I should add that the esplanade will get plowed — the upper path will not.

        • Christine E says:

          Why would the upper path not get plowed? Why is the cycling community setting the upper path up for failure (too steep, no lights, no plowing…). The upper path is a custom path built just for bikers for which all of us are paying and which will prevent bikers from running over pedestrians, thereby improving safety for all on foot or wheel or otherwise. Please bikers work with DOT to make your dream path come true, just as the skateboard riders did regarding their Riverside skate park redesign. And stop whinging about the esplanade.

          • RK says:

            The upper path is not a custom path for bikers, it’s a repurposed pedestrian path that meanders a bit. And it does need lights and plowing to be useful as a bike path.

    3. Svea says:

      Am tired of Transportation Alternatives attitude that bikes should be number one. Pededtrians should always come first. Kamikaze bicyclists who refuse to follow signs and slow down on the esplanade have made it very dangerous. You can’t even sit on the park benches without being worried that your toes will be run over. Pedestrians enjoy the esplanade year-round. Bicyclists dont’t deserve access to it at any time because they have not behaved responsibly.

    4. dannyboy says:

      Similar to School Rezoning, another look into how influence groups have formed to get “theirs”.

      There’s lobbying going on and it ain’t pretty.

    5. a says:

      Shouldn’t be seasonal. Should be year round with a redesign so the pedestrian and cycling lanes are clearer and separated. Right now the issue isn’t space, it’s confusion.

      • DenMark says:

        My concern, as a cyclist, is that the alternative path seems to be much more shaded (so more ice, snow, etc. in the winter). Not safe. The talk of kamikaze cyclist is overblown. No one is trying to kill you with their bicycle. Shared path, shared responsbility (granted, there are bad actors on both sides).

        • dannyboy says:

          “Shared path, shared responsibility”

          I think we’re past that point.

          Pedestrians want a divorce.

          separate paths

    6. Old Judge says:

      Perhaps a reasonable compromise would severely limit the times (in winter) that the Greenway path could be used by bikes to the commuting hours only. I’d suggest 7-9am and 4:30-6pm.

      • JG says:

        Agreed. This path has been the route for my daily commute for more than a year. During those hours commuter cyclists far outnumber pedestrians. I’ve never once seen a problem during any season. If a re-routing is needed, it is only during busy summer weekends when pedestrian activity spikes.

    7. Margaret says:

      Great! Looking forward to a thoughtful and fact-based discussion tonight.

      Is there any data to support the fear that collisions are common? Last time this was stated without any backup. In 2015, across the 2-0 there were 10 bike-pedestrian crashes and 1943 car crashes. Do we know how many of those ten collisions were in this park?

      Cyclists are your neighbors, customers, kids, and friends. Please don’t demonize us! Given crime fears, no one wants to travel an isolated stretch of path in the dark.

      • Steven says:

        10 bike-pedestrian crashes that were reported, anyway. I would imagine that many go unreported if they don’t result in serious injury.

      • Christine E says:

        So advocate for better lighting! Not for the “right” to run over pedestrians. I have never been able to walk safely on or enjoy that path. I and my family have been nearly run over many times by the bikes. The path is too narrow and the bikes go at excessive speeds.

        • Margaret says:

          Please, let me ask you to re-read what I said.

          I did not ask for the right to run over pedestrians. I would never do that. Nobody would. Please clarify what you see in my comment as a request to run over pedestrians.

          I’m asking for the right to ride a bike through the cold winter months on a very popular bike path.

      • dannyboy says:

        Margaret,

        TA is making damned sure that this week, no such thing happens again! From their Google Group:

        “Last week, Community Board 7’s Parks & Environment committee voted 4-1 to approve the plan, with the request that the year-round requirement be reevaluated after two years (article here). A big reason why the vote was so lopsided is that those who said they had been hit — or knew someone who had been hit — by a bicyclist somewhere on the Greenway far outnumbered cyclists at the meeting.”

        this week we’ll overwhelm the Meeting with cyclists! Bury those “those who said they had been hit — or knew someone who had been hit — by a bicyclist somewhere on the Greenway”

        nice

    8. JaneJ106 says:

      The cyclists may have access when they can go slow enough to be safe.

      BTW, it would be great if dog enthusiasts also allowed joggers and cyclists through easily during no-leash hours. The dogs are dangerous (tripping, biting, and running in front of cyclists) when the owners let them go wherever they want during no-leash time, like it’s a huge dog park. It’s a people park first. The dogs are cute. The owners could be a little more helpful to the people passing through.

    9. Rob says:

      This shouldn’t be approved because the path along the Hudson was always a pedestrian favorite until the bikers took over and ruined it. Bad enough senior citizens and others can’t walk on the upper level of RSD because of the bikes, to also give them access to the walkway by the river would be insane (and note it is a walkway, not a bicycle path).

      • Siddhartha says:

        Dude, cyclists have been cycling on this path for 25+ years.

      • Siddhartha says:

        And, incorrect again, the DOT calls it the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway — considered a protected bicycle route.

        • dannyboy says:

          Siddhartha,

          How is it OK for bikers to carve out a separate path from drivers, but not pedestrians from bikers?

          • Siddhartha says:

            Bikes and pedestrians are powered by human energy. Cars are fuel-powered, and thus much more powerful. Did you actually need this explained, or were you just trying to prove some weird point?

            • dannyboy says:

              “Did you actually need this explained, or were you just trying to prove some weird point?”

              I wanted you to see things from another’s perspective.

              not possible?

            • Steven says:

              Siddhartha, that’s a ridiculous argument. The source of the power is irrelevant. What matters is the difference in speed at which bicyclists and pedestrians travel, and the harm that collisions can cause to both. I think dannyboy made an interesting and reasonable analogy.

          • Alta says:

            It’s called every other sidewalk in the entire city.

    10. Joan says:

      I never walk on the shared pedestrian/bicycle path because it is too dangerous. This limits me to walk south of the cafe. I think they should be kept separate at all times. The crossing near the cafe is always dangerous since most bicyclists feel they have the right of way and do not yield to pedestrians, and bicyclists often ride on the ramp going to the street which they are not supposed to do.

    11. JG says:

      It is misleading to say that “a new bike lane” is in the works here. There is a master plan that has been discussed, but the costs would be exorbitant. Any such changes are likely decades away.

      In the meantime, commuter cyclists outnumber pedestrians on this stretch during morning and evening rush Monday through Friday all year long. I use the route every day.

      It may look good on a confusing site plan, but Forcing cyclists to use the inland paths is a disaster waiting to happen. The steep hills alone introduce speeds you never have on the current esplanade, and on curving paths with many more intersections.

      This proposal is well intentioned but shortsighted and ill considered – a poor, always solution for a sometimes problem. Alternate proposals should be studied. At the very least, the ban on bikes should be only on summer weekends when pedestrian traffic spikes.

      • dannyboy says:

        “commuter cyclists outnumber pedestrians on this stretch during morning and evening rush Monday through Friday all year long.”

        funny that you omit the fact that pedestrians have been pushed out by the bikers.

        • JG says:

          Commuters use the path when there aren’t many pedestrians. Pedestrians use the path on weekends when there aren’t many commuters. If there ever is any problem it is on summer weekends when sporting cyclists and pedestrians are most evident. If any diversion of cyclists is needed it should be on summer weekends only when there is a potential conflict. At all other times, the conflict doesn’t exist.

          • dannyboy says:

            “At all other times, the conflict doesn’t exist.”

            I walk daily. Guess I shouldn’t believe my lying eyes.

            Go for it! Bikers Rule!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

          • Zulu says:

            Nah dude, it’s pretty bad most of the time. I’m very familiar with the area and it’s down right dangerous.

    12. Cato says:

      All of this to-do is such a waste of time and effort.

      Regardless of whether a dedicated bike path is built, and regardless of whether it is designated to be all-year or just sometimes, bikers will ignore it and ride on the pedestrian path.

      No, not all bikers will do that — but many will, and enough of those will be those who want to BLASSSSST through in their official Lance Armstrongs that, without police enforcement, the pedestrian path will continue to be unusable by pedestrians.

      Put up signs, post speed limits — all a waste of time. The privileged and entitled will just do what they want to do, whenever they want to do it. Just try walking or, heaven forbid, crossing a road in Central Park.

      This isn’t an infrastructure problem; like so much on the New Upper West Side, it’s an attitude problem.

      And signs aren’t going to change that.

      ZOOOOOOOOOOOMMM!!!!!!

      • RK says:

        As an avid cyclist I totally agree with you. The Lance Armstrongs (or “Freds” in biker parlance) have zero respect for others and should be reprimanded. Or have a non-life-threatening accident to put the fear of G-d in them (which is actually what happened to me…)

        They are also dangerous to each other, I saw two bikes go down when one jerk unnecessarily and aggressively passed another, both of whom were going too fast, and the passer cut it too close and caught something on the “slowpoke”. Not pretty.

        They should learn that those things on the handlebars are called “brakes” and they are always an option.

        Again, this from an avid cyclist..

    13. josh says:

      It is only a slight issue at certain points in the Esplanade, where it narrows or where there is an inordinate number of people — such as right by the Boat Basin Cafe. The better and more efficient solution is to use speed bumps, so that a cyclist will have to slow down or dismount at those junctions. The bumps should be high enough to deter fast riding, but low enough that it isn’t a potential hazard to a cyclist going too fast (so as to avoid liability on the city’s part)

      • Zulu says:

        Any change in elevation 1/2″ or higher is considered a tripping hazard and an ADA violation unless the edges are beveled 45 degrees. Any larger changes in elevation need a ramped transition no steeper than 1:48. Anything steeper folks on wheelchairs will get snagged. These dimensions above don’t offer much of an impediment for a bicycle either. The best solution here, is the separation of the bike lane from the pedestrian lane, but to do it right it’s going to cost money.

      • Kindly Dr. Dave says:

        Speed bumps are a great idea. I’m a biker who doesn’t think he’s Lance Armstrong and would have no problem. The “racers” need discipline.

      • Cato says:

        This is an *excellent* idea.

        And I would *not* (not not not not not) keep the speed bumps “low enough that it isn’t a potential hazard to a cyclist going too fast (so as to avoid liability on the city’s part)”. That’s where good signage will protect the City.

        “Caution: Speed Bumps Ahead”.

        Make ’em high, make ’em painful. You want to ZOOOOOMMM through anyway, Lance? You’re on notice, and can’t complain.

        Then maybe the Lance wannabees will ride slowly, or, better, ride elsewhere — and pedestrians will be able to walk on the pedestrian path once again without taking our lives in our hands.

        zoooooooommm….OOOOOPPSS …… ker-PLOP! (or maybe even “ker-SPLASH!”)

        What a *great* idea!

      • Christine E says:

        Yes please! We need the bikes to slow to a crawl in congested areas.

    14. Doriann says:

      My last amble on the walkway was absolutely terrifying because of the cycles. No sympathy.

    15. UWSEd says:

      New path = great pedestrian danger.

      I missed this new bike plan in its earlier phases, BUT, many accidents are just waiting to happen. Bikes are going to pass directly – but directly – across the bottom of a set of 3 flights of stairs. Pedestrians are going to have to stop on the stairs to make certain they’re not run over?!! THIS IS DANGEROUS.

    16. Theobviousrightunderyourfeet says:

      The solution is simple—speed bumps won’t work because if they are high enough to slow down bikers they will also trip pedestrians.
      Cobblestones. Or something similar, perhaps bigger and more consistent than cobblestones but still lumpy enough to cause bikes to shake and rattle and slow down instinctively—-similar to the ones on older sections of the walkway in Riverside Park next to Riverside Drive. There are sections of that are fine for walkers but jiggle the teeth of any bike rider that tries to go faster than 5 miles an hr.

      • Zulu says:

        Yes,that could work better than speed bumps but it may still be a sticky point with ADA. The cobblestone you refer to by River Side Drive predates the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Any new surfaces being installed now would go under a code compliance review and a surface as you describe would likely be deemed too treacherous for people on wheel chairs or folks with compromised mobility (canes, walkers, etc.) There is an engineered “cobblestone” product that’s ADA approved but it’s mostly used for aesthetics and it does not provide much of a bumpy ride.

        Also, cobblestones tend to be too smooth and slippery which is another design criteria (coefficient of friction) taken into account when designing and installing walkways. This is why concrete sidewalks are given a broom finish.

        The best solution to this problem is really a separation of the paths. This piece of infrastructure is being used at well over capacity and a new design that safely addresses the needs of all users is a must. I don’t think a quick fix will get us too far on this issue.

    17. Independent says:

      Again I ask, what about north of 83rd street? The shared bicycle and pedestrian path is quite worrisome.

      In August 2015, WSR reported BICYCLIST SLAMMED INTO TODDLER IN RIVERSIDE PARK, THEN LEFT SCENE: WITNESS. According to the story, “The crash occurred around 95th street inside the park on the shared bike-pedestrian path next to the Hudson River”.

      I must say that along that very area, I regularly see pedestrians walking in the wrong direction, apparently blissfully oblivious to the fact of their doing so.

      Perhaps even more troubling than that relatively wide stretch near the tennis courts, though, is the stretch that begins just a little further north, around 100th street or so, where the railing along the edge of the river ends, giving way to an accesible rocky coastline. There, on considerably narrower paths, there are designations for no less than four distinct lanes: Two in each direction for pedestrians and bikers, respectfully. The lanes are impossibly narrow, however; the only way four such streams of traffic could be maintained according to the marked designations would be if each and every individual travesing them were to perfectly remain in single-file at all times. And that, by all appearances, is plainly unrealistic (regardless of any theoretical physical calculations anyone may have come up with). I can say that every time that I have been in the area-in-question and have been mindful of such things, I have witnessed bicycles riding in the pedestrian-designated lane (and likely vice-versa as well).