CB7 Pushes Back On Plans To Close Cherry Walk For Hurricane Sandy Repairs

Cherry Walk. Photo via Riverside Park Conservancy.

By Lucas Brady Woods

Community Board 7 is pushing back on possible plans to temporarily close Cherry Walk, a section of Riverside Park and a major thoroughfare for cyclists along the Hudson River Greenway.

The CB7 Transportation Committee voted on Tuesday night to adopt a resolution asking the city to come up with an alternative cycling route that would bypass planned construction. The board’s vote comes after the cycling community has expressed concerns over closing such a vital section of one of the busiest bike paths in the city.

But the Cherry Walk closure plan is still in development, according to Parks Department spokesperson Megan Moriarty. She said the department is meeting regularly with advocacy groups such as TransAlt, StreetsPac, and Bike New York in order to keep the cycling community informed.

“We understand the concerns of cyclists who use the Greenway every day,” she said in an emailed statement. “We welcome community input as we finalize this plan for necessary safety and infrastructure work.“

As reported in Streetsblog, the Cherry Walk section of Riverside Park, which runs from about 100th St to 125th Street, may close for at least two months in order to complete repairs to the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

According to CB7 Transportation Committee member Ken Coughlin, the closure will probably take place in April or May in order to complete necessary work before federal funding expires and will possibly be the first of two phases. The Parks Department declined to confirm this timing. Coughlin also said the board was surprised by the Parks Department’s announcement about the potential closure.

“It’s not our job to come up with an alternative,” he said, but also suggested temporarily replacing parking spaces along Riverside Drive with a bike lane as a potential solution.

Chair of CB7 Mark Diller agrees that the city needs to propose a safe alternate bike path. But he also says the work planned by the Parks Department is essential for the integrity of the shoreline.

“The waterfront edge of Manhattan island was badly damaged, and the drainage and sustainability of the bike path above it impacted,” Diller said. “[The construction] has to be done even though it’s not the best time or the best way.”

Howard Yaruss, the co-chair of the board’s Transportation Committee, says the primary motivation behind pushing the city to plan an alternate route is about ensuring safety all around.

Yaruss said officials have been receptive to Community Board 7 input in the past in regard to cycling projects, citing bike lanes on Amsterdam Avenue, Columbus Avenue, and Central Park West as success stories.

Apart from the Cherry Walk closure issue, the CB7 Transportation Committee discussed other issues last night. It passed a resolution asking the city to consider technology like anti-crash sensors in commercial and for-hire vehicles, and, although the committee debated for almost an hour about standards for allowing curbside access, they could not come to a consensus on a policy for approving building requests for curbside loading zones.

NEWS, OUTDOORS | 18 comments | permalink
    1. Scott says:

      Of course this path needs to be repaired. As for Hurricane Sandy, if that’s the excuse, so be it. I seem to recall the concrete was bulging before that. But federal funds are being offered so they should take them. Don’t repeat the stupidity of Westway.

    2. Christine says:

      They are just NOW getting around to Sandy improvements? What the hell?

    3. Penelope says:

      Repairs scheduled for April /May? The worst possible time, just when all the blossoms are out!

    4. Cycling Advocate says:

      “At least 2 months” is an optimistic euphemism for “don’t expect to use this until October.” There have been other areas where work was just as badly needed (for instance, in the area south of the tennis courts by the GWB and the Hudson River Park entrance area just north of 59th St) and alternative solutions were found to create temporary detours or diversions around it. Forcing cyclists on to Riverside Drive (including kids and other less skilled riders who tend to come out in large numbers during the spring) sounds like a recipe for disaster.

      Those who use this part of the path (both cyclists and runners) know that during warmer months, this is one of the few areas of the greenway not clogged by traffic jams and tourists. CB7 and the Parks Department have encouraged commuters and recreational riders to rely on this route–the greenway is supposedly the busiest bike lane in the country. It’s about time they come to terms with the responsibilities that come along with that status, rather than always trying to take the easiest shortcut they can find. You would think they would have already gotten that message following the debacle involving the new cycling diversion around the boathouse (which almost a year later still lacks proper signage, lane markers, and a separation from car traffic at the roundabout–but has plenty of large hazardous potholes).

    5. Chris says:

      I sure hope they’re fixing the root ridges in the pavement. It’s the worst section in the park for cycling.

    6. Kevin says:

      “suggested temporarily replacing parking spaces along Riverside Drive with a bike lane as a potential solution.”

      Yes! Yes! Yes! Why didn’t I think of that? And now we can skip the million-dollar survey and just GET RID OF ALL CARS on the UWS and just let there be infinite bike paths (will mesh well with the infinite CitiBike racks!) and NO FREE PARKING for anyone! We need more bike paths!!! And bikes! And bikers!

    7. robert ruff says:

      Unless there’s an urgent and dangerous conditions, has anyone suggested that the construction by the Cherry Walk take place in the winter? Far fewer cyclists would be impacted in the colder months.

      • Woody says:

        One doesn’t have to be a construction expert to know how difficult it is to do outdoor construction projects in the winter. Surely you can understand the challenges.

    8. Ken says:

      The first construction project will be just to fix shoreline damage. The second one, as yet unscheduled, will address the worst bumps on the Greenway path itself.

      • prosperine says:

        I think they are fixing the sanitation overflow…the water has had tons of overflow sewage for the past year which is why they canceled the Triathlon last year. I see the scum/sludge floating from 125 to Boat Basin nearly daily.

    9. Gretch says:

      As both a cyclist and a runner, I can attest that this is one of the worst sections of the greenway both with regard to quality of the pavement and the conditions of the markings (very poor). Many northbound pedestrians don’t realize that they should cross from walking on the right to the pedestrian path on the left (west side). When you have pedestrians on both sides and cyclists trying to pass, it is an incredibly dangerous situation. Add in the potholes, puddles, and lifting pavement and it’s an accident waiting to happen.

    10. Prosperine says:

      I walk Cherry Walk every day from 129th. It’s in good shape. They just want to claim they are doing things to beautiful and benefit the community.

      • Josh says:

        I assume you are commenting on the shoreline and not the condition of the path…

        • Prosperine says:

          The path…I lived UWS since 2002 and as a runner and walker, never had an issue with it. Portions of bike trail which are terrible are East River Parks down by E 6th Street track, and some spots on the UES and East side near the con ed power plant which they have fixed up a bit in the last few years.

    11. Whadda Mess says:

      If this distracts the UWS bike dictator oligarch from parked cars, I’m all for that!

    12. lissa brady says:

      Thank you for your coverage of this meeting and the excellent writing of this article.

    13. MarkJay says:

      Let’s hope that if they go ahead with this, they finally put in some proper signage and painting on the pavement to let runners know that they need to run north in the lane closest to the river, not in the bike lane. It’s counterintuitive, so they need to make this more clear. The situation is dangerous. I’m a runner and I can say that it’s always runners, not cyclists, who are in the wrong lane.

      • Kevin says:

        Um, no not always. I’ve actually given up running north on the “west” lane because (1) bikers heading south drive in that area at a million miles an hour basically right on your face and (2) it’s nearly impossible to squeeze by joggers safely, in the same lane, heading south.

        I’ve given up and head north and stay to the right (east side) and run stress free now.