Cyclists Rally and Ride to Remember a Death and Demand Cross-Park Bike Paths

Cyclists gathered at West 85th and Central Park.

By Renee Roden

On Sunday morning, a group of cyclists gathered at the West 85th Street entrance to Central Park to remember one of their own and demand safe cross-park bicycle paths.

More than 30 cyclists turned out to take “The Hunt for Safe Bike Paths” ride across the difficult-to-find shared path to East 96th Street. Some cyclists said that pedestrians have shouted at them for using the 96th Street path, and unclear markings and poor pavement also discourage them from taking it.

The ride, originally scheduled for Saturday, but moved to Sunday due to the Nor’easter this weekend, was held to commemorate the death of Dr. Daniel Cammerman, a well-known pediatrician, who was affiliated with Mt. Sinai Hospital. Dr. Cammerman was struck by a school bus and killed while cycling to work via the 96th Street transverse, which is used by motor vehicles, on Dec. 18, 2019.

Since then, COVID-19 has sent New Yorkers to bike lanes —and bike shops—in record numbers. But even before the pandemic, climate-conscious New Yorkers were hopping on bikes in droves. City infrastructure has struggled to keep up with the bike boom.

And one big, green obstacle is Central Park. There are currently three paths that cyclists may use to cross the park. One, at 72nd Street, is clearly marked as a two-way path. The 102nd Street path has no markings for bicyclists, but is used as an ersatz shortcut by many. One path, on 96th Street, is unclearly marked as a shared path.

Seeking safe cross-park paths.

“You shouldn’t have to be a detective in order to find the path,” said Lisa Orman, of Streetopia, a transportation advocacy organization. Orman and several fellow organizers sported Sherlock Holmes-type deerstalker hats and carried large magnifying glasses.

“We need a practical cross-park path that is safe and easily recognizable,” said Kara Pham, who commutes from the Upper East Side to the Upper West Side each day.

“We’ve spent a year with no action,” Orman added.

They’re hoping to put pressure on the current administration to take speedy action on developing better infrastructure for cyclists in the park—and to encourage mayoral candidates to support biking infrastructure as well.

NEWS | 27 comments | permalink
    1. RM says:

      This is very encouraging to see and if I had known about it, I would have gone. One of the easiest ways that cycling could be made easier and more practical for commuting in NYC is by making sure existing bike paths and bike lanes have easy, identifiable connecting routes between them. The potential bike lane on 72nd from Riverside to Central Park would be a great example, making it safe and easy to go from the Hudson River path to Amsterdam and Columbus bike lanes as well as the Central Park path. The Regional Plan Association came out with a citywide plan for such connected bike lanes. New York is falling behind other great cities like Paris and London in terms of both transit and bikeability and walkability, but we won’t have to and these kinds of bike lane additions are the low hanging fruit here. Thank you to these protesters.

    2. Eckersley says:

      Totally agree with this.
      The 96 st shared path is not only poorly marked, but is very up & down, with a deteriorated surface and does not connect to 5th Av.
      It will be safer for everyone if better crosspark bike paths are created.

    3. Otis says:

      They are correct. We do need clearly delineated and safe bike paths that cross the park.

      We also need speed bumps throughout the park to protect everyone else from bicyclists who ride dangerously fast.

      The other day I was running in the park – within the side of the road marked for running and walking – and some dude who thought he was Lance Armstrong zoomed by me and missed me by inches.

    4. Leon says:

      I think that a bike path across the park is a reasonable request. However, it should not come at the expense of one of the car roads. I am not a fan of all of the new bike paths on the UWS but having something across the park makes sense.

      I am eager to hear suggestions. It should come close to maintaining the integrity of the park. And it should have strictly enforced speed limits as there will have to be points where others cross it.

    5. David S says:

      I’m all for a safe bicycle route across the park near 96th Street. Along with that should come enforcement of traffic laws in all areas of the park, and fines similar to that which would be imposed on motorists for going through a red light, going the wrong way on a one-way street, failing to yield right of way, riding in a pedestrian lane, use of a non-hands-free phone while riding, or riding on a path not marked for bicycle use.

      • Aaron says:

        If motorists are not penalised for running red lights, double parking, blocking crosswalks, speeding etc. then it would seem illogical to penalise cyclists.

      • Your prejudice is showing says:

        You forgot jaywalking and crossing the road against the light.

    6. One additional problem with the path as it is, as if its bombed out condition alone were not enough, is that it does. not go all the way across the park. It ends at the east drive and cyclists must walk their bikes the rest of the way.

      • Mark P says:

        Correct. An indirect but workable solution is to ride up East Drive to approx 100 street (before the transverse that goes West) – there is a vehicular road there that leads down to Fifth Avenue.

        • Scared to DEATH says:

          Workable? That assumes one does not mind going 8 blocks out of their way each direction and does not mind riding with speeding cars and buses on 5th Avenue without a bike lane.

          • Mark Permann says:

            That’s why I called it “workable”. RIding on 5th Avenue for a short distance is workable if you are conscious of the traffic around you. I didn’t say it was ideal or even acceptable. It’s workable, if you need something that works for now.

            One of the things that really disappoints me is how inconsiderate some cyclists are. You’re on a bike, it’s way more efficient than walking – but you can’t be bothered to ride a few blocks out of the way to be safer for yourself and others. You’d rather salmon on Amsterdam (go the wrong direction) and put everyone following the rules in danger instead of riding one avenue over to Columbus, where the bike lane runs in the other direcction.

    7. Matt H says:

      In before more reflexive anti-veloists give Their Opinions:

      There’s every reason to believe new cross-park routes would be used in anything but a judicious manner by two-wheeled users. The only real complaint that people seem to have about the existing 95th street route is, due to unclear signage, not believing riders should be there at all.

      Are there some issues with reckless use by “speed demons” on the main drive? Sure. I mean, I think there’s some selection bias in play by some axe-to-grind observers, and it’s not a godawful problem, but it’s real. There’s every reason to believe that utility riders would responding to the cues on shared crosstown paths differently.

      • Matt H says:

        Hah, a few more edits needed there.

        “Every reason to believe crosstown routes like this would be used in a judicious manner” in the first paragraph

        And “would respond” rather than “would responding” in the second paragraph. I needed more coffee this morning obviously…

    8. Wendy says:

      I’ve been biking in the park, and across it, forever, and even I had no idea there was an official shared path across 96th Street. Where is it?

    9. Laura says:

      There is a cross park path at 102 and 96th for cyclists? NO IDEA! Clearly there needs to be better signage, yes please!

      • Chris Lipman says:

        I would love to see bike lanes on the 86 & 96th street traverses. It appears to be quite narrow, but what if they got rid of the walking sidewalk? There are always plenty of ways to walk crosstown. I go across the horse path (slowly) below the reservoir and periodically get someone yelling at me to walk the bike.

    10. Ken says:

      I wish them the best of luck, b/c, indeed, “you shouldn’t have to be a detective to find the path”… But I’m also waiting for bikers to gather in big numbers to encourage one another to begin obeying the most basic traffic laws. My guess is that 99% of bikers routinely flout those laws — & if that guess is wrong, it could only be b/c the real number is 99.9%.

    11. Vincent Mcgowan says:

      The pedestrians are the rightful users of the park paths in CP.
      Bikes should stay on the cross town roads with private vehicles and traffic.

      • Matt H says:

        And if people get killed that way (as has happened in at least two cases the last 7-8 years) tough luck?

        You seem insufficiently empathetic.

    12. Lori says:

      I suggest the old bridle path south of the reservoir, near the police station, around 86th Street. It is already a true parking lot, so pedestrians can’t get too cross if bicyclists use it too. It is wide enough for both directions, and is too bumpy and muddy for speeding.

      • Paul says:

        Agreed. It’s easily converted and the entrance to the park at 85th can be easily linked.

        There’s a wide path just above 96th, running south of the tennis courts, that can also be converted into a bike path with little or no inconvenience to pedestrians (many paths exist in the vicinity).

    13. Nevets K says:

      Try walking your bikes across the park.
      You’ll avoid dying that way, and you’ll avoid frightening or striking pedestrians. Or you can just take one of the many buses across the park and then get on the subway. That would be a certain way to cut down on the deaths of bicyclists.
      It’s well past time to give up this foolish experiment, which is sure to cost even more lives in the future.
      This is the wrong city for bicyclists. Stop looking to some imaginary future. Look at the NOW, at the continued deaths.

      • Frustrated with stupidity says:

        Nevets K, In the past 6 years, motor vehicles have seriously injured 69,925 pedestrians and killed 855 pedestrians in NYC. Using your logic, you should stay home or maybe try crawling everywhere instead of walking as walking is a “foolish experiment, which is sure to cost even more lives in the future.
        This is the wrong city for pedestrians.” Long live the motor vehicle!

        • Nevets K says:

          I agree.
          No pedestrians would be killed if there were no pedestrians on the streets or sidewalks.
          No bike riders would be killed if there were no bike riders on the streets or sidewalks.
          Let’s get rid of the bike riders first as they were the last to enter the insane mix.
          Motor vehicles are bad. Bikes just make things worse.
          This is apparent every day to everyone except bike riders.

    14. Alex says:

      I second Chris Lipman’s comment: I wonder why one of the sidewalks on the 86th and 96th st transverses couldn’t be converted to a two-way bike path (with pedestrians having the other sidewalk). It’s a straight shot across town. The pedestrian traffic is low. The street transverse is no place for a cyclist, as Dr. Cammerman’s death sadly attests.

    15. UWSCraig says:

      I support widening the 81st street transverse by 12 feet to accommodate bike lanes in each direction

    16. Kevin S says:

      So glad our community is speaking up about this and demanding better and safer transportation routes. I shouldn’t feel like I’m risking my life to go across town on my bike to have dinner! Many of us prefer to bike than take mass transit especially because of Covid- the City must do everything it can to facilitate this. There is no good way to get across town on a bike- it’s ridiculous! Thankfully Community Board 7 has called for cross-town bike lanes- now it’s time for the City and Central Park Conservancy to do something.