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.
“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.