By Daniel Katzive
Reconstruction of the 79th Street Rotunda structure has led to a rerouting of the bike route along the Hudson River through Riverside Park. Effective today, July 20, the bike path will no longer run over the Rotunda, but will instead continue on the promenade, along the river, past the shuttered Boat Basin Cafe and Marina. South of 79th Street, the path will continue to loop inland as it has done in recent years, around the running track at 72nd Street.
The new routing is partially a return to the status quo, which existed prior to five years ago, when bikers heading north and south shared the promenade with pedestrians. The decision to shift the route over the Rotunda was made in 2016, in response to complaints about crowded conditions and dangerous conflicts between bikers and pedestrians, particularly as the promenade passed between the Boat Basin Marina and the Boat Basin Cafe, both of which are now closed for reconstruction. When the rerouting was approved by CB7, a number of bikers protested over the steep climb and diversion from the river, as West Side Rag reported back then.
However, the new routing is only partially a return to the old days. As noted above, the new route continues to divert from the promenade south of the Rotunda. Moreover, whereas, historically, pedestrians and bikers shared the promenade without separation, the Parks Department has now created distinct bike and pedestrian lanes as the route passes the Marina.
This new bike path configuration is likely to be with us for some time as Rotunda reconstruction will last at least two years, according to a timeline shared by the NYC Department of Transportation with West Side Rag earlier this month.
Note: Users of Riverside Park should also be aware that sections north of 79th Street and north of 98th Street will be closed this Sunday July 24th for the New York City Triathalon.