The Hudson River Greenway is the most heavily used bike path in the United States, carrying roughly one-seventh of all cyclists entering Manhattan below 50th Street. In Upper Manhattan, where there are fewer bike lanes and much less on-street protection for cyclists than further south, it is truly the backbone of the bike network.
Despite the greenway’s centrality to the city’s bike network, a ten-block stretch of the path between 135th and 145th Streets has been closed for a week, with scarce effort to provide an alternative route for cyclists and other park users.
Last Wednesday, a fire at the North River Wastewater Treatment Plant forced that plant offline, sending untreated sewage from Manhattan’s entire West Side directly into the Hudson. As part of its round-the-clock repairs, the city Department of Environmental Protection closed the greenway where it runs in front of the plant. A DEP spokesperson said that the greenway was closed to allow for emergency responder access, but would not elaborate further.
The plant is separated from the street grid by both train tracks and the West Side Highway, so it’s not implausible that the greenway space is needed for vehicle access or staging. I did not, however, see any vehicles, emergency or otherwise, on that stretch of the greenway this morning. Since the area in front of the wastewater plant was restricted, it was difficult to get a good view of the entire closed-off greenway segment and what it’s being used for.
As I learned when I rode my bike up to the area to investigate, the closure forces cyclists heading north or south on the greenway into a confusing, time-consuming, and potentially dangerous detour without any sort of signage or guidance.