Skip to content

SB event logo 580x200

Posts from the Department of Parks & Recreation Category


CB 7 Parks Committee Votes for Hilly Greenway Detour in Riverside Park

NYC Park wants to divert cyclists from the waterfront greenway to the hillier path marked by the bold dotted green line year-round. Image: NYC Parks

The Parks Department wants to permanently divert cyclists from the flat waterfront greenway to the hillier path marked by the bold dotted green line. Image: NYC Parks

Manhattan Community Board 7’s Parks and Environment Committee voted 4 to 1 last night in favor of the Parks Department’s proposal to route cyclists away from from Riverside Park’s waterfront greenway between 72nd Street and 83rd Street.

The plan would direct cyclists inland at 72nd Street through a hilly wooded path passing through the 79th Street Rotunda, which has a particularly steep incline. The justification is that the waterfront path is too crowded for cyclists and pedestrians to share, but the crowding is only a problem during peak summer months, and the detour would be in effect year-round. It is one of three similar detours in the department’s preliminary Riverside Park Master Plan.

The project received $200,000 from Council Member Helen Rosenthal’s participatory budget, far less than the $2 million that the Parks Department reps said is needed for a full build-out. In lieu of securing funds for the full project, the money will go toward partial measures: paving gentler turns onto the detour route at 72nd Street and 83rd Street, installing bright LED lights, and trimming surrounding trees to increase visibility. The project would be implemented next year.

Ultimately, the master plan calls for regrading the path to make it flatter. That would be an expensive capital project that would cost even more than $2 million, said Riverside Park Chief of Design and Construction Margaret Bracken. Until then, the detour will be in effect and the path will be hilly. The LED lights will at least improve visibility at night.

Read more…


Parks Dept. Implements Hudson River Greenway Detour, Then Explains It


Hudson River Greenway traffic will be disrupted for the next two weeks to allow for construction work around 59th Street, the Parks Department said today.

Yesterday greenway users were surprised to find the path fenced off from 59th Street to around 63rd Street, with all bike and foot traffic detoured onto a path approximately eight feet wide. A sign on the site seemed to indicate the detour would be in place for two years while Parks works on a capital project, including a playground and bikeway, in Riverside Park South.

As it turns out, construction work that affects the greenway is scheduled to be completed in two weeks, according to the Parks Department. During that time the greenway will be closed from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., with bike traffic rerouted by Parks officers. Yesterday, however, the detour was in effect in the evening, long after 3:30.

“The Riverside South Greenway will not be closed for two years — rather, it will be closed during certain times of day for a period of two weeks, during which time crews will be at work improving 59th Street entrance and the greenway,” said the Parks Department in an emailed statement. “NYC Parks appreciates cyclists’ patience and cooperation during this brief construction project.”

The explanation is better late than never, but the lack of any organized communication before the detour went into effect highlights how the Parks Department repeatedly fails to treat the greenway as the major transportation corridor that it is. We’re talking about the busiest bike route in the U.S., and the agencies that oversee it don’t even give people any advance notice when the path is disrupted.

“There is no question that there must be a safe and comparable alternative route provided to cyclists given that this is the most traveled bike path in the country,” Transportation Alternatives Deputy Director Caroline Samponaro told Streetsblog via email. “Cyclists of all ages and abilities depend on this path for daily commutes and this is a benefit to the city. We wouldn’t shut down a major roadway, for even a day, without clear and adequate detour plans for drivers. In 2016 we need the same standard for bikes.”


New Riverside Park Master Plan May Send Greenway Cyclists on Hilly Detours

The preliminary Riverside Park Master Plan reroutes cyclists away from the waterfront at 72nd Street. Image: NYC Parks

The preliminary Riverside Park Master Plan reroutes cyclists away from the waterfront at 72nd Street, along the hillier path marked by the bold dotted green line. Click to enlarge. Image: NYC Parks

The waterfront greenway in Riverside Park is one of New York’s most popular places to bike and walk. During the summer, it can get crowded — so crowded that the Parks Department is proposing new detour routes to divert cyclists away from the waterfront path. Those routes are hillier and poorly lit, however, and advocates are worried that the department will compel cyclists to use them at all times.

On Monday, the Parks Department presented parts of its preliminary Riverside Park Master Plan to the Manhattan Community Board 7 parks and environment committee. The plan includes bike detours along three segments of the greenway — between 72nd and 83rd streets, 93rd and 99th, and 145th and 155th.

The detour path between 72nd and 83rd received some funding courtesy of Council Member Helen Rosenthal’s 2015 participatory budget and will be built next year. It includes a particularly steep incline at 79th Street, where cyclists will have to climb up and around the 79th Street Rotunda. Lowering the grade of the rotunda’s access ramps is included in the long-term Riverside master plan, but is not part of the upcoming project and will likely be very expensive.

CB 7 member Ken Coughlin, speaking for himself and not the board, said that while the waterfront esplanade can get messy in the summer, most of the time it is fine. The greenway is the most heavily-biked route in the city, and for much of the year there are more cyclists than pedestrians using the waterfront path.

He warned that the detour paths could pose particular problems during the winter, when there is limited lighting and inclines may freeze over and become slippery. “The absence of notable conflicts on the current riverfront path during most days and times does not justify forcing [cyclists] to divert to a sub-optimal hilly, indirect and potentially unsafe route at all times,” he said in an email.

Rosenthal’s communications director Stephanie Buhle said rules regarding cyclists’ use of the waterfront path have yet to be determined. “[We are] trying to assess and make sense of what will work to make sure pedestrians and cyclists are using the space in a way that makes it possible for everyone,” she said.

Read more…


Happy Bike Month! Cyclists Must Dismount on Greenway, No One Knows Why

Update: The Parks Department sent us this statement Thursday evening: “Ensuring the safety of all during the holiday weekend, in preparation of increased pedestrian traffic during Fleet Week, NYC Parks has posted signs requesting cyclists dismount and walk their bikes on the west side greenway between 56-46th streets.”

Update: The Hudson River Park Trust sent us this statement Friday: “The Hudson River Park Bikeway is open, but users may be asked to dismount due to Fleet Week crowds. We ask that riders please adhere to the posted signs, and we appreciate their patience as we work to ensure safety along the Bikeway. “

Parks Department officers are ordering cyclists to dismount on the Hudson River Greenway in Midtown and ticketing people who don’t comply.

Streetsblog reader Joanna Oltman Smith tweeted photos of what look like uniformed Park Enforcement Patrol officers issuing a ticket to a cyclist near 45th Street, and another blocking the greenway with a “dismount bike” stop sign. She says the dismount zone is in effect between 46th and 49th Street, interrupting the biggest transportation artery for bikes in the city, if not the nation.

We contacted the Parks Department and the Hudson River Park Trust about the dismount zone. No one who answered the phone could say why cyclists are being asked to dismount, but it seems probable that whatever is happening is related to Fleet Week. The Parks Department press office and the Hudson River Park Trust have both said they’re looking into it.

Making people walk their bikes is not a rational response to past incidents. In 2011 a motorist killed Steve Jorgenson, a Marine in town for Fleet Week, as he and his shipmates exited a cab on the West Side Highway at W. 49th Street.

The greenway is controlled by city and state agencies, and the state has jurisdiction below 59th Street. Whatever the intent behind the dismount zone may be, it’s emblematic of greenway managers’ longstanding failure to recognize this route as a vital bike transportation corridor.


Parks Department Proposes 9-Block Bike Detour on Hudson River Greenway

A Park Department proposal could prohibit cyclists from biking along the west side waterfront between 73rd Street and 82nd Street. Image: Flickr

The Parks Department is proposing to shunt cyclists away from this waterfront section of the Hudson River Greenway between 73rd Street and 82nd Street. Photo: Howard Brier/Flickr

Cyclists could be forced to take a winding, hilly detour away from the Hudson River Greenway between 73rd Street and 82nd Street, thanks to a proposal from the Parks Department that has the support of Council Member Helen Rosenthal.

As DNAinfo reported, Parks landscape architect Margaret Bracken presented the plan at Monday’s Manhattan Community Board 7 meeting. The proposal emerged from last year’s participatory budgeting process, which allocated $200,000 to reducing conflicts between cyclists and pedestrians on that part of the greenway. Overcrowding is a concern during the summer months, when usage increases dramatically.

CB 7 member Ken Coughlin said the participatory budgeting plan only intended the alternate bike route for “high-traffic summer months” [PDF]. Now, Coughlin and other people who bike on the greenway are concerned the detour will force cyclists into dark, steep paths that could be especially unsafe during the colder parts of the year.

Brachen and representatives from Council Member Helen Rosenthal’s office told attendees at Monday’s meeting that they did not want to have inconsistent rules guiding usage of the path. “My response to that is they’re taking a sometime problem and applying an all-the-time solution that puts cyclists at risk,” Coughlin told Streetsblog. “I only agreed to be an advocate for [the plan] on the condition that it would be seasonal. The crowding on the path is only a real problem during the summer and during the day.”

A Parks Department spokesperson argued that the new bike route “will not be a detour” because it will run parallel to the greenway. “The safety of all parkgoers is a top priority for NYC Parks,” Parks Manhattan Borough Commissioner William Castro said in an email statement to Streetsblog. “Working with cycling advocates, we are happy to move forward with adding additional pathway to The Hudson River Greenway so to better accommodate cycling traffic on this popular Manhattan destination.”

Read more…


Eyes on the Street: Parks Officers Ignore Driver on Greenway [Updated]

A driver on the greenway? No way! Photo: Shelly Mossey

Reader Shelly Mossey says park enforcement patrol officers just to the right of the woman in green claim they never saw this driver on the greenway before waving him into a parking garage on Sunday. Photo: Shelly Mossey

A driver cruised down the Hudson River Greenway Sunday afternoon, passing park enforcement patrol officers who waved him into a parking garage at Pier 40. When Streetsblog reader Shelly Mossey asked why they didn’t ticket him, the officers pleaded ignorance.

Mossey was biking south on the Hudson River Greenway, on his way home to Battery Park City at about 5:45 p.m. Sunday. “I get to Houston Street, and I’m behind this minivan,” he said. The driver sat through a couple of light cycles as Parks Department enforcement officers next to the greenway waved cross traffic into the parking garage at Pier 40.

Eventually, the driver saw an opening during a green light. “They just waved him through into his parking spot,” Mossey said.

Mossey, a regular greenway user, recognized one of the Parks officers, who regularly hands out red light tickets to bicyclists. Mossey approached the officer to ask why he didn’t issue a ticket.

“He was like, ‘What minivan? They were on the bikeway? You’re kidding me!'” Mossey recalled. That’s when Mossey pulled up a photo he just took on his phone. “He says, ‘Oh, there’s nothing I can do from that. I can’t do anything with a photograph.'” Rather than going after the driver he had just waved into the parking garage, the officer said he would memorize the car’s New York license plate.

Frustrated by the disinterest from enforcement officers, Mossey left. “Their attitude is even more shocking than the guy driving on the bikeway,” he said. “There’s no way they didn’t see him. It’s not possible.”

Read more…


Eyes on the Street: Cyclists Ride New Hudson Greenway Ramp in Inwood

The new ramp connecting the northern terminus of the Hudson River Greenway to Dyckman Street. Photos: Five Borough Bike Club/Facebook

The new ramp connecting the northern terminus of the Hudson River Greenway to Dyckman Street. Photos: Five Borough Bike Club/Facebook

Cyclists and wheelchair users will soon have improved access to the Hudson River Greenway in Inwood, when the Parks Department officially opens a new ramp connecting the greenway to Dyckman Street.

The ADA-compliant ramp, at the northern terminus of the greenway, was supposed to open a year ago. Until now users had to enter and exit the greenway via a set of stairs on a segment of Riverside Drive that serves as a Henry Hudson Parkway onramp. The new ramp rises from the street in a series of switchbacks.

Though Parks told us the project isn’t quite finished, photos of people using the ramp are popping up on Facebook and Twitter.

With the completion of this project, it’s even more urgent to make Dyckman Street — which connects the east and west side greenways — a safer place to bike and walk. As of July, dozens of people had been injured in crashes on Dyckman this year, according to DOT’s Vision Zero View.

Community Board 12 asked DOT to study a citizen-generated proposal to add a protected bike lane to Dyckman, but the agency hasn’t acted on the plan in the seven years since it first surfaced.

Read more…


Central Park Above 72nd Street Is Now Car-Free Forever

Last week, people walking and biking on the Central Park loop had to worry about taxi drivers and car commuters motoring through the park as a rush hour shortcut. This morning was different: Above 72nd Street, you could ride your bike, walk your dog, or go for a run on a safer, quieter path with a lot more elbow room.

Officials and advocates celebrated the permanent expansion of the park’s car-free zone under sunny skies this morning. While traffic is still allowed in the heavily-used southern section of Central Park, today’s ceremony marks a big step on the path to completely car-free parks.

“This is a great day in Central Park,” said Douglas Blonsky, president and CEO of the Central Park Conservancy. “The conservancy for 35 years has been fighting to get cars out of the park and to see this happen is awesome.”

The changes, announced by Mayor Bill de Blasio earlier this month, build upon the gradual expansion of car-free hours that advocates have fought for since the 1960s, when the loop was overrun by traffic at all hours, every day.

Effective today, the Central Park loop north of 72nd Street is permanently car-free, except for emergency and service vehicles [PDF]. In Prospect Park, the West Drive will go car-free next Monday, July 6 [PDF]. Traffic will continue to be allowed at various hours on the Central Park loop south of 72nd Street, and during morning rush hour on the East Drive in Prospect Park.

“It’s terrific that we’re getting cars out of the park for the north side of the loop,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal, who co-sponsored car-free parks legislation with Council Member Mark Levine before the de Blasio administration took up the issue earlier this year. “I think we have a little bit of work to do to get [cars] out of the south side. I think that’s where the challenge really is. So we have some good work ahead of us to get that done.”

Read more…


The Case for 24/7 Access to the High Bridge

Video of opening day on the High Bridge: Clarence Eckerson.

New York City’s bike network would be a shell of its current self without the segments that run through parks. The most heavily traveled bike route in the city — the Hudson River Greenway — is in a park. Paths in Central Park, Prospect Park, and other public parks provide options for safe, quick bicycle travel that simply aren’t available on the city’s car-centric streets.

But bike routes in parks are not managed like other transportation routes in the city. The Parks Department closes greenways after a rough storm and imposes curfews that shut off legal access well before many people head home for the night.

With the opening of the High Bridge earlier this month, there’s finally a safe route to bike or walk between Washington Heights and the Highbridge neighborhood in the Bronx. The High Bridge, as it happens, is run by the Parks Department. As tremendous an improvement as the restored bridge may be, its curfew is also emblematic of broader problems with how the Parks Department manages critical active transportation routes.

The city has redesigned streets to make biking and walking to the High Bridge safer and more convenient. Anyone can use those streets 24 hours a day. The parks on each side of the bridge are open until at least 10 p.m. The High Bridge, meanwhile, closes at 8.

Reader Steven Kopstein wrote in to express his disbelief that the High Bridge is publicly inaccessible for 11 hours each day. Here’s his message, lightly edited:

I was anxiously anticipating the re-opening of the High Bridge. As a resident of Upper Manhattan with strong Bronx ties, I was very excited to finally have a way to cross into the borough on my bike without having to either ride on a crowded narrow sidewalk or on a dangerously busy bridge. I was also thrilled at the prospect of having a tourist draw and truly unique feature to show off to and enjoy with friends and relatives. I love the prospect of new recreational facilities being developed in an area that has been blatantly underserved for many, many years.

Read more…


After 45 Years, the Car-Free High Bridge Reopens to the Public Tomorrow

The wait is just about over. Tomorrow the car-free High Bridge will be opened to the general public for the first time in 45 years.

The High Bridge spans the Harlem River between Washington Heights and the Highbridge neighborhood in the Bronx. Built as part of the Croton Aqueduct in 1848, it is the city’s oldest bridge. The High Bridge stopped carrying water in 1958, and was closed to the public in 1970. The Bloomberg administration secured funds to restore the bridge in 2007.

The reopened bridge will provide a key link for walking and biking between the Bronx and Upper Manhattan. Bike riding will be permitted on the bridge itself, but access ramps are considered too narrow for shared use, according to the Parks Department, and cyclists will be directed to take stairs at each end.

We don’t yet know what hours the High Bridge will be open. In 2013 Parks said it will likely be closed at night, when the parks at each end are closed. Parks also said hours could be adjusted based on demand. Bike and pedestrian paths operated by the Parks Department are often prone to restricted or inconvenient access.

Clarence Eckerson shot this Streetfilm in 2009. For more on the history of the High Bridge, check out the short documentary from PBS Thirteen.