The parks committee of Manhattan Community Board 7 restated its support for shared bike/pedestrian paths through Riverside Park and Central Park last night. In Central Park, the shared paths would create new east-west routes through the park, while in Riverside, the community board is fighting against the Parks Department’s surprise imposition of dismount signs on what was once a part of the greenway system.
In Central Park, progress is continuing apace, reported committee co-chair Klari Neuwelt. She said that Doug Blonsky, the head of the Central Park Conservancy, had told her that plans to allow bikes on certain east-west pedestrian paths through the park were moving forward around 102nd Street, 97th Street, and in the 80s. “You’ll have options in Central Park,” promised Neuwelt.
She added, however, that the plan to allow bikes to take the 72nd Street Cross Drive across the park is moving more slowly through the Department of Transportation than hoped.
In Riverside Park, however, a victory that seemed to be in hand remains elusive. Neuwelt said that she had been informed that the dismount signs in Riverside Park were to be replaced with signs urging bikes to ride slowly and share the space with pedestrians. Then, however, the Parks Committee received what Neuwelt called “a pretty weasely e-mail back from John Herrold,” the administrator of Riverside Park, shying away from any such commitment.
The Parks Committee promised to keep on top of Riverside Park to see that the dismount signs are removed. “We’re working on it,” said Neuwelt. “We’re not about to be taken for patsies either.”
In the long term, engineering efforts to take some pressure off the 72nd Street entrance to Riverside Park are still being pursued. CB 7 chair Mel Wymore noted that as part of the Riverside Center negotiations, funding was allocated to create a new ramp from 72nd Street to the greenway, so cyclists will go from road to greenway without passing through the park. The committee also pledged to continue pursuing the plan to create bike access from the 79th Street boat basin to the greenway.
In the short term, though, they said that getting rid of the dismount signs is the top priority. “There’s always going to be a need for bikers to enter at 72nd,” said Neuwelt.