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Posts from the "Hudson River Greenway" Category

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Hudson River Park Trust’s Pier 57 Will Add to Car/Bike Greenway Conflicts

Plans for Pier 57 include a two-lane driveway, in teal, separated from 11th Avenue by the Hudson River Greenway, in light green. Red arrows, added by Streetsblog, indicate crossings planned for 17th, 16th and 14th Streets. Image: Philip Habib and Associates

A plan from the Hudson River Park Trust to transform Pier 57 into a retail and food market will add 75 parking spaces and a two-lane driveway to the park between 17th and 14th Streets, creating new points of conflict where people biking on the Hudson River Greenway will have to contend with cars crossing the path.

The crossings will have traffic signals with separate phases for cyclists and drivers, and will include speed tables to bring crossing vehicles up to greenway level. Crossings at 14th Street, where traffic exits the driveway, and 16th Street, where southbound 11th Avenue drivers will use a dedicated turn lane to access the driveway, will both have speed tables.

The widest crossing, at 17th Street, where the Chelsea Piers driveway ends and the Pier 57 driveway will begin, will not have a speed table.

“At the end of the day, having any driveways crossing the greenway is a safety problem,” said Noah Budnick of Transportation Alternatives. As an alternative to adding new crossings on the Greenway, Budnick pointed to the Goldman Sachs driveway on West Street between Murray and Vesey Streets, where the bikeway and sidewalk run between the street-side driveway and the building entrance.

The Pier 57 project also includes 75 parking spaces on the basement level of the pier, with access from the driveway across the sidewalk. “There’s no need for parking there,” Budnick said, adding that it will only serve to generate traffic and “increase the number of people driving across the greenway.”

The Pier 57 spaces will not be open to the public and instead will be reserved for those with business at the pier, according to Christine Berthet, co-chair of Community Board 4′s transportation committee. “Contrast that with Chelsea Piers,” she said, with its large public parking garage.

Read more…

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The Problem With Managing the West Side Greenway as a Park, Not a Street

The entrance to the Hudson River Greenway at 60th Street was closed from Wednesday afternoon until this morning.

New Yorkers looking to get somewhere on the city-owned portion of the Hudson River Greenway yesterday were blocked by barricades like this one. Along with the rest of the city park system, the greenway was officially closed from noon Wednesday until Friday morning, a precaution the Parks Department took to guard against the risk of falling trees caused by this week’s Nor’easter.

Parks Department spokesperson Philip Abramson confirmed that whenever city parks are closed, the greenway path closes too. “The greenway is part of the park and has trees along it,” he said in an email. “Also, one has to pass through the park to get to the greenway, in most cases.”

The risk of falling tree limbs due to winds or heavy snowfall is real, but the same risk affects other parts of the city’s transportation network that don’t get shut down during storms. Any sidewalk or roadway with mature street trees, for instance, is basically in the same situation as the sections of the greenway next to mature trees. Closing down the greenway also creates new risks, as cyclists are forced to ride with motor traffic on Manhattan’s wide avenues — which were slushy and slippery after this week’s storm — instead of a dedicated bike path.

In Sandy’s aftermath, when the number of New Yorkers riding bikes skyrocketed, there seemed to be a tacit acknowledgment by the city that the Hudson River Greenway is an important transportation artery. Streetsblog received reports from readers that the greenway remained open to bike traffic and foot traffic even though it was officially closed like other city parks. That made sense because when you get down to it, the greenway is not a park; it’s the trunk line in Manhattan’s bike transportation network. And many thousands of people needed to use the bike network to get where they had to go after the storm. The city should work on creating an official protocol to manage the greenway accordingly and keep it open to bike traffic to the greatest extent possible.

Separately, Abramson said the city is working to restore power to the electrical equipment that keeps the lights on along the greenway, which in some locations was flooded during Sandy. Readers report that the greenway has been pitch black and hard to navigate at night, north of 60th Street. “We are aware of the light outages and working on them,” said Abramson. “We do not yet have an estimated repair schedule.”

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Parks Department: Greenway Bridge Rehab Depends on Amtrak Schedule

We have a few bits of news on the upcoming closure and rehab of the bike-ped bridge that connects the Hudson River Greenway to Washington Heights and the George Washington Bridge.

The bridge is a crucial car-free link for commuters and other users, but Northern Manhattan parks administrator Jennifer Hoppa tells us that the Parks Department does not have user counts specific to the bridge itself.

Also, though the bridge is owned by Parks, the city will have to access Amtrak property to do the work. It is not yet clear how long the project will take — discussions among members of Community Board 12 reportedly suggested a time frame of 18 months to two years — but Hoppa says construction must be coordinated to minimize Amtrak service disruptions.

The city and Amtrak are still in talks regarding bridge design and construction logistics, according to Hoppa. The project start date and alternate route for bridge users are still to be determined.

The new bridge is one of several PlaNYC improvements coming to Washington Heights and Inwood.

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Parks Dept: Timeline and Detour Route Uncertain for Greenway Bridge Rehab

Photo: jag9889/Flickr. Used with permission.

A city Parks Department official says plans are not yet finalized for work on a bridge that connects the Hudson River Greenway to Washington Heights and the George Washington Bridge.

“The bridge is being reconstructed,” wrote Jennifer Hoppa, administrator of parks for Northern Manhattan, in an email. According to Hoppa, the department is still hammering out legalities with Amtrak. “Therefore I don’t anticipate that construction will begin in the fall,” she wrote.

The bridge rehab is one of a number of PlaNYC improvements slated for Washington Heights and Inwood. While it’s unclear at this point how long the project will take, Streetsblog reader and Heights resident Lars Klove told Streetsblog that recent discussions among members of Community Board 12 suggested a timeline of 18 months to two years.

As for commuters and other users who rely on the bridge, wrote Hoppa, “An alternate route will need to be identified for the construction duration.”

Hoppa is looking into user counts for the bridge. We’ll post those numbers here when we get them.

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Reader Report: Parks to Close Upper Manhattan Greenway Link for Two Years

Markings for directions from the Greenway to Washington Heights and the George Washington Bridge. Circled is the bridge that will reportedly be closed in the fall. See a photo of the bridge here.

We have word that a major bike-ped link to the Hudson River Greenway in Northern Manhattan will be out of commission later this year.

Long-time Streetsblog reader (and sometime contributor) Lars Klove was at a meeting this week where NYC Parks Department officials informed Community Board 12 that a bridge over the Amtrak tracks connecting the Greenway to Washington Heights and the George Washington Bridge will be closed in the fall for nearly two years.

In addition to runners, cyclists and others who use the bridge to access the GWB, uptown commuters rely on it as a safe route to and from the Greenway.

“I take the Greenway downtown every day and back to and from my office,” says Katharine Van Itallie, Klove’s wife. “Anyone not able to go over the Amtrak bridge would have to go down Riverside Drive or Ft. Washington Avenue to the next entrance ramp at 155th Street. It’s MUCH more dangerous, obviously, mixing it up with cars hurrying to get to work or to get home.”

There is a lesser-known path to the Greenway, a narrow unlit trail through the woods to the south of the GWB, which Van Itallie describes as “scary,” though it could conceivably be improved as a safe alternative route.

Streetsblog has messages in with the Parks Department and Community Board 12 concerning the bridge and its reported closure.

Editor’s note: This story originally stated that Parks Department personnel at the CB 12 meeting were dismissive of providing a “safe alternative route” between the Greenway and Washington Heights. In fact, discussions of an alternate route referred to another Greenway construction project planned near the George Washington Bridge. Further, remarks characterized as dismissive were made by a CB 12 member, not an employee of the Parks Department. Streetsblog is researching the second Greenway project. 

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Better Lighting Arrives on 13 Blocks of Hudson River Greenway

Bright new lighting will make riding the Hudson River Greenway much safer between 59th and 72nd Street. Photo: BicyclesOnly

Cyclists riding after dark on the Hudson River Greenway have long complained about the insufficient lighting on two stretches of the heavily-trafficked path. The “Cherry Walk,” between 102nd and 125th Streets, is made truly treacherous by the combination of an unlit pathway and the glare of oncoming highway traffic. Nearly as bad, though, are the 13 blocks between 59th and 72nd Streets, where the greenway runs beneath the elevated Miller Highway. That latter stretch is finally getting some upgraded lighting.

First brought to our attention by reader BicyclesOnly, better lighting is already up at the southern end of the stretch, below 63rd Street. New lights are currently being installed between 63rd and 72nd as the Parks Department builds the brackets to mount the lights onto the elevated highway and should be in by this spring, the department told Streetsblog. Similar lighting upgrades were promised in 2010.

“The Hudson River Greenway has been more successful than most imagined, especially in terms of the number of people who commute to and from work, often after dark,” said Riverside Park Administrator John Herrold. “We are improving the lighting because it became evident that the original lighting plan did not provide sufficient illumination for this stretch of the Greenway, which runs underneath the elevated highway and is thus in deep shadow. Our goal is to make the route safer and easier for cyclists to navigate; even more, it is to increase safety for pedestrians who must cross the path to enter or leave the park and are at risk of being struck, day or night.”

Lighting upgrades to the Cherry Walk, where they are more badly needed, would be more difficult, as there is no electric wiring to the path.

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Eyes on the Street: Washington Heights Gets Safe Greenway Connection

Shared lane arrows point the way between the Hudson River Greenway and 181st Street. Previously, this was a one-way street. Photo: c34 via Flickr.

Two months after winning support from Manhattan Community Board 12, a safer connection to the Hudson River Greenway is now in place at 181st Street.

Before, Riverside Drive north of 181st Street served as a one-way highway on-ramp, forcing cyclists exiting the greenway to either ride against traffic or dismount. Cars, too, drove the wrong way to get back on local streets without entering the Henry Hudson Parkway, creating unsafe conditions.

Now, DOT has turned a short stretch of Riverside back into a two-way street with shared lane markings painted in both directions. At the cost of a few parking spaces, this critical Upper Manhattan greenway entrance has been made safer and more easily accessible.

The changes check off one item on Community Board 12′s list of requested bike infrastructure improvements, which it passed unanimously this July. Perhaps some high-quality bike lanes for Upper Manhattan will be next.

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West Side Greenway Cyclist Struck by Cab Driver Last Saturday

Photo: Ken Coughlin

Streetsblog regular Ken Coughlin alerted us to a Saturday afternoon collision between a yellow cab driver and a cyclist on the Hudson River Greenway at 43rd Street. Ken took this picture at 3:45 p.m. He said the cyclist appeared to be unconscious.

The crash happened at the entrance to the Circle Line dock, which Coughlin says is “a particularly dangerous crossing because it gets a fair amount of fast-moving traffic coming in from the east.” Data from Transportation Alternatives’ CrashStat show that seven cyclists and one pedestrian have been injured in collisions there since 2003. The site is a few blocks north of where greenway cyclist Carl Nacht was killed by an NYPD tow truck driver in 2006.

The NYPD public information office had no details on the crash. According to a spokesperson, this indicates “minor injuries only” and “no criminality involved.”

If you have any information on what happened here, please leave it in the comments or send us an e-mail.

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CB12 Committee Okays Safe Greenway Connection For Wash. Heights Cyclists

Upper Manhattan cyclists will finally have a safe way to exit the Hudson River Greenway at 181st Street under a plan presented by the Department of Transportation and approved by Community Board 12′s transportation committee last night.

The current configuration of this block of Riverside Drive, which feeds directly onto the Henry Hudson Parkway, makes it impossible to legally bike from the west side greenway (accessible via the overpass at the top of this image) onto local roads. Under a plan approved by CB 12's transportation committee, it will be converted to a two-way street. Image: Google Maps

Right now, Riverside Drive north of 181st Street runs one-way and quickly becomes an on-ramp to the Henry Hudson Parkway. The only entrance to the Hudson River Greenway in the area is on that block, meaning cyclists exiting the much-used path must either illegally ride against the highway-bound traffic or dismount and walk south along the sidewalk. At the same time, drivers parked on that block often drive in reverse to 181st Street rather than go forward onto the highway. That’s created unsafe conditions which local activists have fought hard to fix.

The new configuration would change the section of Riverside before it becomes a true on-ramp into a two-way street with shared bike lane markings, reported Bike Upper Manhattan member Brad Conover, who attended last night’s meeting. Parking would be removed from the west side of the street, a fact which the community board grudgingly accepted, noting in its resolution that it would like to find replacement parking elsewhere.

“Bike Upper Manhattan applauds CB-12 Traffic and Transportation Committee’s resolution last night endorsing DOT’s plan to correct one of the most glaringly unsafe street designs in Washington Heights,” said Conover. “Cyclists exiting the Westside Greenway at 181st no longer will be dumped into oncoming one way traffic.”

In the long-term, DOT told the community board, a redesign of the park could provide cyclists with a ramp that connects directly onto 181st Street. Those changes would be years away at the earliest, however. In the meantime, the changes will help connect Washington Heights to the country’s most-used bike path.

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Parks Drops Dismount Signage at Upper West Side Greenway Exit

A reader sends along this shot from the Hudson River Greenway exit at W. 72nd Street. Cyclists are apparently no longer required to dismount on the shared path that connects the greenway and Riverside Drive, a ham-handed directive issued by the Parks Department last summer. Our tipster says the new signs have replaced dismount instructions, which were reportedly backed up by threats of summonses.

Good to see Parks acknowledge the value of this link to cyclists with an eye toward safety for all users.