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Posts from the "Hudson River Greenway" Category

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Parks Department Detours Hudson River Greenway in Harlem Until December

The closed section of the path, looking north from 133rd Street.

The Hudson River Greenway between 133rd Street and 135th Street in West Harlem is closed until December, with users instructed to use 12th Avenue as a detour during the greenway’s busiest warm-weather months.

Detour signage instructs greenway users to travel via 12th Avenue.

Detour signage has been placed on the greenway as users approach the closed section, though our tipsters said there was no warning signage in advance of the closure.

The closed section is along a seawall bulkhead, while nearby sections are not immediately adjacent to the riverfront. It also passes a Department of Sanitation facility and a natural gas facility, both of which are located on the river and connected to the path by pier structures.

This isn’t the first time the Parks Department, which manages the Hudson River Greenway, has shut down sections of this key cycling artery to Upper Manhattan. A few years ago, Parks banned biking on greenway access paths linking to Riverside Park, but later reversed the decision. Last year, rehabilitation of a bridge over the Amtrak corridor threatened to shut the path entirely north of the George Washington Bridge. After a nor’easter last November, the the department decided to shut the path altogether.

Streetsblog has asked the Parks Department why the path is closed and what kind of work will be taking place there. We’ll let you know if we hear anything back. Update: A utility company will be performing construction work at the site, according to Parks Department spokesperson Phil Abramson. “The work is not happening on parks property but they need room for construction staging,” he wrote in an e-mail.

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Car-Free Parks? Not During This Hudson River Greenway Drive-In Picnic

Driving over a mile on a car-free greenway for that perfect picnic spot? No problem. Photo: Katty Van Itallie

New York City’s parks are supposed to be a respite from the noise and stress of the city. It seems a few people haven’t got the message — and are using the Hudson River Greenway bicycle and pedestrian path as their personal driveway to the Upper Manhattan waterfront.

Reader Katty Van Itallie tells Streetsblog that she was biking on the greenway at about 6:30 p.m. yesterday when she came across a couple of SUVs parked on the grass near the Little Red Lighthouse in Fort Washington Park. The drivers and passengers had set up a sunset picnic nearby. When she snapped some photos, one of the members of the group approached her, telling her not to take pictures of their cars and that they had a permit for the drive-in.

“There would certainly be a permit for a picnic. I can’t speak to the driving,” said Parks Department spokesperson Phil Abramson. UPDATE: ”No permits were issued for any kind of event at this park,” Abramson said in an e-mail to Streetsblog.

Read more…

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NYPD Ticketing Cyclists for Late-Night Hudson River Greenway Commutes

NYPD is ticketing cyclists riding on the Hudson River Greenway after 1:00 a.m., which is the Parks Department’s citywide closing time, according to a reader who was stopped by police on the greenway last night.

NYPD shut down the Hudson River Greenway as a functional transportation route last night after 1:00 a.m. Photo: Ed Yourdon/Flickr

A Streetsblog reader who gave her name as Ellen says she was commuting home at around 1:30 a.m. early this morning when she saw a police cruiser blocking the path near 72nd Street. She had heard that officers were ticketing cyclists for using the greenway after 1:00 a.m., so the encounter wasn’t entirely unexpected.

“He didn’t ticket me, but gave me a warning,” Ellen writes. However, she says the officer’s partner gave tickets to other riders that passed by during that time. The officer told Ellen that riders are putting themselves at risk of attack by riding in the park after 1:00 a.m. ”I told him we are commuting home on the safest route possible,” Ellen said. “I said I would rather take my chances in the park than on the street with the drunk drivers.”

Calling the rationale of getting cyclists off the greenway in the name of safety “just plain nuts,” Ken Coughlin, who serves on the transportation committee of Community Board 7, which covers the Upper West Side, noted that the greenway is “the cyclists’ equivalent of the Henry Hudson Parkway.”

“Sharing streets with motor vehicles is more dangerous for cyclists in any case, but it is far more dangerous late at night when drivers tend to go faster and are more likely to be impaired,” he said.

It’s hardly the first time that Parks Department policy has conflicted with the greenway’s role as a transportation artery. A few years ago, the department banned biking on greenway access paths linking to Riverside Park, but later reversed the decision. After a nor’easter last November, for instance, the Parks Department decided to shut the path entirely. Now, police enforcement of the 1:00 a.m. curfew is diminishing the benefits of improved lighting on the greenway between 59th and 72nd Streets, which NYC DOT installed in February, encouraging evening and nighttime cycling.

South of 59th Street, the greenway is owned by the New York State Department of Transportation, and remains open 24 hours a day.

Parks Department spokesperson Philip Abramson confirmed that Riverside Park and Riverside Park South, including the greenway, close at 1:00 a.m., but referred other questions to NYPD. Streetsblog has inquired about the ticketing with NYPD via phone and email, but has not received a reply.

UPDATE:  CB 7 chair Mark Diller told Streetsblog, ”It’s of concern that the greenway is not open at all hours, if only for the reason that streets get more dangerous after dark.” Because the path is a major route for cyclists north of 59th Street, Diller would like to reach some kind of agreement with the Parks Department, and will be meeting soon with the parks administrator to address this and other park issues.

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Let There Be Light: Notorious Dark Patch of West Side Greenway Gets Bright

New lights on the Hudson River Greenway between 59th and 72nd Streets. Photo: Sebastian Delmont/Flickr

New lights appeared earlier this week on the Hudson River Greenway between 59th and 72nd Streets, on a notoriously dark stretch beneath an elevated section of the West Side Highway.

Although a few patches remain dark, sources tell us it’s a vast improvement. Word is that DOT is responsible for installing these lights, which are a temporary solution until the Parks Department redesigns this area of the park next year. Repeated appeals from local cyclists to the Parks Department to provide this simple safety upgrade were met with surprising apathy in the past. Parks first promised lighting on this stretch of the greenway in 2010, but didn’t deliver anything until last year. The new lights seem to be a big step up compared to the old ones.

Streetsblog has checked with DOT and the Parks Department for more information. We’ll let you know if we hear an update.

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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.