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Posts from the East River Park Category


Patchwork Upgrades Move Ahead as East Side Waits for Complete Greenway

The East River Greenway, stepchild of Manhattan’s bikeway network, currently consists of segments beneath, beside, and sometimes even above the FDR Drive. A report issued by New Yorkers for Parks yesterday acknowledged that East Siders awaiting a continuous path will have to wait decades before they can walk or bike on a full-length East River Greenway. In the meantime, an uncoordinated series of plans, studies, and development projects attempt to piece together sections of the route.

New Yorkers for Parks found East Siders could benefit from better access to the East River Greenway in four different surveys, but plans for its completion remain scattered. Map: NY4P

For its study, New Yorkers for Parks measured the quality of and access to open space in the council districts represented by Dan Garodnick and Jessica Lappin, who sponsored the survey.

New Yorkers for Parks has now completed four open space audits for neighborhoods from the Lower East Side [PDF] to East Harlem. Eastern parts of these neighborhoods, which are beyond easy walking distance from Central Park, “are situated along the East River Esplanade, which would better serve residents if it were more accessible, continuous, and well-maintained.”

“Anyone who has spent time in Hudson River Park knows that the benefits of a continuous esplanade are quite great,” NY4P Executive Director Holly Leicht told Streetsblog. The Hudson River Greenway is the busiest multi-use path in the nation, and a critical route for bike commuters. “It’s very broken up on the East Side. It’s very piecemeal,” Leicht said.

The East River waterfront has been the subject of numerous studies and plans. The Department of City Planning released its citywide Greenway Plan in 1993, the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway Master Plan in 2004 and a citywide waterfront plan in 2011. There have also been vision plans that look at smaller sections of the riverfront, from the Municipal Art Society, CIVITAS, Hunter College planning students, and 197-a plans from community boards that looked at Stuyvesant Cove [PDF] and the area beneath the Queensboro Bridge [PDF].

In addition, the Blueway Plan lays out a vision from 38th Street to the Brooklyn Bridge, and EDC is leading a planning process that could bring new sections of the greenway online block-by-block between 38th and 60th Streets from 2015 to 2024.

Even when projects make the jump from the pages of a planning document to reality, the result, for the time being, is still a patchwork. But a greenway becomes truly useful only when it is continuous. Will this patchwork coalesce over coming years to create a continuous route?

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East Harlem Parks Report Recognizes Value of Livable Streets

Because of its proximity to Central Park, you might be forgiven for assuming East Harlem has plenty of open space. But a new report from New Yorkers for Parks argues that the neighborhood is isolated from many of its parks by busy roads and other barriers. Streets and sidewalks, the group says, can play a crucial role in encouraging physical activity as part of the neighborhood’s fight against above-average asthma and obesity problems.

East Harlem children hula-hoop on the 104th Street play street in 2010. Photo: Transportation Alternatives

The report, funded by the Aetna Foundation and Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito, is the third in the advocacy group’s Open Space Index series; the first two reports covered Jackson Heights and the Lower East Side. Since its release in 2010, the Jackson Heights index has been used by local advocates and leaders to show how the neighborhood stands to benefit from initiatives such as play streets and public plazas.

New Yorkers for Parks Executive Director Holly Leicht told Streetsblog that she is hoping for this report to have a similar effect in East Harlem. “We want to put these in the hands of community leaders and residents,” she said, “and let them figure out what their priorities are with this data.”

One of the report’s top recommendations is the continued expansion of street safety improvements in the neighborhood. “Streets and sidewalks comprise 80 percent of New York City public space,” the report notes. “Unless they are safe, accessible passageways, they can serve as barriers rather than connectors.”

Play streets, which have already been implemented in East Harlem, can play a central role in providing open space for residents, the report finds. For six Thursdays in the summer of 2010, East 104th Street between Second and Third Avenues was converted to a play street, giving children space to play games, meet with friends or work on arts-and-crafts. The report recommends linking play streets with farmers markets to promote healthy nutrition along with physical activity.

The complete street treatments recently installed on First and Second Avenues are a big step forward for street safety, but East Harlem continues to have some of the most dangerous intersections on the East Side, including 125th Street and Lexington Avenue, where 19 cyclists and pedestrians died between 1998 and 2008.

Some intersections that provide critical access to parks along the Harlem River and the East River have already received upgrades after Transportation Alternatives worked with community groups to come up with solutions.The intersection of 142nd Street and Fifth Avenue, for example, received upgrades to slow traffic accessing FDR Drive and shorten crossing distances for pedestrians accessing a footbridge to Harlem River Park.

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Cabbie Mistakes East River Park Bike Path for Highway

The marker to the south is where the speeding taxi passed the cyclist. The marker to the north is where the cyclist gave up trying to chase after him.

A tipster sends along this story from the East River Park bike path...

Yesterday around 6:15PM, my friend and I were biking home from work through the East River park as we usually do, when a taxi flew past us! This path is separated from the FDR by a big fence and it is NOT easy to get onto it. We are used to park service and construction vehicles making their way down it, but they are always obeying the 5MPH posted speed limit and are generally not a safety hazard. This guy was doing at least 20MPH! Pedaling as fast as I could I couldn't catch up to him to either a) get his license plate or b) yell into his open window and call him a maniac and beg him to slow down and turn around.

There were a lot of people (kids on bikes, kids playing soccer, commuters, joggers) on the path at the time--did ANYONE manage to get a picture of this or get this guy's license plate? Even by NYC bike lane standards this was absurd. There is no way this person should have a license to drive, let alone drive a cab in New York. I want to see this guy's head in the stocks, and failing that, I want to see him fired.