The Hudson River Greenway is the busiest bike route in the city, with around 5,000 cyclists riding it during the peak 12-hour period each day. This June, the Parks Department abruptly put up dismount signs at the 72nd Street entrance to Riverside Park, interrupting a popular access route to a major corridor within Manhattan’s green transportation network, according to Streetsblog.org.
Cyclists, pedestrians, and dog walkers all use the 72nd Street entrance heavily, and while no resolution has yet been reached, many now see adding bike lanes at other greenway access points as the best way to reduce conflict. But even if those plans are pursued, cyclists won’t be able to ride this critical link without fear of getting fined unless the Parks Department changes the dismount policy.
At a meeting of the Manhattan Community Board 7 Parks Committee last night, CB members, the city, and local activists seemed to coalesce around a plan to improve bike access to the greenway at 79th Street, taking some pressure off 72nd and thereby mitigating the rationale for dismount signs. Both committee co-chairs saw the 79th Street plan as a partial solution worth pursuing and steered the conversation toward the more controversial question of what to do on the 72nd Street path.
Parks Department Greenway Coordinator John Mattera explained the 79th Street idea using an electricity analogy. “Bicycles follow the path of least resistance,” he said. If you want to reduce conflict on the 72nd Street path, he added, “the way to do that is to make a lightning rod out of 79th Street.” With fewer cyclists at 72nd, he said, the dismount policy could be swapped for something a little less heavy-handed. Mattera said that he’d spoken with the NYC DOT and that “as sure as anything can be at City DOT,” striping a new bike lane along 79th and leading into the park was part of their plan for 2011.