An Abandoned Greenway Annex Beckons Bike Commuters – Streetsblog New York City

An deserted Manhattan park path might grow to be an alternate bike commuter route that avoids the steep climb on the Hudson River Greenway on the George Washington Bridge. All it wants is a bit of love and a few recent pavement.

Higher Manhattan’s greenway paths have an extended historical past of poor stewardship. What’s now the Harlem River Esplanade, a two-mile waterfront path from Dyckman Avenue southward, was deserted by town for practically 40 years — with one finish cut off by a highway ramp. Within the Nineties, what’s now the Hudson River Greenway north of 181st Avenue was sabotaged by a freeway challenge that narrowed elements of the trail and left behind jackhammered pavement and harmful holes. It took until 2003 for town to reinvest in these paths and make them bikeable once more.

However there’s nonetheless one Higher Manhattan greenway path that’s rotting prefer it’s 1999. This path runs by Fort Washington Park, connecting from the Hudson River Greenway path close to West 181st Avenue to Riverside Drive close to West 172nd Avenue.  It neatly weaves by the spaghetti of freeway ramps that infest the world, permitting cyclists to journey straight between the greenway and Riverside Drive with out climbing steep hills.

Back in 2003, utilizing this path required a little bit of risk-taking. Its north aspect, subsequent to Riverside Drive below the George Washington Bridge, was walled off with concrete barriers, requiring southbound vacationers to briefly scurry into freeway visitors and clamber again over a guard rail. The intrepid explorer was then met with dead trees and a makeshift berm laying throughout the trail. Fortunately, these boundaries have been eliminated by 2018, when the close by Hudson River Greenway path bridge over the Amtrak tracks was briefly closed and a few greenway customers took this path as a detour.

You’ll be able to go to the trail by going to the Hudson River Greenway, simply south of the 181st Street pedestrian bridge. The greenway path curves off to the suitable, however in entrance of you is a moldering sidewalk that heads straight south, alongside the northbound Riverside Drive.

The entrance to the level path above the Hudson River Greenway, looking south from about 181st Street. Note the shipping container in the middle of the path. Photo: Daniel O’Neil
The doorway to the extent path above the Hudson River Greenway, trying south from about 181st Avenue. Word the delivery container in the course of the trail. Photograph: Daniel O’Neil

Comply with that sidewalk south: You’ll must navigate round a delivery container blocking many of the path (see above photograph) after which rigorously cross a little-used street that permits “approved customers” make a U-turn to the southbound Henry Hudson Parkway. Comply with the sidewalk southward, under the GWB overpass, and it quickly enters a grove of bushes.

The level path enters a grove of trees. Photo: Daniel O’Neil
The extent path enters a grove of bushes. Photograph: Daniel O’Neil

The trail has two forks: Take the right-hand fork every time.

When you get additional alongside on the trail, the pavement crumbles away. When you’re on a bicycle it’ll be a tough trip for the subsequent hundred yards or so.

Chewed up pavement makes for tough going for cyclists further along the level path. Photo: Daniel O’Neil
Chewed up pavement makes for robust going for cyclists additional alongside the extent path. Photograph: Daniel O’Neil

The trail weaves by the woods, alongside a freeway ramp, the pavement comes again, and we find yourself at an intersection of Riverside Drive and freeway exits from the Henry Hudson Parkway and I-95, a couple of blocks north of one hundred and sixty fifth Avenue.

At the southern exit of the level path, be prepared to cross a number of highway exits. Photo: Daniel O’Neil
On the southern exit of the extent path, be ready to cross numerous freeway exits. Photograph: Daniel O’Neil

Though there’s no apparent path to maintain going southward, a more in-depth take a look at the visitors islands exhibits gaps within the guard rail and bits of pavement that present the intersection was initially designed with a crosswalk and a route throughout the ramps. The exits all have STOP indicators defending them. Cross right here and proceed south on the sidewalk on the west side of Riverside Drive. In a block or so, you’ll be at one other freeway ramp, again with no crosswalk, then you definately get to a visitors gentle by the New York State Psychiatric Institute constructing. That is the spot the place Riverside Drive modifications character from ugly freeway to normal-looking metropolis road. Because of the visitors sign, that is additionally the spot the place northbound cyclists on Riverside Drive can cross over and attain the trail.

This route may very well be made bike-friendly with a minimal funding — repair the pavement, restore the crosswalk stripes, designate the little-used sidewalk north of the institute as a shared bike/ped path, add some indicators to assist individuals discover their manner, and perhaps regulate the visitors gentle. This path doesn’t must be only a backup route for cyclists avoiding the greenway hill — it might let future throngs of Riverside Drive cyclists connect with the north path of the George Washington Bridge with out having to compete with drivers on Fort Washington Avenue or cross the visitors sewers of West 178th and 179th Streets. Though it’s now closed, the GWB north path will finally re-open for bicyclists as a part of Port Authority upgrades to the bridge. Similar to motorists, bicyclists additionally want secondary routes, particularly ones that keep away from steep hills.

So how will we maintain this park path from rotting for one more 40 years? How will we notice its potential as a helpful greenway route? Write, name or tweet at Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Metropolis Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez. Ask them to seek out some capital funding to repair this place up. Letting items of our park system go to seed is a Twentieth-century development that we will do with out.

Ed Ravin (@VeloTraveler), a long-time bicycling and livable-streets advocate, is a previous board member of the 5 Borough Bicycle Membership and Transportation Alternate options.