Riverside Park Bike Path Closure Expected

For bicyclists on the Upper West Side, it seems like a ride through Riverside Park may have a few obstacles. Riverside Park Administrator John Herrold recently announced the news that one of the city’s most popular bike routes will be closed for at least two months for construction. The ongoing repairs would close part of the park known as the Cherry Walk, which spans Riverside Park from about 110th Street to 125th Street.

The repairs are part of a nearly $2 million initiative which began in 2013 in order to repair parts of NYC parks which were damaged during Hurricane Sandy. The efforts to restore the parks are being led by the city and federal government, and encompass parts of Riverside Park South, Riverside Park and Fort Washington Park.

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While the intent of the city is to maintain or upgrade this section of the greenway, bicyclists fear they won’t be provided with an alternate pathway or another route during the time of construction. Since the Parks Department disseminated the news, advocacy groups feel that the city has not done enough to plan for the closure, and that closing a crucial pathway without any plans for a detour will be disruptive for those who rely on the bicycle path as a mode of transportation.

“Major links in the network cannot simply be suspended because of an event or a construction project without thought given to alternate routes and detours. That obviously requires substantial advance notice and coordination with the cycling communities and other agencies,” Jon Orcutt of Bike New York wrote to Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver, in disagreement with the announcement of the bike path’s closing. This announcement also comes at a time shortly after bicyclists were forced to take an inadequate detour in Riverside Park just last year.

Nearly 3,000 cyclists ride through Riverside Park each day, and without the bike path, will be left looking for a new way to travel. While advocacy groups protest, NYC Parks Department officials contend that the details of the closure are still being finalized, and that the bicyclists who use the path are being taken into consideration. A spokesperson said, “We understand the concerns of cyclists who use the Greenway every day, and we welcome community input as we finalize this plan for necessary safety and infrastructure work.”

According to Former Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe, the pathway is in dangerous conditions, and he doesn’t think there’s an alternative to shutting it down entirely in order to complete the necessary work in one time. Unfortunately, the Riverside bike path is one of the busiest in the city, and its closure seems to necessitate a safe detour. The story is still developing, and a finalized plan is expected to be announced prior to the path’s upcoming closure, scheduled for sometime this spring.

Featured image via Riverside Park Conservancy

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