Eyes on the Street: Risking Life and Limb for Greenway Access

Last Friday afternoon my wife and I walked the Hudson River Greenway from Morningside Heights north toward home in Inwood. It was nice and warm out, and after a while we wanted water, so just south of the George Washington Bridge we decided to head over to Broadway, where we could stop for a beverage before catching a train the rest of the way. We exited the Greenway at 165th Street in Washington Heights, a route neither of us had taken before. After crossing the pedestrian bridge over the train tracks and taking a trail under the Henry Hudson Parkway and through the woods, this is what we found.

gway1.jpgThe Greenway trail drops you off at this exit from the Henry Hudson Parkway onto Riverside Drive. There is no signage to indicate a "safe" walking route, no indication to motorists to look out for Greenway users, not even a sidewalk. The picture does not do it justice, but the car traffic here is loud, fast and constant.

gway2.jpgA group of cyclists looking for the Greenway stops, not knowing where to go. As we approached, pedestrians also heading their direction pointed the way.

gway3.jpgThis is how you enter the Greenway from 165th Street.

gway4.jpgI say "from 165th Street" because, though you technically access the Greenway in the vicinity of 173rd Street, you must take Riverside Drive from/to 165th. When leaving the Greenway, once you negotiate the Henry Hudson exit shown above, you encounter this I-95 entrance ramp. There is no crosswalk and no signal light. Amazingly, drivers tend not to observe the "yield to pedestrians" sign.

gway5.jpgThe same interchange as above, looking north. Note how many cars are lined up to take this ramp. In order to cross, we had to wait for a break in the traffic, then make a run for it.

gway6.jpgOnce you reach 165th Street, this is what awaits you. See those drivers turning right? They don’t like to yield to pedestrians either.
gway7.jpgSame intersection, looking west. A cyclist, presumably on her way to the Greenway, pulls herself and her bike out of the way of a turning bus.

My wife and I are relatively healthy adults, and I think it’s safe to say we will not be entering or exiting the Greenway at this spot again. How the city would subject anyone — much less children, the elderly and disabled — to such inhumane conditions defies explanation. Then again, maybe that’s why there’s no signage — the Greenway at this point is as much attractive nuisance as it is public amenity.