CB12 Committee Okays Safe Greenway Connection For Wash. Heights Cyclists

Upper Manhattan cyclists will finally have a safe way to exit the Hudson River Greenway at 181st Street under a plan presented by the Department of Transportation and approved by Community Board 12’s transportation committee last night.

The current configuration of this block of Riverside Drive, which feeds directly onto the Henry Hudson Parkway, makes it impossible to legally bike from the west side greenway (accessible via the overpass at the top of this image) onto local roads. Under a plan approved by CB 12's transportation committee, it will be converted to a two-way street. Image: Google Maps

Right now, Riverside Drive north of 181st Street runs one-way and quickly becomes an on-ramp to the Henry Hudson Parkway. The only entrance to the Hudson River Greenway in the area is on that block, meaning cyclists exiting the much-used path must either illegally ride against the highway-bound traffic or dismount and walk south along the sidewalk. At the same time, drivers parked on that block often drive in reverse to 181st Street rather than go forward onto the highway. That’s created unsafe conditions which local activists have fought hard to fix.

The new configuration would change the section of Riverside before it becomes a true on-ramp into a two-way street with shared bike lane markings, reported Bike Upper Manhattan member Brad Conover, who attended last night’s meeting. Parking would be removed from the west side of the street, a fact which the community board grudgingly accepted, noting in its resolution that it would like to find replacement parking elsewhere.

“Bike Upper Manhattan applauds CB-12 Traffic and Transportation Committee’s resolution last night endorsing DOT’s plan to correct one of the most glaringly unsafe street designs in Washington Heights,” said Conover. “Cyclists exiting the Westside Greenway at 181st no longer will be dumped into oncoming one way traffic.”

In the long-term, DOT told the community board, a redesign of the park could provide cyclists with a ramp that connects directly onto 181st Street. Those changes would be years away at the earliest, however. In the meantime, the changes will help connect Washington Heights to the country’s most-used bike path.