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August 26, 2007


Thank you, Beng, for your very kind words about WALKING IS TRANSPORTATION. I especially appreciated your thoughts about maintaining safety and avoiding mishaps of varying types
--including fatalities--on the increasingly popular Hudson River Greenway. It's a relief to know I'm not the only ambulatory scold patrolling the walkways and bikeways.

I live in Manhattan and ride my bike to and from work (which is actually in Brooklyn) and walk most of the other times I'm getting around the city so I really appreciate your blog. I'm especially grateful to you - as a walker - for noting the importance of pedestrians' awareness of their responsibilities on the Hudson River Greenway. Great portions of the greenway do indeed have separate walking/jogging lanes and riding/rollerblading lanes. Unfortunately most joggers ignore the signs (and, yes, there could be more of them and they could be clearer) that direct them to jog with the pedestrians and leave the bike lane for the bikes and rollerbladers. Many of these joggers have an odd habit of jogging right on top of the yellow lines dividing the bike lane which makes it difficult to pass slower bikes (and especially challenging to pass the bikers who ride side by side rather than one behind the other). When the Hudson River Greenway becomes a 'shared lane' of bikes, rollerbladers, joggers, and walkers (not to mention pedicabs and the occasional parks car/truck/suv) there is even less signage and the signs that are up only say 'shared lane, stay to the right.' Pedestrians (and I'm one myself when I'm not going a long distance) need to understand that the 'stay to the right' imperative absolutely applies to them. Walking hand in hand with a spouse and child or two spread out across the lane is very dangerous when the pathway is shared with bikes, rollerbladers, joggers, pedicabs and the occasional parks vehicle. Large groups of pedestrians simply need to 'share the pathway' which means staying, at most, two abreast.

It's frustrating for avid bicyclists because the much heralded Greenway which was supposed to give us a safe place to ride up and down (and eventually completely around) Manhattan has instead become a promenade for an ever growing number of pedestrians. Riverside Park South and much of the renovated or newly created piers along the Hudson are hardly parks at all and their commercial enterprises (which include more and more alcoholic beverage sales) attract a wider variety of people on the paths. Even private cars have been known to use the bike path (one actually killing a bicyclist).

Speaking of crowds, I only ride on the Brooklyn bridge if my other stops make it absolutely necessary to and from work. It is MUCH too crowded with pedestrians. The real problem there, of course, are the tourists who feel compelled to stand IN the bike lane posing for and taking photos. I prefer the Manhattan Bridge because the bikes and pedestrians are completely separated. There are always a few stragglers walking along the uptown side of the bridge on the bike path rather than on the downtown side where there is a separate foot path. But their numbers are small and hopefully decreasing.

Thanks again for your great blog and may all of us - bicyclists, pedestrians, etc. - enjoy these paths safely.


Thank you. I did see that. The Manhattan Bridge's design has it right. The uptown side is bicycles only and the downtown side is pedestrian only. We were sharing the downtown side up until about a month ago while the uptown side was closed. Now we each have our own side again. Unfortunately the DOT has not seen fit to provide any signs to remind us of the dedicated sides. I know last Friday there were still plenty of bikes on the pedestrian walkway.

Ace: I thought you might be interested in the following quote from today's STREETSBLOG, in an article on the redesign of the Manhattan Bridge approach (Manhattan side):

"The DOT's plan will separate bike and pedestrian flows with a fence and provide a one block physically-separated bike path (with bicycle traffic signals) on Canal St."

Thanks, Ace, for your comments.

Yes, I agree that 'Look to see who's coming, before entering another lane' sounds like Driver's Ed. But the other two seem applicable to any crowded walking situation--just plain being conscious of the rights of others who occupy the same space.

Like you, I find the mix of biped and wheeled transport on walkways and greenways a big problem--and not just for walkers. Again and again--usually, but not exclusively on the Hudson River Park walkways--I see walkers in groups, usually 2 or 3 but sometimes more, sprawled across both north- and southbound "lanes." As a result, cyclists have to maneuver around these walkers (not always an easy thing to do safely, particularly if the walkers change position suddenly, as they often do).

Personally, I'd love a dedicated walker's space, but not if it means that cyclists have to share the road with motorized vehicles. I've tried to bike in Manhattan; without a dedicated cyclists' lane, preferably
physically separated from auto lanes, it's a terrifying experience.

Though I know it's probably very far afield for you and most readers of this blog, I heartily recommend you try out the walkway on the Bayonne Bridge; I've never seen a bike on it. But what's not-to-miss is the view from the center over the Kill van Kull. It's sweeping and breathtaking both, and when you're the only person up there, except of course for the passing cars, the feeling of dominion over the waterway is extraordinary.

I know I'll be called a philistine for saying this, but I walk the Brooklyn Bridge to get to downtown Brooklyn--not because I love the walk. It's too crowded and too filled with problems of the kind we've been discussing. The Manhattan Bridge is calmer, saner, and the view on the Brooklyn side--of Fulton Ferry Park--is far nicer, IMO, than what you see coming off the Brooklyn Bridge. But the Bayonne Bridge--rather beautiful from a distance, in an Erector-set sort of way--is IMO the best.

--Look to see who's coming, before entering another lane
--Look to see who's behind you, before stopping
--Walking two and three abreast on a crowded walkway is inconsiderate; it can even be dangerous

All of the above sound like instructions to operators of vehicles. Pedestrians should not be subjected to the same criteria. Get the bicycles off the bridge's walk-way and none of the above would apply.

I walked across the Brooklyn Bridge yesterday around 04:30pm. Here is my conclusion: Bicycles are vehicles and belong in the street with all the other vehicles.

Be it the Brooklyn Bridge, The Manhattan Bride, The walkway along the Hudson, Central Park, Prospect Park -don't pedestrian's deserve a walkway where we can walk without having to be constantly aware that one false move could result in great physical injury?

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