By Leslie Albrecht
UPPER WEST SIDE — A city bike map has listed Riverside Park's West 72nd Street path as an official cycling route for years, but now a Parks Department official says the path was included on the map in error.
Cyclists flock to the path because it's marked with a green line on the NYC Cycling Map, meaning that it's a "Class 1" bike route that is physically separated from street traffic.
Recently, the path has become so crowded that yelling matches have broken out between cyclists and pedestrians.
In an effort to ease conflicts, the city recently posted signs telling cyclists to get off their bikes when they're on the path. That move angered cyclists, who say that for years they've been encouraged to use the path by the city's official bike map.
But Riverside Park administrator John Herrold told Community Board 7 members this week that the path was included on the map by "mistake."
"Cycling is in fact illegal on any park path," Herrold said.
Cyclist Steve Vaccaro said he was "dumbfounded" when he heard Herrold's comments.
"There was every indication that this was a formally recognized part of the Greenway," Vaccaro said, referencing the popular bike route that runs alongside the Hudson River and which is accessed directly by the West 72nd Street path.
Vaccaro added that the map is widely distributed throughout the city at bike shops and schools.
Even if the path appears on the map by mistake, putting up signs asking cyclists to dismount isn't the way to solve the problem, Vaccaro said.
He and other cyclists say they weren't consulted about the dismount signs. They say they're being punished for the actions of a few reckless cyclists who race by pedestrians and cause problems.
Cyclists want the city to take down the dismount signs. They say it's not fair to make cyclists dismount when the path is considered an official bike route.
But Herrold said in an e-mailed statement Thursday that dismounting is a safe solution that allows everyone — cyclists, strollers, dog walkers — to enjoy the park.
"The volume of pedestrians and cyclists using this path has vastly increased over the past decade," Herrold said. "This otherwise welcome increase in park usership has unfortunately created public safety concerns along the 72nd Street entry corridor that we are trying to address."
He added, "We look forward to working with the community as we seek the best possible solution. In the meantime, bike riders should dismount and walk their bikes the very short distance along the pedestrian path from Riverside Drive to the Greenway, to ensure the safe use of the path by other park visitors."