By Julie Shapiro
LOWER MANHATTAN — Residents are calling on the city to close the bike path through City Hall Park after near misses between cyclists and pedestrians.
"People come flying in and out of that park, and it’s dangerous," said Paul Hovitz, a longtime downtown resident who was nearly hit by a cyclist one evening this fall.
At Hovitz’s urging, Community Board 1’s Youth and Education Committee passed a resolution Tuesday night urging the city to reroute the bikes elsewhere.
"We want a bike path — we just don’t want people riding through City Hall Park," said Peter Braus, a parent at the Spruce Street School, which is located next to the park in the Tweed Courthouse.
Spruce parents have been particularly upset about the bike path, which Braus called "idiotic," because they fear children could be injured by speeding bikes.
To complicate matters, the shared bike and walking path has recently been narrowed because of construction at City Hall. Wherever the path is narrowed, the city has posted "Cyclist Please Dismount" signs, but many cyclists ignore them.
A Department of Transportation spokeswoman said the agency would not reexamine the bike path until the spring.
Hovitz said that response was "unsatisfactory," and he wants to see changes sooner.
Cyclists and bike advocates said they would strongly object to the removal of the City Hall Park bike path.
"It’s the only safe way to get over from the west side," said Mike Epstein, 32, who lives in Brooklyn and commutes by bike to his computer programming job in Chelsea.
Epstein said he walks his bike through the park if it’s crowded, but otherwise he just rides through slowly.
The city installed the bike path in 2008 to connect the Hudson River Greenway to the Brooklyn Bridge, via Warren Street, and it quickly became a popular commuting route.
"It would be impossible to remove a piece of that network," said Caroline Samponaro, director of bicycle advocacy for Transportation Alternatives. "You need that connection."
Residents previously suggested that the bike path move to Chambers Street, but cyclists say Chambers is too narrow and congested with cars, plus it’s also under construction for the next three years.
Samponaro suggested that the city install signs urging bikers to "ride at a walking speed."
Many cyclists ignore the dismount signs but would be more likely to follow a more realistic proviso, she said.
Community Board 1’s Seaport/Civic Center Committee will consider the City Hall Park resolution Wednesday night, and the full board will vote on it Thursday night.