By Leslie Albrecht
UPPER WEST SIDE — A dark bike path that runs beneath an elevated stretch of the West Side Highway is on track to get lighting — but officials don't know exactly when.
Riverside Park administrator John Herrold told Community Board 7's parks committee this week that the Parks Department wants to install lights along the bike path that runs through Riverside Park South from West 59th to 72nd Street.
Herrold said he didn't know how much the lighting would cost, where the money for the project would come from, and — most importantly — when the lights might go up.
The Parks Department will first have to coordinate with the Department of Transportation as well as a contractor, Herrold said.
The new lights will be posted on the concrete columns that support the elevated West Side Highway, which runs directly above the bike path, Herrold said. The path runs next to the Hudson River in front of the Riverside South highrise complex.
Lighting would be a welcome change for cyclists like Beth Oram, a 57-year-old nurse who uses the path almost every day to commute to work from the Upper West Side to Chelsea.
When she works late in the winter, she doesn't bike home, Oram said, because she doesn't feel safe on the path. The lack of lighting makes it hard to see hazards, and she worries about people lurking alongside the path.
Oram said she was "delighted" to hear that lighting could be installed, and pointed out that other commuters have a reason to support the project, too.
"Every time I take that path home, it's one less person crowding onto the subway," Oram said. "If they want to encourage people to use it, they should do everything they can to keep it safe."
Community Board 7 parks committee co-chair Elizabeth Starkey urged officials to move quickly, noting that the committee discussed the lighting problem a year ago.
"We've had so many people tell us how dangerous it is," said Starkey. "We don't want another summer of very increased bicycle traffic that doesn't have the lighting we need."