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Hudson River Greenway Crossings 'A Disaster Waiting to Happen,' Group Says

By Maya Rajamani | January 17, 2017 4:30pm
 A cyclist travels south at the intersection of the Hudson River Greenway and West 40th Street.
A cyclist travels south at the intersection of the Hudson River Greenway and West 40th Street.
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DNAinfo/Maya Rajamani

HELL’S KITCHEN — Pedestrians and cyclists traveling along the Hudson River Greenway regularly face “near-death experiences” at crossings along the route, advocates say.

Traffic signals at six intersections along the pathway — including those at West 30th and 40th streets — currently allow vehicles on the West Side Highway to turn right into the Hudson River Park while pedestrians and cyclists have a green light.

Now, the pedestrian-safety advocacy group CHEKPEDS wants the city to bar right turns at those intersections until the lights for Greenway users turn red.

“There are already too many ghost bikes lining the Greenway path to honor the fallen cyclists,” CHEKPEDS wrote in a letter to the Hudson River Park Trust seeking support for the measure. “We ask that HRPT act on this dangerous situation immediately, before another senseless injury or fatality occurs.”

The letter was also sent to the city's Department of Transportation, which has jurisdiction over the traffic signals, according to a spokesman for HRPT.

It pinpoints the intersections at West 15th, 29th, 30th, 38th, 40th and 43rd streets as “dangerous” crossings along the Greenway.

CHEKPEDS board member Chana Widawski on Tuesday called the current traffic configurations at those intersections “illogical.”

“We should always be paying attention. But when there’s a green light, you think you’re good to go," said Widawski, who regularly bikes along the Hell’s Kitchen section of the Greenway.

“I’m a conscious biker… but there are very fast-moving cars that barely take the time to slow down,” she added.

Widawski said she recently witnessed a near-crash between two cyclists, after one of them had to stop suddenly to avoid a car turning into the park.

CHEKPEDS founder Christine Berthet, meanwhile, cited a recent fatality in Battery Park City as the impetus for the letter.

A 30-year-old woman was riding her bike along the Greenway when she was hit by a driver turning right off the West Side Highway onto Chambers Street, Downtown Express reported.

“We know for a fact that because of their designs there are going to be dangers,” Berthet said of the intersections identified in the letter to HRPT. “It’s just a disaster waiting to happen.”

HRPT's spokesman on Tuesday said the trust "take[s] biker and pedestrian safety very seriously, and work[s] closely with [its] colleagues in city and state government to make sure they are aware of all road and bikeway safety concerns in the park."

The DOT didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.