New, temp B.P.C. bike path

BY ALINE REYNOLDS  |  Come late 2013, Battery Park City will have a new but temporary bike path, as the city continues work on a permanent route that will eventually line the periphery of Battery Park and connect to the East River waterfront esplanade.

The news was delivered to Community Board 1’s Financial District Committee on Nov. 2, just a day before the City Council passed a law mandating community board notification about forthcoming bike lane installations at least 90 days before the start of construction.

The temporary bike path, which the city Department of Transportation will start building next spring, will take cyclists from Peter Minuit Plaza through parts of historic Battery Park, loop around an eastern portion of the park and eventually connect to the Route 9A bike path.

The bike route will take the place of an interim bike route along State Street, installed in 2004 and subsequently removed due to construction at the Bowling Green subway station, according to Josh Benson, the D.O.T.’s director of pedestrian and bicycle programs who presented the project at the C.B. 1 committee meeting.

Once the subway construction was completed, Benson explained, a section of the sidewalk originally dedicated to bike traffic was eliminated from the riverside bike route.

“The whole area now where the bike route is, will no longer be available because of the construction of the permanent perimeter [bike] path [led by the City Department of Parks and Recreation],” said Benson. “What we’re looking to do now, as part of the construction project the D.P.R. will be handling next year, is actually to come in before the construction project.”

The D.O.T. has worked with the Parks Department to determine navigable park paths surrounding the construction zone, according to Benson, and plans to install biker-friendly pavement markings and signs along the route, in addition to signage protecting pedestrians.

The permanent bike path, part of Lower Manhattan’s larger greenway project espoused by NY State Senator Daniel Squadron and others, will purportedly not enter the park, but just line the periphery, and will connect the Hudson River greenway to the East River waterfront esplanade.

“There was a lack of understanding of how cyclists were to get from the East River bikeway to the Hudson River greenway,” said Benson. “Earlier this year, signs were reintroduced to navigate cyclists along that route.”

Committee chair Ro Sheffe applauded the plan and said, “I think anything that encourages human-powered vehicles, as opposed to fossil fueled burning vehicles, is a good thing,” said Sheffe.

The proposal, Sheffe continued, “strikes a good balance between providing a throughfare for responsible cyclists and the need to preserve the beauty of Battery Park.”