Whitney on track

Volume 76, Number 28 | December 6 – 12, 2006


Bike path terror

One would think bike paths are safer than city streets for bicycles. And one would hope a bike path that’s clearly separated from the street by a planted median with a low wall, such as the Hudson River Park path, would be even safer. But, tragically, just within the last five months, there have been two bicyclists killed on the Hudson River bike path.

The first death, of Dr. Carl Nacht in June after he was struck on the path at W. 36th St. by a tow truck from the Police Department tow pound, highlighted one problem with the path — that it’s not a bona fide greenway, since it’s intersected at numerous points by crossing car traffic.

When Eric Ng, 22, died last Friday, however, in a collision with a driver speeding down the Hudson River bike path after drinking at an office party at Chelsea Piers, it cast a spotlight on another extremely dangerous condition: The fact that cars can — and do — drive onto the bike path. And, according to reports, cars are doing so more frequently.

Getting municipal uses to quickly leave the waterfront isn’t easy, as can be seen by the Sanitation garage on Gansevoort Peninsula. But now the waterfront is being reclaimed for parks and greenways and, for bikers at least, this dynamic is causing a dangerous conflict.

Raising new fears is what happened to Ng. We’re glad to hear the Hudson River Park Trust is working with other agencies and Transportation Alternatives to find some immediate solutions so that cars don’t ever get on this bike path again.

For certain, more markings and signage are needed. And perhaps some new barrier system should be used other than the bend-down yellow bollards located currently only at a few spots on the path. With more commercial uses planned for the waterfront at Pier 57 and possibly Pier 40 — bringing more drivers, attending more parties and functions where alcohol will be served — this serious situation must be addressed, quickly.

Death of an activist

The death of Marcia Lemmon, Ludlow St. Block Association president and former Community Board 3 member, was truly saddening. She was only 48 and could have lived a full and longer life, but her health issues ultimately prevented it.

Lemmon was one of the first to raise the cry of bar oversaturation on the Lower East Side. For doing that and being a hardheaded fighter, she wasn’t universally adored. Whatever one thought of her, however, one had to acknowledge Lemmon wanted to improve her neighborhood. This could be seen from her concern for local businesses to her involvement on C.B. 3.

Lemmon was an outspoken critic of the State Liquor Authority, and it’s no stretch of the imagination to believe that her efforts helped, in part, to spur the S.L.A. reform we’re seeing today. She wasn’t perfect. But she was a committed community activist. And she knew how to make a difference — and she did.