An Inelegant But Effective Solution

by Don Friedman on November 16, 2017

Following the Halloween driving attack on the bike path along the Hudson River, people immediately started discussing the issue of how to protect the path from vehicles. This is related to the long-standing issue of separating pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorized vehicles on New York’s crowded streets. It is therefore related to the city’s Vision Zero program to eliminate traffic fatalities. It is therefore a long-standing and possible intractable problem.

Design can help, to some degree, with protection. But changing the design of roadways is a years-long process, and the aftermath of the recent attack created a situation where waiting weeks was not politically possible. We therefore have a temporary solution, to provide safety for bicyclists on the bike path from vehicles, consisting of concrete barriers.

The barricades are set close enough to stop normal cars from getting past. Because they are set parallel to the direction of bike traffic they are a bit hard for bicyclists to see, which is why the ends are painted safety orange.

This is really not a great solution. Even with the orange paint, the barricades are something of a hazard, particularly at night. They’re also hideous, looking like a chunk of an interstate highway was plunked down in the middle of a park. They are, in the current circumstances, the best we can do, and will hopefully be replaced with a better permanent solution. However, in the city that gave us the hundred-year-old temporary masonry dome, I suspect those arcades will be there for a while.

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