At its Tuesday meeting, Community Board 1 (CB1) enacted a resolution endorsing a consensus view of how to manage bicycle traffic along Battery Park City’s Esplanade and Greenway (the path that parallels West Street). This joint vision was the product of a year-long collaboration between members of CB1 and officials from the Battery Park City Authority (BPCA), along with other community leaders and government agencies, and cycling advocates.
Empaneled as the Bicycle Working Group, this committee began meeting last November, and gathered on a quarterly basis through this summer. It was created, in part, to address mounting safety concerns as the number of cyclists and pedestrians using Battery Park City’s public spaces have both increased in recent years.
The resolution calls for multiple steps to be implemented by the BPCA, in some cases in partnership with the City Department of Transportation (which oversees bikes paths throughout the five boroughs) and the State’s Department of Transportation (which has jurisdiction over the Greenway along West Street).
Among these steps are the relocation of the Citibike station now situated at Liberty Street and South End Avenue to the sidewalk plaza at Liberty Street and West Street, closer to the Greenway. The larger open space at this location will allow for the bike-sharing station to be expanded, as needed.
The resolution also calls for new or enhanced signage along the Esplanade and the Greenway, to raise awareness among both cyclists and pedestrians as to which spaces are set aside for each group, and which are shared. Another plank requests that existing, carved images in the pavement (which serve as directional indicators for cyclists) be filled in with material that is brighter or more reflective, to increase their visibility.
The measure additionally calls for new signs at multiple intersection along the Esplanade to encourage (but not require) cyclists to divert to the Greenway, as well as measures to heighten both the safety and the visibility of existing bike lane on Vesey Street.
CB1 is further requesting that the City’s Department of Transportation incorporate some of these features into future editions of its New York City Bike Map.
One point on which consensus has not yet emerged is the fate of the Citibike station on West Thames Street, which some members of the Bicycle Working Group have suggested moving closer the West Street, possibly on an expanded sidewalk that could be created by absorbing some of the parking lanes where the street widens (between West Street and Battery Place). The resolution notes that, “further working group meetings will review the West Thames intersection and the location of that Citibike station after the West Thames Bridge is completed.” (This is a reference to the pedestrian span that will cross West Street and connect Battery Park City with the Financial District, and is scheduled for completion in late 2018.)
In a related development, the collaboration between the BPCA and CB1 on the issue of bike safety may mark a return to the model of partnership between community leaders and the government agency that oversees the 92 acres of landfill between West Street and the Hudson River. If this experiment is deemed successful, it could augur a willingness on the part of the Authority for community leaders to play a more robust role in similar — but more consequential — decisions about the neighborhood’s future, on issues such as storm resiliency and infrastructure redesign.