By Keysha Whitaker
Just in time for summer, the final section of the Riverwalk pedestrian and bicycle path that runs through Riverside Park opened after a nearly three-year renovation.
The new construction includes a 1,000-foot-long, pile-supported platform that runs parallel to the Henry Hudson Parkway, from West 83rd to 91st streets. Now it’s possible to run, walk or bike from Dyckman Street in Inwood to Battery Park without interruption.
Cristina DeLuca, a spokesperson for the Parks Department, said funding for the $15.7 million project came from the mayor’s office, Council Member Gale Brewer and a grant for enhancements to bicycle and pedestrian paths under the Federal Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act.
Riverside Park is a New York City park partly funded by the non-profit The Riverside Park Fund, which raises money for events and maintenance, but not construction projects.
“It’s a great, free way to get really good views of the Hudson River, but New Yorkers in-the-know, especially ones that live on the Upper West Side, use the greenways to get to work,” DeLuca said.
Though a continuous waterfront path has been long awaited, not everyone seemed to love the new design. Upper West Sider Diane Palmer said she thought it was too narrow.
“It’s not wide enough. It makes me nervous,” said Palmer, trying to remain in the 2-foot space allotted for walking on either side of the path, while bicyclists whizzed by. “It’s good for bicycles and joggers. [The path at] 73rd is better because it splits for walkers.”
The new walk, at around 10 feet wide, is narrower than the span from West 72nd to 83rd streets, which is about 21 feet wide.
Parks spokesperson DeLuca said that structural limitations probably prevented the department from making the new section wider.
“I’m assuming that the conditions of the river probably only allowed us to go this far,” DeLuca said. “It’s hard to make it uniform because of the pile construction.”
But Jack Shama, another Upper West Sider, was pleased with the final section of Riverwalk.
“I love the stone outside,” he said, referencing the granite retaining wall that separates the walk from the highway. Shama said he has run the completed greenway from the George Washington Bridge to Battery Park.
“Once you get to West Side Highway, it’s a little difficult because of tourists and traffic,” he said. “This is definitely the nicest leg of the run.”
DeLuca speculates that the greenways are mostly popular with residents, but are tourist attractions as well. Indeed, tourist Christina Bolm of Germany was biking on the greenway on a recent afternoon. She noticed it during a boat ride.
“I saw the bike tours but didn’t want to pay, so we rented a bicycle,” Bolm said. “It’s great; I haven’t had any problems [with overcrowding]. It’s a real difference than in my country. Usually if we have a path with bikes and walkers, there are often fights.”