New Plan to Get Bikes (Voluntarily) Off the Battery Park City Esplanade

A bicycle working group is proposing signage that would direct bike riders like this one off the Battery Park City esplanade and onto the bike path along West Street. Photo: Carl Glassman/Tribeca Trib

Aug. 08, 2017

Cyclists will be getting a gentle nudge off the Battery Park City esplanade.

The Battery Park City Authority is hoping that some strategically placed signs will convince bike riders using the pedestrian-heavy riverside promenade that the bikeway along West Street offers a path of least resistance that's easier, faster and more direct when riding north and south.

The signs along the esplanade, yet to be designed as part of a general reworking the neighborhood's signage, would direct riders to the West Street bike path.

The signage initiative, still in draft form, was presented last month to Community Board 1 and grew out of a bicycle working group made up of representatives from the authority and the community board, with input from the city Department of Transportation, cycling advocates, and others.

With the end of construction last year in front of Brookfield Place and the reopening of the bikeway-walkway there, the authority decided that cyclists, who can pose a risk to pedestrians, had less need to ride on the esplanade. The working group was formed to figure out what to do about them.   

“The thinking was that now that this [bike path] has opened up," said Nick Sbornone, the BPCA’s communications and public affairs director, "…perhaps there is a way to reassess some of the traffic that's been in and around Battery Park City, not naturally but as a detour.”

"We want to push riders off the esplanade if we can," said Justine Cuccia, a public member of CB1 who is in the working group.

At first, the authority had considered the option of banning bikes on the esplanade. “We dismissed that very quickly out of hand, and rightly so,” Sbordone said. “We didn’t want the idea of not having bikes on the esplanade at all. “

Vesey, Liberty, Albany and West Thames streets are the proposed routes off the esplanade and onto the bikeway, with signs along the way pointing cyclists towards those eastbound streets. In addition, there would be signs to tell cyclists to slow down and yield to pedestrians.

The authority is also proposing to move a Citi Bike station at 200 Liberty Street, at the north end of South End Avenue. It's a location, they say, that invites riders to head west in the direction of the esplanade and the river. A suggested alternate location is farther east on Liberty, near the bikeway.

The authority also hopes to solve a safety problem along the West Street bikeway, where pedestrians and fast-moving cyclists come perilously close to merging at several corners. The bike path is demarcated by two strips of dark grey pavement with barely visible cyclist icons. The problem is especially acute at Liberty and West, where many tourists cross to and from the World Trade Center, or stand in the path of bikes to take pictures.

"A lot of pedestrians linger there and they don't realize that they're standing in the middle of a bikeway," said Joe Ganci, the authority's design director. "The bikeway has a green light and the pedestrians are waiting for their crossing signal." The authority's proposed solution, which requires state Department of Transportation approval, is to create markings that are much more visible.

The wording and design of the new signs are yet to be worked out with consultants. CB1 will review the proposed plan again in September before voting on its approval.