Riding in NYC Parks

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Anonymous's picture

"I have ridden my bike daily for the last six years in Inwood Park in N. Manhattan without problem. Considering the things that go on in this park you'd think that riding a bike would be viewed as an innocuous activity. Lo and behold two days ago I was told by a ""first day on the job"" Parks & Recreation ""Park Monitor"" that bike riding was not allowed in the park.

A Park Ranger confirmed this to me. This shocked me considering that biking is my central to my exercise and tennis conditioning program. I do not feel safe riding on the streets (not to mention the pollution) even on bike paths on the road and find it ridiculous that one cannot bike in the park, especially since Park's dept. motor vehicles drive about all the time and pose a hazard and pollute the air.

I would like to initiate a protest bike event in Inwood Park and advocate for marked bike paths in the park.

Question to any legal eagles out there, if a law is virtually never (if ever) enforced does it become obsolete or unenforceable by default? The Ranger told me they are understaffed and have other things to do and probably would only issue a summons if a park goer filed a complaint. This has yet to happen and numerous people bike and blade and do other ""dangerous"" things in the park without being cited.

Anyway, if anyone is interested in supporting this matter or commenting please do!



Anonymous's picture
Isaac Brumer (not verified)

Roland, I understand your hesitation to riding in traffic and breathing exhaust and resentment to being barred from riding in Inwood Park. I'd like to offer 2 suggestions:

- Ride with a group. Check out the group rides that the NYCC and 5BBC.org have to offer. They normally pick relatively quiet, safe and scenic routes. Rides are open to all.

- Get active. Transportation Alternatives TransAlt.org is NYC's leading local bicycle advocacy. Its professional staff has years of experience in advancing the rights of cyclists and building coalitions for a more livable city. Please join them.

Happy riding.

Anonymous's picture
Patricia Janof (not verified)
bikes in NYC parks

Why not contact Transportation Alternatives about this issue? They are NYC-based and have been very effective in lobbying for increased rights for cyclists. Tel. 212-629-8080, email [email protected], web site www.transalt.org.

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous lawyer (not verified)
The odds are good

Laws don't lapse for want of enforcement, and now you've been warned. Still, six years and one warning is pretty good odds. Sounds like the Park Ranger was telling you not to worry too much. In the same way that a lot of us run red lights (whenever possible and sometimes carefully), it might make sense to maintain a low profile on the issue and keep riding. The likelihood of an immediate cure via political action is pretty slight, and there are policy reasons (not necessarily sympathetic to cycling values) in favor of restricting the paths and the unpaved terrain to pedestrians. The bicycling speed limit on the roads in Central Park is purportedly 15 mph, but so long as cyclists don't do anything noticeably stupid affecting pedestrians, that restriction is ignored. Stay away from that rookie.

Anonymous's picture
Steve Baron (not verified)
Copy of note to Carlstadt: Riding across Central Park, my story

"Just to put in my 2 cents. We moved to New Mexico, after 100 years
between wife and self, in Manhattan, where we lived less than a mile
from Central Park. For some years I took drawing classes on East 89th
while we lived at 68th and West End. Great bike ride, short and easy,
as long as I rode on the sidewalks crossing the park.

Note that I also biked to work at 23rd and Madison for most of my adult
life, and while I was occasionally doored by a taxi or cut off, I
survived without a trip to the hospital. And enjoyed the ride,
especially when the West Side bike route was open. And of course, the
ride across CP was like one of Ripley's 10 great wonders of the world.

But those last few years, going to class, my choices were (aside from
public transportation) ride on the walks in CP going W to E, or ride
the wrong way on 72nd street, which felt VERY dangerous; or worse yet,
take the 79th or 86th street cross town routes, with the cars and
busses and potholes. There were stenciled signs on the park walks: No
Bike Riding.

Finally I was ticketed by a new officer from the Park Precinct. It was
a very cold day in January, and the park was empty, but he told me that
some buggy pushers had complained about cyclists. He told me that I
wouldn't have to pay, but he didn't really understand. A month later I
went to ""court"" somewhere near Broadway and Canal, stood in line for
almost an hour, and eventually got into the courtroom, and some three
hours after leaving home, was next in line, behind an also retired
gentleman, who pleaded with the magistrate (not a judge) not to fine
him for an infraction of the law like mine. The fine was $75, with a
surcharge of $50; he promised the magistrate he'd never do it again,
that he couldn't afford the fine, living on Social Security, etc. And
he was sent home with a warning. The direction had been set, and my
case, pleading, and result was much the same.

From that time on, I rotated between riding against traffic crossing
the park on 72nd street, taking the cross town routes, using public
transportation and sometimes walking.

I remember September 11, 2001, when I was in the office early, on 23rd
Street. By 10:00 we closed, and I chose to ride home instead of in the
direction of the WTC. Later I learned that the bridges were shut down
so we couldn't leave Manhattan.

Three years and one month later we left New York.

Anonymous's picture
Evan Marks (not verified)
west to east across the park

Didn't you ever enter the park by Tavern on the Green and follow the lower loop around to 72nd & 5th? Yeah, it adds ~1.25mi but IMO seems preferable to any of the options you mention.

Anonymous's picture
Joe Kubera (not verified)
Bike riding in NYC parks

"I got a ticket a few years ago for riding my bike through my local park. It is really only a 19th century ""village green,"" but is technically a park (Tappen Park in Staten Island). Like Inwood, bike riding is the most innocuous activity that goes on there!

I was spotted by a roving cop in a police van and given a ticket. Ridiculous.

Joe Kubera"

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