Citizens' Spark Reconnects Riverside Park
In Riverside Park, on Manhattan's Upper West Side, there's a rather incongruous layout. At 95th St, the access ramp to the Henry Hudson Expressway harshly interrupts the Park's main jogging and walking path. Not exactly what park designer Frederick Law Olmstead had in mind. Doubly offensive, the ramps sit just one block south of another massive set of access ramps.
Not too long ago, the legal pedestrian crossing at 95th street was erased and park users had to cross Riverside Drive to the eastern side of the street, then cross 95th St and then west across Riverside Drive once more. Most people elected to cross illegally, and dangerously, at the mouth of the highway access ramp.
Alarmed at the hazardous condition, a group of residents, including Laura Dwight and Dan Poor, started to petition park users. Then they pushed their elected officials and city agencies with a barrage of letters and calls. As parents of small childen, both Dwight and Poor had one too many "near death experiences at the intersection."
Determined and steadfast, the community activists scored a victory when the Borough President hired a traffic engineer to analyze the site and develop recommendations. In May 1997, the DOT installed north-south crosswalks in the west side of the intersection, put up pedestrian-crossing signs and painted Riverside Drive to reduce the curve. While appreciative, the community is not completely satisfied and plans to fight for a "pedestrian only" signal phase and better signage.