04 July 2005

Happy 4th of July

I walked up to 155th Street today, up the Hudson River path, and down on Broadway. In the last few years, the river path has gotten a lot more accessible, which is great. It's easy to forget that Manhattan is surrounded by water, so cut off from it are we by Robert Moses's highway plan.

The path is a little erratic, though. From 80th to 91st, for instance, bicyclists have to detour into Riverside Park, because the "path" at that point, is just a roughed up section of dirt and cracked concrete about 18 inches wide. Two walkers or runners can barely pass each other. At other points, there's a green line dividing the path into two unequal parts. There's a sign that indicates that runners and walkers are supposed to stay on the smaller side, closest to the water, while bicyclists and rollerbladers should be on the larger, inland side.

There are a few things wrong with this. It's confusing, from both a consistency and rules-of-the-road perspective. Why this section of the path, and not others? Anyone who has driven a car knows that slower traffic stays to the right; you pass on the left. And if you miss the sign, you'll still be following that rule and running into those of us who saw the sign and paid attention to it.

It's the bicyclists who seem to disregard the sign the most, which makes sense. They've ridden past it faster, and they, being on a vehicle, are most used to following the rules of the road. But since I always follow instructions, I'm on the side of the path I'm supposed to be on. At least once a walk, more if it's on a Saturday afternoon, a bicyclist will pass me shouting angrily, "you're on the wrong side!"

They're a half mile down the path before I can shout back, "no I'm not! read the sign!"


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