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East River Greenway Initiative

The East River Greenway, a segment of the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway, is a shared pedestrian and bicycle path that runs along the East Side of Manhattan from the Battery to East Harlem with a 1.2 mile gap from East 37th to East 60th streets in Midtown.

At the gap, pedestrians and cyclists are directed to an inland detour on highly trafficked and dangerous First and Second Avenues. Portions of the existing Greenway are narrow and unsafe due to sinkholes being blocked off by protective fencing, and one part squeezes between the FDR and a Con Ed ship dock, requiring caution and slower speeds. Other parts are shared space with vehicles access alongside Waterside Plaza or a filling station.

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Though the gap is relatively small (1.2 miles) as compared with the overall length of the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway (32 miles), representing just 3.75% of the total Greenway, its presence has a enormous impact on the Greenway’s overall use and the communities of Manhattan’s East Side.

The location of the gap is significant because the detours force users onto the highly congested and dangerous avenues of Midtown.  Because of these dangerous detours, many people forgo using the East River Greenway altogether. New York City’s own Department of City Planning Manhattan Waterfront Greenway Master Plan of 2004 stated that:

First and Second avenues have both been signed, but neither is appropriate for inexperienced riders.  Overall, both streets are busy and should be used only with extreme caution.

In fact, the area covered by the Greenway detours has long had high numbers of crashes along both avenues according to CrashStat 2.0, making the detours some of most dangerous and unsafe spots for both cyclists and pedestrians in the entire City.

Closing the gap would not only alleviate this glaring safety issue by providing a safe off-road path for pedestrians and cyclists but the completed Greenway would also provide the backbone for a sustainable transportation network helping to foster a growing population of commuters both North and South of the gap. Since its completion, residents from East Harlem to Murray Hill have looked west with jealousy as Husdon River Park and the Hudson River Greenway provide much needed park amenities to West Side residents. The Hudson River Greenway is also responsible for spurring the amazing rise in NYC cycling commuters over the past few years.  Closing the gap on the East Side would give the communities of East Midtown, already over-developed and containing the least amount of open-space in the Manhattan, much needed and much desired waterfront access and parkland.

The East River Greenway Initiative seeks to develop and maintain the political, public, civic, and government partnerships necessary to close the 1.2 mile gap from East 37th Street to East 61st Street of the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway.

Stay tuned as we bring you updates on the effort to Close the Gap!

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