Sunday, September 14, 2008

East Coast Greenway Ride

This morning Hubby and I met up with a group of bicyclists. The plan was to ride south along the shore of the Hudson from the George Washington Bridge to Hoboken, take the ferry to Manhattan and ride north along the west side bike path in New York City and cross back into NJ on the G W Bridge. These routes are part of the East Coast Greenway.

About 30 people showed up, with a wide variety of bicycles including three or four tandems and a recumbent. We set off shortly after 8 AM. The leaders were very knowledgeable which was important. Only some sections of the off road path are complete and we would ride for a mile or two along the river and then have to ride on the street for a bit. The leaders controlled car traffic when we were out on the road and knew just when to rejoin the bike path.

The participants were primarily from New York, New Jersey and surrounding areas, but there was also a couple from Belgium who happened to be visiting. There is considerable interest in the East Coast Greenway which will ultimately be an off road walking and biking trail that stretches from Calais, Maine to Key West, Florida. Many sections are complete, but there are also many miles currently on public roads. This ride was intended to build enthusiasm and support (volunteer and monetary) to close the gaps.

All new development on the riverbank is required to provide a thirty foot wide buffer to allow public access to the river. Each development has interpreted this differently and there are many different paving styles along the way. The real challenge will be to insure that the various developments continue to maintain the pathway. Already there are some spots that need a bit of work.

Once we crossed the Hudson, we joined the bicycle path that goes up the west side of Manhattan from the Battery to the George Washington Bridge. This is a beautifully maintained path although like any amenity in NYC, it's heavily used and some care was necessary when passing or being passed.

We made a brief stop at the Little Red Lighthouse under the bridge and then began the arduous task of climbing from the river bank to the level of the bridge. Many of us found it necessary to push our bikes part of the way but we all made it. I found the trip across the bridge a bit nerve wracking because the walkway is rather narrow and it's two way. There were many bikers coming from NJ and some of them were riding rather fast. At some points the trail snakes around the bridge supports making sharp turns in narrow spaces.

Soon we were on the other side and heading back to the park where we left our cars. Following the ride, most of us repaired to T.J.'s Steak Pit in Fort Lee where we enjoyed a lunch together.

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