April 18, 2006--Alright already, stop opening and closing this important cycling road! That's what your message should read to Jim Hall, supervisor of the New Jersey Palisades Interstate Park. Not only are we getting tired of reporting about it, but riders are getting tired of thinking it's opened only to find it's closed.
The latest notice for Tuesday, April 18 states that the Alpine Approach Road will be closed for construction. "From Park Headquarters to its junction with Henry Hudson Drive (the circle), will be closed for construction work all day, Tuesday, April 18. (It is anticipated that the work will be completed in one day, but there remains the possibility of closure for part of Wednesday.) Access to the Alpine Boat Basin & Picnic Area will remain possible via Henry Hudson Drive from Englewood Cliffs," read the notice which was sent on Monday.
But last Saturday, April 15, no notice was given that the very end of Alpine approach would be closed. No notices were sent to Benepe's Bike Blog, nor to Jim Zisfein, our ever-aware source for River Road changes. At about 9 a.m. cyclist Enzo Bartoccioli and friend Jose rode from the George Washington Bridge to the end, only to find their final passage to Route 9W blocked by PIPC workers. They had to ride back five miles to the Dyckman Ave. center entrance, where they had walk their bikes up the road because of the PIPC's policy of not allowing cyclists to mount their bicycles on the hill.
"We rode an extra ten miles because of that," said Bartoccioli, who is a film editor for the United Nations, and rides as often as he can. "That really wasn't very nice," he added.
Cyclist Yvexy Delarosa of North Bergen used the same road in the afternoon, and was able to ride to the end of the Alpine Hill without incident, an indication of the policy vagaries of the park commission.
Althought the PIPC does not allow cyclists to mount their bikes on Dyckman Hill (the extension of Palisades Ave. to Englewood) they have offered no scientific evidence, traffic studies or other substantial proof that the road is unsafe for cyclists. They have also refused to offer any justification for the closure other than their stance that it is dangerous.
Said cyclist Eugene Boronow, who uses River Road more than three times a week, " Highways are dangerous for cars, but they are still allowed to drive on them. Why shouldn't we be able to ride on Dyckman? It makes no sense."
River Road Reopened and Positive Reinforcement (c)
April 13, 2006
Photo courtesy of PIPC-NJ
Workers loaded the last of the road paving equipment onto a flatbed truck parked outside the gates to Henry Hudson Drive this morning at 9 a.m. "Is the road open?" the reporter asked. "They called me this morning and asked me to take these away," the worker, who declined to be indentified said with a smile. "I guess they must be finished with the paving then," he added with a laugh.
And so it is, with little fanfare, River Road as it is known to practically every one with the exception of officials from Palisades Interstate Park Commission, and the makers and keepers of maps, is open again.
As I swung past the gates, and onto the blissfully freshly paved road that still smelled like hot oil, this reminded me that when people do good deeds they should be thanked. Cyclists are very grateful for the use of this road, and they should remind the administrators, workers and PIPC police just how thankful they are I thought.
As I rode past two workers finishing up the edges of the turnabout near Ross Dock, I called out to them: "Nice job on the road, it's beauuuutifull!"
'Thanks!" they shouted back in unison.
Seven miles later, near the hill to Alpine, I saw a lame goose. He was walking down the road as if in pain, and although eyeing me uneasily, did not attempt to fly away as I rode past.
Halfway up the hill to Alpine Station, I saw a parks truck going in the opposite direction. I flagged the driver down and he stopped. "There's a lame goose on the road," I said.
"I'll check him out," he said, "and I'll call animal control."
Thoughts of gas chambers came to mind. "You mean they'll kill him?" I asked in alarm. "No, they'll try to help him first, don't worry," he said. As he drove away, I called after him, "Nice job on the road, by the way." "Thanks!" he called back.
As reported in a previous post, Jim Hall, PIPC-New Jersey chief, managed to raise the funding for repaving this portion of the road, from Rock Dock to the southern gate, through some creative negotiating with the Port Authority of New York-New Jersey when they needed access to the underbelly of the George Washington Bridge while revamping the bridge cables for "bomb" protection.
Here's your opportunity: on your first ride back on River Road, take the time to check in at the Alpine Police Station at the north end to thank Hall and his crew for the beautiful paving job. And if you see any workers along the way, take the time to give your thanks for this beautiful green space that we have to ride on. Or you can email Hall at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Now that this subject of thanks has reared its adorable head, there is another burning issue that bears discussion.
As cyclists, we are frequently being pushed off the road, turned in front of, buzzed from the side, and sometimes even spit at, shouted at, and "bottled"--having a bottle, can or other liquid thrown in your face. This kind of treatment by neanderthals is all to frequent to recount, and can wrinkle even the kindest, most angelic face.
But have you remembered to give positive strokes when necessary? Remember when that considerate driver slowed down behind you to turn, so they wouldn't startle you by turning in front of you? Or that motorist who let you pass through a narrow roadway first, waiting until you were safely through? Or the left-turn signaler who actually waited for you to go through the intersection before making that turn they so badly wanted to make right in front of you?
I am sure you do. But did you thank them when they acted appropriately? Yes, it is the law to do all these things. But motorists who break the law can kill you, and get away with it by saying it was an accident. Motorists who actually obey the law should be visibly thanked with a friendly wave, a verbal thanks or other kind gesture. It's called positive reinforcement.
The point is, drivers cannot see eachother from the inside of their cars. But they can certainly see you. And you may want to use the opportunity to provide them with repetitive positive reinforcement so the next time they see a cyclist, warm feelings flood back into their brains, and they once again, act with the same kind--and legal--consideration that they did before