Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Say no to paving over nature

By Michael Burke


How many Riverdalians, through the change in seasons, have enjoyed a hike along the trail through the woods between Palisade Avenue and the Hudson River? And each time marvel with boundless gratitude at this pastoral escape in, of all places, the Bronx? Well, I have a suggestion: let’s pave it over. To make it easier to bicycle on.

Why not? This is the plan the city Parks Department has for the bucolic Putnam Trail in Van Cortlandt Park. Visit the trail now — it starts at the pond by the golf clubhouse — and follow it northward and you will find the perfect pastoral escape from our urban landscape. A dirt path, pounded by countless feet so it is now perfect for a leisurely walk, hiking and jogging, welcomes you. And for those who do not mind just a little bit of extra effort it is suitable for biking (I’ve seen families biking it together).

On the right as you head out are Canadian snow geese sunning in the pond. On the left you might see an egret launch himself from an ancient downed tree (this is the Bronx, I remind you). Quickly, the path narrows under a canopy of trees. Gold and red in the autumn; green in the spring and summer. Some have reported seeing deer on the trail. I have run it in the dead of winter with snow and ice on the trees and ground. It is an invigorating, majestic experience (I have not once, in the years I have run the trail, once encountered anything criminal or even inappropriate as past writers here have claimed).

When it rains you have to navigate around mud puddles and the century old railroad ties. Or, if you are running and if your pace feels particularly good that day and you do not want to interrupt it, you can run right through the mud. When you come out of the woods back by the pond and golf clubhouse, mud splattered all over your legs and up your back you, by God, feel great. You feel wonderfully alive.

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On Monday February 27, 2012 the sun was shinning so I drove my bicycle to Van Courtlandt Park and then drove it along the Putnam Trail. It was kind of horrendous going through the mud in the park but when I got to the Yonkers border to paved path was delightful. I use drive for my bicycle because you really drive a bicycle and you ride in a car. The operator of a bicycle is what powers the bicycle. The operator of a motor vehicle steers. steps on the brake or the gas pedals, and pays attention to other motorist. A cyclist does all of that as well as powers the bicycle. But, I digress.

I continued along the Putnam Trail to Farragut Parkway in Hastings-on-Hudson. I then turned around and drove my bicycle back to Van Courtlandt Park and then up to my home on Fieldston Road.

It was wonderful to find the section between Redmond Park and Tuckahoe Road in Yonkers paved. A cyclist can now drive on the paved trail from the Yonkers border all the way to the end of the South County Trail. I look forward to the link to the North County Trail enabling cyclists to drive all the way to Cronton-on-the-Hudson.

In my travels on Monday, I saw walkers, cyclists and joggers enjoying the path.

Why can't we all share the path in this way in Van Courtlandt Park. I am sure the path could be paved wide enough to accommodate cyclists and still leave enough room for joggers to use an unpaved portion and maintain the bucolic quality of the trail.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012 | Report this

Everybody wins if the trail is improved with stone dust. The trail will still serve all users, including cyclists and wheelchairs. The drainage problems will be fixed. The environment and the trees would be kept intact. A 15ft wide trail that is paved is completely overkill and serves no ones best interests. Taxpayers will also be on the hook indefinitely for maintenance on this extra 8ft width of trail which is completely unnecessary. Stone dust is a win win for everyone.

Thursday, March 1, 2012 | Report this

To those of you linking from the Save The Putnam Trail website, just know that there are a lot of people who want to see the trail paved. These propagandists from Save The Putnam trail seem to need to resort to fake videos of their friends and colleagues in order to make their point.

Saturday, June 16, 2012 | Report this
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