Putnam Trail is a nightmare


To the editor:

What was once a refuge in the concrete jungle, a premier nature trail in sensitive wetlands habitat in Van Cortlandt Park, has been transformed into a dangerous thoroughfare. I am referring to the so-called Putnam Greenway, which is in actuality a nature trail turned into an asphalt road in the park for more than a mile from the Mill Pond to the Yonkers border, where it connects to the South County Trailway.

I have been leading nature walks in the park for 10 years. I led a group on a recent Saturday, and cyclists sped toward us demanding that we get off the bike path. I gave a strong, swift response to inform them that the path is multiuse. The signage instructs cyclists to yield to pedestrians, but they were bold and oblivious.

We also encountered a motorcycle — how we long for yesteryears of the rustic Putnam Trail!

Rule-breakers ignore signs. These are not isolated incidents. We have had many such hostile and dangerous encounters with speeding cyclists, e-bikes, and motorcycles on the Putnam. There is often no warning signal of their approach, and they come too close. We have witnessed a woman with her stroller careen off the trail as a motorcycle came upon her. We were actually mooned by a motorcyclist when he stopped when we said no motorcycles are allowed on the trail.

This dangerous situation was predictable and preventable. Despite a petition with more than 2,600 signatures from the community that opposed paving in favor of a more traffic slowing, ADA-compliant stone dust surface — and a Community Board 8 resolution that stated that any trail surface in the park should be permeable, flexible and non-toxic — the trail was paved anyway.

We know a certain amount of illegal motorbikes have been confiscated, but these are not due to chases, but to ones parked unlicensed. Time to install speed bumps. Speed cameras with the feed directed to the 50th Precinct.

The ADA accessibility point is moot, as we have yet to see a single person in a wheelchair as they no doubt know how hazardous the former trail has become. It’s just a matter of time before there are injuries — and lawsuits.

What’s also especially galling is that the Putnam project cost nearly $4 million, and not a penny of that was devoted to public safety. Where is the accountability?

Debbi Dolan

Matt Turov