WASHINGTON HEIGHTS, Manhattan (PIX11) — The Hudson River Greenway is the busiest trail in the country for walking, running, and cycling. A mile-long stretch of the pathway on the west side of Upper Manhattan is now scheduled to be shut down for at least four months for renovations.

Community members who use the trail are pleased with the scheduled upgrade, but the alternate route that the city is recommending during the repairs has residents worried about safety, and also has them calling on the city to provide a better detour.

Along the pathway, between a pedestrian bridge near 181st Street in Washington Heights, and Dyckman Street in Inwood, signs are posted announcing the closure of the trail. The signs say that it will happen sometime after May 30. It has still not happened — and is now scheduled to begin next week — and residents hope that in the interim, they can buy time to encourage a safer alternative to the closure.

“When we first read the sign, we were like, ‘Really? They’ve gotta be kidding,'” said David Rubio, a frequent cyclist on the north end of the bike- and pedestrian path. 

He said that the detour is dangerous. It would take bikes, runners, and walkers off the car-free trail overlooking the Hudson River and move them instead of across one of Upper Manhattan’s busiest east-west roadways, 181st Street, and then have them travel on Broadway, the city’s busiest thoroughfare, and back over through busy Dyckman Street.  

“Having to go down Broadway through that traffic, especially when you get close to the G.W. Bridge, is just a nightmare for bikers,” Rubio said.

Another frequent cyclist on the greenway agreed. Along the detour stretch of Broadway, which runs for more than a mile, there are “Too many cars…that don’t pay attention,” said cyclist David Hung. It results in “extra traffic,” he said. “Drivers are gonna be mad, cyclists gonna be mad,” he said.

He proposed a different schedule for the repairs.

“They should just do it in the wintertime,” he said. 

Other people who use the trail made similar comments. the $1.3 million repairs and renovations are intended to restore the greenway to top condition by strengthening the stone wall adjacent to it, as well as repairing several sinkholes and other problems on the trail that compromise its integrity and safety. 

However, say critics, safety is being badly compromised along the detour route. 

“This is it,” said Allegra LeGrande, as she stood next to Broadway on Monday in the early afternoon. Even though it was hours before the evening rush, trucks and cars had the intersection of 181st and Broadway congested. It’s also the junction of two major bus routes, which further adds to the traffic buildup. 

“Do you really want to bike here with your kids?” LeGrande asked. 

She’s an Inwood resident who’s been mobilized as an activist because of the proposed changes to the bike path. LeGrande is part of a group of uptown residents who have asked the city’s parks department to move concrete Jersey barriers that currently separate the pathway from the Henry Hudson Parkway’s road surface.

They wanted state and city authorities to use Jersey barriers to carve out a temporary bike- and pedestrian lane from the Hudson Parkway’s road surface.

However, the activists told PIX11 News, that transportation officials couldn’t act without getting permission from the city’s parks department, which has jurisdiction over the pathway.

“It’s the safe way we can get from Point A to Point B,” LeGrande said about the greenway in an interview. “The Parks Department just unilaterally took that away from us.”

For its part, the Parks Department, through a spokesperson, gave a statement that referenced the city’s Department of Transportation. 

“Parks worked with DOT to determine the best possible detour to accommodate pedestrians, runners, and cyclists.” the statement said.  “The detour was determined based on DOT’s knowledge of available bike routes in the area.”

“We are making needed repairs to the retaining wall and pavement along the Hudson River Greenway in Washington Heights. Construction on the $1.2 million project is expected to begin on June 13 and last up to four months.”