Hudson River Greenway: An Observation

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If I asked a number of people to name their favorite place in the world, I doubt there would be a person who would not have an answer to this question. Why do I assume so? Generally, people have to exist in an environment, no matter what this environment is. There are spaces that are enjoyable to be in, and there are spaces that do not bring as many positive emotions. However, it is a fact that there is always a place that brings some good feelings or memories. Which means that people have preferences about the areas they would rather go or not go depending on the occasion. Moreover, some spaces can bring positive emotions to one group of people, or to several groups of people at the same time. The example of such a place would be the Hudson River Greenway.

The Hudson River Greenway takes up 32 miles, and it is located right off the Hudson River, which allows anyone who uses it to enjoy the view of the river and New Jersey. The Greenway is also called Henry Hudson bike path, for many people, it is known to be one of the safest bike lanes in the New York City. However, its advantages do not end at just the bike lane. Many groups of people can use the area of the Greenway. For example, dog walkers, babysitters, parents with strollers, and joggers are often seen there. These groups can be separated even into smaller subgroups, but for a better picture, I would like to talk about how the Greenway looks, feels, smells and sounds on a regular day.

I enjoy being there and seeing the type of people who come to have a good time just as I do. For observing the area I went to a nearby outdoor place named Pier-i Café, a location where people typically go to relax and have a nice conversation. This café is located right off the bike lane, making it easily accessible. It is also an excellent spot that can welcome more subgroups than a regular café can because dogs are allowed in there. It is usually complicated for someone to be able to grab food while walking a dog, but Pier-I café solves this issue. When sitting there, one can enjoy the view of the Hudson River, the skyline of New Jersey, sounds of water and chirping birds. This atmosphere makes time spent on the Greenway both very relaxing and somewhat productive. Various subgroups can enjoy the Greenway differently.

Many people come out to the Greenway for a workout. Jogging while smelling the freshly cut grass, and listening to the birds singing seems like an inspirational training. Parents and babysitters like bringing little kids there to listen to the calming sounds of water and escape car pollution. Cyclists love that area too. There is no safer and calmer route that one can use to get from point A to point B in Manhattan with a dedicated bike-lane spanning thirty-two miles around the island. However, there was one disadvantage that I noticed. The Greenway is located right under the Henry Hudson Highway which looms overhead of the bike lane, and directly next to the Pier-I café. The occasional honking of a horn or rumble of a tractor-trailer rushing overhead will, at times, pierce through the calming atmosphere nearby and remind you that you’re still in one of the busiest cities in the world. On the other hand, the highway is consistently being used, which makes it so the noise of the cars blend in with the other sounds in the area. This disadvantage is not a reasonable enough factor for various groups of people not to enjoy the Greenway.

I consider myself to have an emic perspective to the Henry Hudson bike path, which makes me somewhat biased against certain sub-groups of people who use it. For me, the Greenway is mostly used as a bike lane, which means that when something happens on the bike lane, I am most likely to take a cyclist’s side. What is interesting is that most of the people who were seen on October 2nd during my observation, at about 11:50 were not cyclists. There were plenty of dog walkers, parents, and babysitters with strollers and joggers, but a tiny amount of cyclists. I had an expectation that I will see lots of commuters and parents biking on such a beautiful day, but surprisingly I saw more people on foot than on the bicycles. However, those who were using bicycles could be separated into 3 groups. First of all, the kind of bicycles that were ridden was roughly 48% Citi bikes, 48% regular bikes, and around 4% of commuters using electric devices. Out of those who used Citi bikes, most were wearing suits or very formal clothes. Those who seemed to ride their own bikes either dressed casually, or had sports clothes on. Both groups appeared to be in a rush as they traveled along the greenway.

Surprisingly, I did not see any food delivery-men. This subgroup was the one that I was expecting to be the most common and wanted to learn more about. As I mentioned before, I learned that I might be slightly prejudiced to other people who use bike lanes. This is why one specific subgroup caught my attention: Joggers. Moreover, what makes them interesting is the fact that although they have what appears to be a beautiful pedestrian area with a view on the Hudson Greenway and a variety of trails available, they choose to jog in the much faster-moving bike lane, which in most cases is running parallel to the pedestrian path merely a few feet away. Not every jogger decided to use the bike lane, but it was a significant number. What I found interesting was that there was no pattern in the types of people who jogged in the bike lane either. People of different age, nationality, and gender chose to circumvent the established pedestrian paths and share space in the bike lane. I kept asking myself why would someone prefer running on the bike lane instead of a regular path? I hope to find the answer through further observations.

It is not easy to find a public space that can support the interests of many people. However, I genuinely believe that such an area as the Henry Hudson bike path, which is 32 miles long, can leave many people happy with the time spent there. It can be a field for new experiences that supports various interests and different ideas which come to one’s mind, for example, jogging in the bike lane.