Pave vs. Save. The Tale of The Putnam Trail

"We don't need any more paved trails in the Bronx. Please leave it alone. I ride my bike almost daily there." - Mike Peppard — Petition signature 2071-Bronx, NY

 "There are plenty of trees in Van Cortlandt Park." - City Council Member & Van Cortlandt Park Ex-Oficio Board Member Oliver Koppell.

Van Cortlandt Park's Putnam Nature Trail is one of my favorite places. For running, for coaching, for walking with my son. Whether I'm running or strolling (admittedly those paces have gotten alarmingly similar for me), I see people walking their dogs, riding their bikes, birdwatching, and just generally enjoying this beautiful greenway in the Bronx. It's a beautiful and quiet wooded trail, where you see a deer, a variety of birds, and other wildlife, all while sheltered from the noise and crowds of the city.

As you may know, The NYC Parks Department plans to make major changes to the Putnam Trail. Among the proposed changes to the trail, the Parks Department will:

  • Increase the width from 8 ft. to 15 ft.

  • Destroy and remove 400 trees over 1.5 acres

  • Pave 10 ft. of this new width with asphalt

  • Spend an estimated $2.4 MILLION on the project

Save the Putnam Trail's counterproposal is to have the Putnam Nature Trail resurfaced with a stone dust surface instead of paved asphalt and reduce the proposed width from 15ft down to 8ft. NYC Parks current plans will require the destruction of many trees and harm the natural environment and beauty of the Park. A stone dust surface still serve all the users including cyclists, walkers, runners, baby strollers, wheelchairs and more. It is ADA compliant, preserves the trees, has less environmental impact than the City's plan, and will retain the beauty of the trail. In addition, it will cost a fraction of the existing plan, which is to be paid by a combination of City and Federal money. I fully support this counterproposal, and feel that it will serve all members of the community.

Somehow, the Pave vs. Save argument has been inaccurately portrayed as a Cyclists vs. Runners debate. As someone who is both a cyclist and a runner, and usually comes to the defense of cyclists, I humbly call bullshit on the small (but vocal) minority of riders. Bike New York - a non-profit that is supposed to be legally prohibited from lobbying (and wants taxpayers to help subsidize the 5 Boro Bike Tour) recently sucked up to the City by helping to promote the paving cause, but to suggest that Bike New York represents the cycling community of the Bronx, or New York in general, is ludicrous. The counterproposal would serve riders just fine, while preserving all the positive aspects of the existing trail.

Our friend Will Sanchez has produced a great episode of his show, Gotta Run With Will, to highlight the cause. Please take a look at the video, and the Save the Putnam Trail website, and consider signing the petition and supporting the cause.