The problem with the greenway up there is accessibility. You can get on it easily from 181st St, by going from the bridge up to Ft Washington Ave, left under the bridge, and then left again. You use the pedestrian walkway over the highway at the end of 181st. OR, you can take Riverside down to 95th St and go in from there. The only other way on is around 125th St, but I never go that way. It'll take you down to the Fairway. As far as I know, all other entrances require stairs.
How do you get from the bridge to the greenway? On 158th street? I thought it was around 165th street but I was trying to get onto it but the road just ended up being riverside drive and there was no way to cross over. I am probably biking from the UWS to jersey and back this weekend and want to take the greenway up and back to my apartment.
The easiest way is to make a left on Ft Washington, a left on 181st, a right on Riverside and a left onto the pedestrian bridge over the highway.
I have no qualms whatsoever taking the Greenway below 96th St. after dark, and have done it quite a lot. I have reason to go up to 116th St. often enough, and I get off at around 103rd St. (Yes, there's an exit there without stairs, and indeed until you've done it a couple of times it's near impossible to figure out where you are in relation to the street grid or how to get back to it. The first few times involved much confusion and use of GPS.) Coming back, often after 11pm, I take either the Greenway, or go through the park. It's can be pretty deserted, but it's wide and well lit, and there usually a few ordinary folks strolling about, not to mention bicycles, so I'm not the only who feels OK being there. I've taken the bit just north of 125th St. after dark, and though I didn't feel unsafe exactly, though I can see how it could be, I found it dreadfully unpleasant. It's, narrow, and dark, and If you're going against traffic on the highway, car headlights are right in your eyes, making it very hard to see, even with a decent headlight. And other bikes with no headlights appearing out of nowhere were also unnerving.
These days I go up to Inwood after work, 218th St., almost every week, so I ride the Greenway almost from end to end. It's the fastest and most pleasant way, not to mention the flattest. Going through Inwood Park at the end in the summer is a nice little bit of bucolic in Manhattan. However, coming back at night, I've always taken the streets. I considered taking the Greenway, but thought better of it. I thought I might have been a bit paranoid, and I'm generally not one to worry too much about dark streets, but after reading about the attacks, I guess discretion was in fact the better part of valor. Now that it's getting dark early, I take the streets going up too.
Willfried, I used to prefer hilly terrain to flat terrain, but given that this route is pretty visually stimulating and that I find I can get a good workout by pedaling fast, that's plenty of mental and physical stimulation. I'm not used to flat terrain, so my average speeds are pretty surprising. I was living in Maplewood, NJ, and I'd always be in the hills on my bike out there.
The only downside is that I'm now in danger of getting weak on hills. When I take the 110th St hill in Central Park, I laugh. I scream by everyone else huffing and puffing. I used to think it was a difficult hill. I bet I might soon have the same point of view, with so little practice on hills.
So back to my question: is it crazy to ride it after 11pm below 96th St?
I've ridden the greenway, south of 59th St, as late as 2, maybe 2:30 am, without incident. I've also ridden downtown from the GW Bridge well after dark, though in light of recent attacks, including a stabbing near riverside South, I probably won't do it again. The most dangerous parts are the stretch between W 177th St and W 155th where the path turns away from the river and runs along the Amtrack tracks, with a large tree canopy, and the descent down from the Lighthouse at W 181st Street.
Horses on the Greenway are from NYPD's Mounted Police Unit. It's probably safer for them to use the Greenway than ride in traffic. I always give them plenty of room when passing.
There's an unmarked access point at W 177th street, which I'd never consider doing after dark, and ramps at W 155th street behind the ballfields.
When I came off the GWB last weekend I noticed a sign for access to the Greenway, tennis courts, etc... but then had a hard time making out where you were supposed to go. I think it leads to stairs. It was always a great mystery to me how you get down there from the streets above. It was only on the NYC Century last year when my riding partner showed me the way at 95th St. We had started in Prospect Park and weren't following the marked century route back from CP. I was able to show her the route that takes you to the Manhattan Bridge on Clarkson St, so we each gained some knowledge.
From what I've heard there are two access point to the Greenway near the GWB. The usual one goes down a steep hill, through a tunnel, over an Amtrak Bridge, and down to the lighthouse. The second, which I've only heard about, goes through a tunnel often populated by homeless people.
There's an unmarket access point around 177th street behind Columbia Presbyterian, where you follow an exit from the Henry Hudson and eventually find an unmaintained path. That leads down to some short stairs, through a tunnel and another Amtrak Bridge, and leaves you by the restrooms. I discovered this by following some joggers.
I don't remember any stairs at W 155th Street but there's a crosswalk where oncoming traffic has limited visibility.
I haven't been that far north for awhile so it's possible some of these routes may be under construction.