Variation X notes

for NYC to Bear Mountain Adventure


Variation X illegal?

Variation X of section B has a section which it might be illegal to ride a bicycle through it (or even walk) . . . 

We first heard this concern raised in 2010. The questionable section is around mile 53.4 to 53.8 on the cue sheet for Variation X -- [ see on map ], going west to east. One concern is going across the two north-bound lanes of the Palisades Parkway, whether it's legal to do this even walking. Also a similar concern about the entrance and exit ramps of the Palisades Parkway here. We've heard questioned also if it's legal to go on route 6 thru the roundabout and east toward the Palisades Parkway.

As of August 2010, we don't remember seeing any signs or symbols there explicitly saying or showing "No bicycling" or "No walking" -- though there was a sign saying "Passenger Cars Only".

What seems strongest to us as of August 2010 is some wording in the New York Codes, Rules, and Regulations, Title 17, Chapter 4, subchapter E: Special Parkways, section 182.31 and 182.28 -- seemed to us that the most likely interpretation was that both bicycling and walking on the traffic lanes of a "parkway" are prohibited, except with special authorization or in specific designated places. And it seemed to us that the Palisades Parkway is a "parkway".

We're not lawyers of any kind so we don't try to resolve legal questions, but before trying to ride it we suggest you discuss it with the Palisades Interstate Parkway authorities or the Bear Mountain + Harriman State Park authorities and find out what is their current policy and advice. Or perhaps get advice from a professional attorney with experience in New York traffic matters.

At the least you ought to know an alternate set of roads -- e.g. the main route of section B [ cue sheet | map on | track in main GPX file ] or Variation R (significantly shorter than the main route) -- in case you are stopped from going through that section -- and have a contingency plan which allows for lots of extra time and effort for the extra distance and hill-climbing.

Why we've included the Variation X option even though it might be illegal:

  • Some bicyclists might get special authorization to get thru that section.

  • A professional attorney who understands the complexity of laws might be able to explain why it's actually legal to go thru that section.

  • Something at that place might change someday to make it legal to go through.

  • No one told us it was illegal until several years after we created the description and map and cue sheet.

east to west?

Going through this section [ see on map ] in the other direction uses different road lanes + ramps. As of 2020, key difference is that it does not go across lanes of the Palisades Parkway. If done on the paved surface, it does go on entrance + exit ramps of the Palisades Parkway, and it goes through the Long Mt Circle roundabout. There is a short section where the entrance-exit ramp is located as a third lane of the Palisades Parkway. So one legal concern is whether that section counts as bicycling on the Parkway, and another is whether riding on any of the entrance or exit ramps counts as bicycling on the Parkway.

A third concern is whether the section of Route 6 to the west of Long Mt Circle is legally a "parkway". Two observations which might suggest that it is a "parkway" are that further west near the intersection of rt 6 and rt 293, there are signs saying "Long Mt Parkway" and "Passenger Cars Only". 

Interesting that in the east-to-west direction, there is a grassy strip alongside the paved entrance-exit ramps which is continuous on the bridges over the Palisades Parkway -- so it would be possible to walk on grass from the Bear Mountain side to Long Mt Circle. But this would still require walking across the two main traffic lanes of Route 6 just west of Long Mt Circle, in order to reach Seven Lakes Drive going southwest from Long Mt Circle. If that section of Route 6 is legally a Parkway, then New York Codes, Rules, and Regulations, Title 17, Chapter 4, subchapter E: Special Parkways, section 182.28 seems to say that walking across is only permitted at specific designated places -- didn't see any signs for that at that point in 2010.


Some road sections in this variation have greater traffic-interaction risks which may require "advanced" traffic-handling skills -- see the Resources.

Here are some notes on traffic at some points on the route of Variation X: 

This a beautiful road to ride on in low traffic, and it does have reasonable shoulders for almost all of its section on this route [as of 2010] -- but during the summer beach season it can get heavy traffic on weekends and holidays, and we've heard from some riders that it can be much less pleasant then.  Perhaps this could also be a problem on peak fall foliage viewing days.

  • the park road (Seven Lakes Drive) between the Palisades Parkway and the Bear Mountain Circle

same comment as for Seven Lakes Drive above.

This is a traffic circle (or "roundabout") with two lanes around the circle, and no shoulder.  The turn for Route 6 East is the second exit after the entrance from Seven Lakes Drive.  So getting there requires getting past the first exit, which is for the Palisades Interstate Parkway South-bound.

What we do here is to wait at the Seven Lakes Drive entrance for a break in the traffic, then enter the circle and immediately start riding in the middle of its outer lane.  (Vehicle drivers who want to go faster are free to go past us using the inner lane).  As we come to the first exit, we signal left and move into left one-third of the outer lane of the circle -- to make it completely clear to vehicle drivers that we are not turning right at the first exit.  Once past that one, we move back into the middle of the outer lane, signal right, and at the next exit (for "Bear Mountain") turn right into the middle of the right lane of Route 6 East. 

There are two east-bound lanes, with little or no shoulder.  Route 6 is the major east-west road around here.  But fortunately at the times we have been there on weekends, there has not been much traffic in this section.  Perhaps this is because Route 6 East-bound has only one lane going in this direction for several miles before this, and here it has just now widened to two lanes. 

So it has worked well for us to simply ride in the right lane, about 3 feet out from the edge.  Vehicle drivers can use the left lane to go past us. 

There are two north-bound lanes carrying very-high-speed vehicle traffic, whose drivers are in no way expecting to encounter a bicycle.  There is no shoulder.  We strongly recommend not riding in either lane of the PIP.  

Instead we always walk or ride our bicycle on the grass on the right side of the roadway, and then continue on the grass alongside the exit ramp (with no shoulder) curving right.  We get back onto the pavement only after the exit ramp has fully merged into the park road going east toward Perkins Memorial Drive.  There's some interesting rocks beside the grass, so it's actually not a bad place to take a little rest from riding. 

For first doing the merge from Route 6 into the north-bound PIP lanes, we have found that there is a space at the merge-point to right of the Route 6 lanes where we can stop and look at the oncoming traffic in the PIP lanes and wait for a good opening to safely run across to the grass on the other side of the PIP lanes. 

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