Remarks to PANYNJ, 3.25.21

Rather than widen the GWB paths to comply with national standards, as hundreds of organizations and communities have called for, the PA’s plan will accelerate the decline in service by inducing more pedestrians to use it.


Chairman O’Toole, Director Cotton, Commissioners.

On March 1, the Port Authority briefed Manhattan Community Board #12 on its program the Restore the George.  Here are the takeaways.

The North Path will open next Spring and be shared by pedestrians and cyclists for four years.

2022-2026Images from PANYNJ’s 3/1/21 presentation to Manhattan Community Board 12 on its program to Restore the George, unless otherwise noted.

The Path itself will be restored to 6’ 9” between the cables …

… but “wedges” will be added before-and-after the towers …Screen Shot 2017-10-31 at 8.07.26 AM.png

… to allow cyclists to maintain speed through the tunnels.screen-shot-2017-01-29-at-10-1-40-27-am-1The Radavist.

Notably, the North Path will feature an AASHTO-compliant access ramp …North Path Ramp

… with an alcove to view the Palisades …Screen Shot 2021-03-08 at 7.45.58 AM

… and a “gathering area” at the entrance.BridgeWalk (1)

While these amenities appear attractive, they are incompatible with a facility whose peak use regularly exceeds 600 users per hour.  

Cyclists will descend through the gathering area to exit, and accelerate to approach the graded ramp—directly through areas that crowds are now encouraged to gather.  

Compare to the current arrangement which feeds cyclists directly onto roads.cyclists exiting GWB South.jpg Daniel Panzer.

As far back as 2015, the South Path has operated with an “F” level of service …

GWB South, 2015 - peds+bikes
Spreadsheet FHWA.  Calculations by Neile Weissman.

… which means people have been crashing into each another.  And this is confirmed by the Agency.  Between 2010 and 2016, you recorded 39 cyclist-related crashes on-or-near the George.

SUPLOS F

The projected grade for the North Path (est. 5% annual growth), is even worse.GWB North, 2022 - peds+bikes

And even this doesn’t factor the high volume of recreational cyclists, race teams and, increasingly, eBikes.

_RAL1346 (2)Daniel Panzer.

Since 2015, New York’s bike grid has tripled to 1300 miles and bike share trips to 20 million per year.  Bike travel across East River Bridges surged 30% in 2020 alone.  

Yet, rather than widen the paths to comply with national standards, as hundreds of organizations and communities have called for, the Agency’s plan to Restore the George will accelerate the decline in service by inducing more pedestrians to use it.

The question is: Will the Agency pull the plug on bi-state bike travel before the North Path opens … or are will it wait for the first fatality?

And then what?  New York City houses 800,000 cyclists.  The George provides sole access to bike-able roads and green space unavailable anywhere in the City.

What are they going to do?  Ride to Tarrytown and cross the Mario M. Cuomo?  That path is already experiencing capacity issues—sending a few thousand cyclists north will shut it down too. 

Mario M. CuomoWABC News. 


Remarks to North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority 3/8/21 and New York Metropolitan Transportation Council, 3/18/21. Images by PANYNJ’s presentation to Manhattan CB12 on Restore the George, 3/1/21 unless otherwise noted.  

Also see: Ten Ways “Restore the George” Gets it Wrong and Safety, Litigation and the Demise of Cycling on the GWB


Neile Weissman heads up Complete George—250 organizations and communities who’ve called for expanded bike capacity across the George Washington Bridge.  He also leads 50+ rides per year for New York Cycle Club and is its current Public Relations Director.