2021/01 – Support Letter

Dear Governor Cuomo,

I write you on behalf of Complete George—250 organizations, communities and public officials who’ve called for greater cycling capacity across the George Washington Bridge (GWB).

As you know, the Port Authority of NY&NJ (PA) is currently undertaking a $1.9 billion re-cabling and restoration of the GWB, with completion projected for 2025. Yet the PA’s plan will restore its narrow 7 foot walkways to their 1931 configuration. This ignores 90 years of evolution in transit and urgent calls to reduce carbon emissions.

Today, the GWB is the sole bike-able connector between North Jersey and NYC, and directly connects the two most heavily biked roads in the U.S.—Hudson Greenway and Route 9W. It is linchpin of the proposed 1650-mile Tri-State Trail Network and a feeder to the Empire State Trail.

But the GWB is dangerously overcrowded. In 2015, NYCDOT recorded 3700 cyclists per day on weekends. Since then, NYC’s bike grid has tripled in size to 1200 miles and its bike share program grew to 20 million trips in 2019. In 2020, cycling has surged as a result of COVID-19.

NYC’s 793,000 cyclists cyclists are a captive market for state tourism, but unless they’re afforded ready access to bikeable roads outside the city, their development will be limited by local paths increasingly crowded with pedestrians and runners.

The PA, however, has failed to appropriate funds to upgrade the GWB with a modern bikeway. For this reason urgently request the state provide $50 million to expand capacity across the GWB’s North Path.

The North Path Plan (NPP) will also preserve historic views of Palisades, which would be blocked by the PA’s proposed configuration of anti-suicide barriers.  These improvements will comprise a new linear park, comparable to Walkway Over the Hudson, projected to attract 290,000 tourists per year and sustain 675 jobs.

To fund the NPP, and other sustainable transport projects, we suggest a European-style “eco tax” of $10 per passenger on all flights out of JFK, Newark, and LaGuardia airports.  If such a tax had been levied 2019, it would’ve generated $1.4 billion.

The NPP will further goals of this Administration’s Restore Mother Nature Bond Act:

• Benefit Underserved Constituencies

• Create Jobs and Develop Local Economies

• Have a Positive Effect on Climate Change

• Invest in Resilient Infrastructure

• Preserve Access to Green Space

We understand the immense challenges now facing the PA in managing COVID-19 disruptions. Yet the need for a modern bike facility on the GWB is manifest. And we have been lobbying the Agency on this matter every month since 2013.

We urge that your Administration, along with its other far-sighted projects, fund the North Path Plan for the George Washington Bridge.

Respectfully,

Neile Weissman

North Path Plan: 10′ path for cyclists, 7′ path for peds-runners, 9′ high anti-suicide barrier.