2019/03 – Fund GWB path expansion as extension of Empire State Trail

Fellow Cyclist,

Please petition the New York Governor, Assembly and Senate.  Ask them to “fund expansion of the George Washington Bridge paths as an extension of the Empire State Trail.”  (See letter below.)

Also contact your City Council Member. Ask them to sign onto Resolution 0103-2018.   (Or thank them if they have.)

• City Council Member

Our city, state, region needs the coming restoration of the bike path on the George Washington Bridge to be wide enough to safely support current and future traffic levels.

The PA needs to step up to the reality that serious bicycle usage is an issue of our time. We need political will and funding.

image.pngBridgeWalk: While the Port Authority promises adequate capacity for all users, the sign over the cyclists’ path says otherwise. The entrance appears spacious, but the mile-long path quickly narrows to 7 foot. Source, Restoring the George, P. 5.

Letter of Support

Dear Governor Cuomo, Speaker Stewart-Cousins and Speaker Heastie,

In 2017, the Legislature approved $200 million to fund the Empire State Trail, a 750 mile mixed-use path stretching from Manhattan to Canada and Buffalo to Albany.1  

In 2019, another $114 million is being sought to extend the EST across Long Island.2   This is in addition the $440 million spent to put a shared use path across the Mario M. Cuomo Bridge.

However, none of these appropriations address the imminent threat to cycling across NYC and the Mid-Hudson posed by the failure of the Port Authority to widen the bike paths on the George Washington Bridge as part of a $1.9 billion restoration.  

Here are the reasons that support funding expansion as an extension of the Empire State Trail:  

• The GWB is the sole bikeable Hudson crossing out of New York City.  It connects to the EST via the Hudson Greenway. 

• Its 7 foot wide paths are already seriously overcrowded at 3700 cyclists a day on weekends and growing at 10% per year.3   

• Despite the need, the PA’s plan is to restore the paths to 7 foot, half as wide as needed to comply with current national standards.  Further, the PA’s assertions of adequate capacity are contradicted by design drawings indicating that cyclists will have to walk the one mile span.5 

• This will hobble the growth of cycling across the region for generations, impacting durable enhancements to public health, property taxes, sustainability and resilience annually worth hundreds of millions of dollars.6

• It will also cause a drop in cycle tourism, a key justification for the Trail.7  

• Conversely, a widened George, in tandem with the Mario would form a forty mile loop, drawing thousands of cyclists per day past tourist and food stops through Rockland, Westchester, the Bronx and Upper Manhattan.8

• To this end, NYC DOT will expand bike access across six Harlem River Bridges, facilitating travel across the Bronx and upper Manhattan; and Bergen, NJ will connect its county parks with bikeways, providing off-road access to Rockland.9 

• NYC’s 828,000 cyclists represent a huge market for tourism statewide.10  But unless they’re afforded access to roads outside the city, their growth will be limited by local facilities increasingly crowded with pedestrians and runners. 

• A realistic plan to upgrade the GWB paths, is on the table.  Complete George would cantilever a pair of 10-foot bikeways off the main span, below the existing 7 foot walkways.  These would remain in use for pedestrians and runners.11 

• The CG configuration of anti-suicide barriers will also preserve historic views of NY-NJ skylines and Palisades.  Together, these improvements form a “linear park,” comparable to Walkway Over the Hudson, projected to attract 290,000 tourists, spending $42 million and sustaining 675 jobs.12

• The argument for considering the George as a public space is supported by original design drawings showing 16 foot wide paths extending past the cables.13

• Over 200 organizations, businesses, communities and electeds have already called on the PA to widen the GWB paths to comply with national standards.14 

Accordingly, we support funding GWB path expansion as an extension of the Empire State Trail.15  The Port Authority may balk at doing the job, but a mandate, and funding, should get it done. 

GWB-CG NorthComplete George: (2) 10 foot paths for cyclists plus (2) 7 foot paths for peds-runners. 9 foot high safety barriers set below sightlines of walkways. Rendering Joseph Lertola.

Notes

1 Empire State Trail, NY.GOV, https://tinyurl.com/y6s8bm4z

2 The Long Island Extension to the Empire State Trail, New York Bicycle Coalition-Trust for Public Land, https://tinyurl.com/y333fkxl

3 Capacity and Demand, Complete George, http://tinyurl.com/jpcfphq

4 National Standards, Ibid, http://tinyurl.com/gotz6r3

5 Eight Ways the PA’s GWB Plan Gets it Wrong, Complete George, http://tinyurl.com/ybeo524b

6 Summary, Ibid, https://tinyurl.com/zt3pnc9

7 Cycle Tourism, Complete George, https://tinyurl.com/yxkwbk4a

8 “Cuomo-Washington” loops, Ride with GPS, https://tinyurl.com/y5mpo3zw

9 Tributaries, Complete George, https://tinyurl.com/ycj4ujuf

10 NYC DOT defines “active cyclists” as adults who bike four or more times per month, Cycling the City, NYC 2018, NACTO, https://tinyurl.com/hcu5yaz

11 Complete George, https://tinyurl.com/zt3pnc9

12 Linear Park, Ibid, https://tinyurl.com/y9ehkmvm

13 What Would Othmar Do?, Ibid, https://tinyurl.com/y8zu5m6q

14 Manhattan CBs 4, 7, 9, 12; Bronx 1, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12; City of Yonkers; Council Members Brannan, Cohen, Constantinides, Dromm, Kallos, Koslowitz, Levine, Powers, Reynoso, Rivera, Rodriguez, Rosenthal, Ulrich, Vallone; Representatives Clarke, Engel, Lowey, C. Maloney, S. Maloney, Pascrell, Rice, Serrano, Velazquez; Executives of Rockland, Orange, Dutchess, Westchester, Borough President of Manhattan; 60 bike shops , 40 cycling organizations; NYC Roadrunners, StreetsPAC, WEACT-Harlem and Regional Plan Association, Supporters, Complete George, https://tinyurl.com/yc8x3ypu

15 The PA has put the cost path expansion at $90 million, or $45 million per side., PANYNJ, p.13, https://tinyurl.com/y6b7vbr4