2016/06 – 4th Regional Plan

For 90 years, the Regional Plan Association has sought to improve the quality of life in NY-NJ-CT region.  In a preview of its 4th Regional Plan, the RPA articulated four categories of improvements needed to avert stagnation and sustain a fair and thriving metropolitan region:

  • Prosperity & Opportunity,
  • Affordability
  • Health & Livability
  • Resilience

Widening the paths on the George Washington Bridge to support the growth of cycling through the region helps achieve all four.1

Prosperity & Opportunity

Cycling infrastructure helps to attract the millennial workforce we’ll need to maintain our competitiveness.2

Connecting the NY and NJ bike grids with a robust paths across the George will accelerate “fill in” and draw bike share to working class, minority communities in Upper Manhattan and the West Bronx, which are often last to benefit from transportation improvements.3

Increasing cycle mode share for trans-Hudson commutes would allow North Jersey to grow population and jobs without increasing congestion and spending on roads and mass transit.

Affordability

RPA calls for reducing expenditures for housing, utilities and transportation from 51% of household income to 45% by 2040. Bike commuting saves $1400 per year versus mass transit and many thousands more over owning a car.4

Screen Shot 2016-06-24 at 4.09.24 PMPercentage of income spent on housing and transport.  Regional Plan Association.

Biking reduces the need for off-street parking, which lowers the cost to build affordable housing and frees up precious real estate near mass transit for transit-oriented development (“TOD”).5

Resilience

Should a trans-Hudson rail tunnel have to be taken offline for extended repairs, which would significantly disrupt train and bus service throughout the region, a widened GWB will afford residents alternate means to get to work.

Note: This will happen for 18 months starting in 2019 when the L-subway is shut down to facilitate East River tunnel repairs.

Each bike trip offsets the emissions of one car trip, which will help the region realize its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050.

Screen Shot 2016-06-24 at 4.09.45 PMGHG emission reduction goals.  Regional Plan Association.

Health & Livability

By enhancing rural economies, cycle tourism reduces the need to convert open space for development.6  Access to good cycling facilities creates more livable streets and enhances resident opportunities for exercise and recreation.

Screen Shot 2016-07-06 at 10.26.54 AMModes of travel to work. Regional Plan Association.

Role for Partnerships

Following examples in London and Stockholm, RPA urges the creation of a public-private “super agency” to plan and finance regional transportation infrastructure.  Notably, both cities have invested extensively in cycling infrastructure as the most cost-effective method of moving people around.7

Gateway and a new bus terminal are billions of dollars and decades away from impacting the region, but elements of a wider GWB can be online as soon as 2021, and at very low cost.

Thank you.

Neile Weissman, 2016

Updates: In July 2016, the Regional Plan Association signed on to support wider GWB paths as part of its 1650 Tri-State Trail Network.8

Screen Shot 2017-09-24 at 2.41.38 PM.png1650 Tri-State Trail Network with GWB circled in red.  Image RPA.

And in July 2017, RPA board member Trent Lethco penned a comprehensive op-ed in detailing the opportunity and benefits.9

In April, 2018 Bergen announced they were moving forward on a Master Plan to link county parks with bikeways and New York City DOT released a $90 million proposal to expand bike access across six Harlem River Bridges.  Both plans will dramatically grow mode share across the region.  They will also hasten the GWB’s obsolescence as a cycling facility.10


[1] 4th Regional Plan, Charting a New Course, http://charting-a-new-course.rpa.org

[2] Vital Link – https://completegeorge.org/needs/1506-vital-link/

[3] The Poor Bike, the Rich Bike-Share, City Lab – http://www.citylab.com/commute/2015/10/the-poor-bike-the-rich-bike-share/413119/

[4] NYC – $2.75 bus-train fare

[5] Minimum Parking Requirements, Transit Proximity and Development in NYC – Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy – http://tinyurl.com/gubpwv2

[6] Farmland Preservation, NJ Department of Agriculture – http://tinyurl.com/h9qm6s7

[7] Experts Call for Overhaul of NY Region’s Transport Agencies, Streetsblog – http://tinyurl.com/hln2uxx

[8] “We will be proposing a regional bike network as part of the Fourth Plan, and I would fully expect this (the GWB) to be part of it.” – Thomas Wright, Executive Director, RPA

[9] George Washington Bridge Reconstruction Misses Mark on Sustainability, Trent Lethco, RPA Labhttp://lab.rpa.org/lethco-george-washington-bridge-reconstruction-misses-mark-sustainability/

[10] Tributaries, Complete Georgehttps://completegeorge.org/needs/2018-05-weakest-link/