2017/11 – Comments on NJTPA Plan 2045

Chairman Palmer.  Director Murphy.  Trustees.

My comments on Plan 2045 are informed by watching New York City evolve over the last 20 years – how 1000 miles of bike paths and 10 million CitiBike trips per year has fundamentally altered how people get around, particularly during periods following the loss of mass transit like after Superstorm Sandy.

Given the demographics and density  cycling infrastructure will have the same beneficial impact on North Jersey.

And the political support is there.  Forty North Jersey municipalities have called for wider GWB bicycle paths and a connected grid.  If West New York, Hawthorne and Alpine are on the same page, something’s working.

I urge you to move quickly.  We could lose a Hudson rail tunnels at any time and the long term consequences if we don’t radically reduce greenhouse emissions from transportation are irreversible.


Revise the statement on biking and walking

  • “All transportation projects should WILL promote biking and walking wherever possible.”
  • Take every opportunity to fully integrate biking and walking into the transportation matrix.
  • Emulate best practices of cities around the world where cycling has reached double-digit mode share.
  • Use cycling as a tool to reduce congestion, transportation and public health costs; attain air quality standards; enhance resiliency, sustainability, tourism, affordability and competitiveness.

Set bicycle mode share targets.  Fund the necessary improvements.

  • 2% by 2025,  5% by 2035, 10% by 2045 in high density areas
  • Example: New York City has promoted cycling to three quarter million residents by building out its bike grid to 1000 miles and growing bike share to 10 million trips per year.
  • Regional Plan Association has set an bike-walk mode share target of 8% by 2040.

Screen Shot 2016-07-06 at 10.26.54 AMImage Regional Plan Association.

Adopt a performance-based allocation of transportation funding

Apply performance-based allocation across transit modes to maximize the benefit of constrained resources. Favor projects that will serve the most people-per-dollar, make best use of dated infrastructure and generate the most social benefits. Cycling currently gets just 2% of the 2045 RCIS Objectives allocation.

  • Example: In its 2017-2026 Capital Plan, the Port Authority allocates $4.2 billion, plus an $100 million per year in subsidies, on rail links to Newark and LaGuardia Airports to serve 10,000 travelers per day.  For 2% of that cost and no subsidy, the PA could create comparable trans-Hudson capacity with wider GWB paths.

National Standards

Comply with relevant national standards (USDOT, AASHTO, FHWA, NACTO) on all new and reconstruction transport projects.

  • The Wittpenn Bridge links NJ’s two most populous cities.  Will it have adequate capacity for serve as an “arterial” cycling connector? Will the operator be insulated from liability arising from crashes involving bicycles?
  • AASHTO guidelines encompasses tandems, trailers, recumbents and other non-standard bicycle configurations. (ADA contains no provisions for bicycles.)

Screen Shot 2017-05-07 at 5.43.19 PMHandcyclist in Central Park. Wheelchair racers from ING NYC Marathon.

Political Support

40 North Jersey municipalities have called for wider GWB bike paths and a connected grid: Allendale, Alpine, Bergenfield, Bogota, Cliffside Park, Closter, Cresskill, Demarest, East Newark, Edgewater, Elmwood Park, Englewood Cliffs, Fair Lawn, Fairview, Fort Lee, Garfield, Glen Rock, Guttenberg, Hackensack, Hasbrouck Heights, Haworth, Hawthorne, Ho-Ho-Kus, Kearney, Leonia, New Milford, North Bergen, Northvale, Norwood, Oradell, Paramus, Park Ridge, Ridgefield, Ridgefield  Park, Rochelle Park, Saddle River, South Hackensack, Teaneck, Tenafly, West New York

Green Dividend

Cities throughout the world who have invested heavily in cycling infrastructure and reaped the benefits.

  • Portland, OR, a city of 600,000, estimates the replacement cost of its street bike grid at $60 million, the same as one mile of super-highway.  Yet, Portland credits its grid with saving $800 million per year from leaving the city.
  • In Tokyo, a city of 13 million, 90% use mass transit for their daily commute.  Of those, one third bike the first-and-last mile.  Real estate around train stations is so expensive that automated underground bike storage systems are employed.

ECO Bike StorageECO underground storage system. Houses 200 bikes. Image Giken Corporation.

Sustainability

Use cycling as a tool to remedy ozone nonattainment and achieve CO2-PM2.5 maintenance.

  • The 4th National Climate Survey forecasts dire consequences for the nation and the planet unless we drastically reducing greenhouse emissions.
  • 2016 was the first year since the late 70‘s where CO2 emissions from the transportation sector exceeded that of power generation.
  • Bike trips offset twice the CO2 emissions of regular cars as high efficiency vehicles.

Screen Shot 2016-06-24 at 4.09.45 PM2050 NY-NJ GHG reduction targets. Image Regional Plan Association.

Congestion Mitigation

Similarly, employ bicycling as a tool to mitigate congestion.   For intra-inter-state trips, cycling offers commuters a true “door-to-door-one-seat-ride.”

Resilience

As an exercise in disaster planning, presume the loss of the Hudson rail tunnels before Gateway is completed. Further presume the expansion of GWB paths with the capacity to support 10K bicycle commuters per day will be operational.  That being the circumstances, what additional measures should be implemented across Bergen-Hudson to mitigate the two year, 75% reduction in train travel?

  • Example. Following SuperStorm Sandy, cycling across NYC’s four East River Bridges surged from 13,000 to 30,000 per day .  But this resilience followed years of preparation – NYC’s bike grid had grown to hundreds of miles, the AASHTO compliant bridges had sufficient capacity and a sufficient number of the commuting population was accustomed to bicycling.
  • This scenario will play out again in NYC in 2019 when cycling across East River bridges will offset the loss of service to 50,000 daily commuters caused by the shutdown of the L-subway for 18 months to facilitate repairs to the Canarsie Tubes. See 14th Street Peopleway

Extend the Service Life of Transportation Facilities

By reducing the growth of demand for other modes of transport, bike travel extends the life of existing facilities and helps to offset latent demand for their replacements.

Public Health

Models from World Health Organization and Mailman School for Public Health show investments in biking-walking infrastructure to be incredibly cost effective public health interventions.

Property Taxes

Multiple studies show homes near bike paths attract younger buyers and increase property values.

Affordability

Regional Plan Association calls for reducing expenditures for housing, utilities and transportation from 51% of household income to 45% by 2040.  Commuting by bicycle saves individuals thousands of dollar per year versus mass transit or car.

Tourism

  • A Rutgers report found that active transportation added half a billion dollars to NJ’s economy.
  • Between the Cuomo/TPZ Bridge and the Empire State Trail, NY State will spend $500 million on cycling infrastructure in the Lower-Mid Hudson Valley.  The Cuomo/TPZ and GWB together will bracket a 42 mile recreational loop between drawing cyclists from across the region.
  • Expand NJ Transit’s Bikes-on-Trains policy to handle large groups (“Cyclist Specials”).
  • Support efforts by regional cycling organizations, food vendors and tourism boards to develop routes, events and weekend packages.

Screen Shot 2017-11-12 at 8.37.17 PM.pngImage Roadbike.io

With 750 thousand active cyclists in New York City and no recreational facilities not shared with pedestrians, North Jersey has a captive audience for cycle tourism initiatives.

Neile Weissman, 2017