Grayways calls on NYC’s Departments of Transportation (DOT) and Parks & Recreation (DOPR) to designate 500 miles of recreational urban bike routes.
Grayways can be implemented quickly and cheaply by hosting GPS data on the DOT website. As routes gain acceptance, they can be upgraded with physical signage and safety improvements.
Beneficiaries include NYC’s 800,000 cyclists who have few recreational facilities not crowded with runners and walkers and neighborhood food shops who’d see a surge in customers.
- The examples cited below extend through the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island. Many begin and end in Manhattan.
- The routes aggregate on-road bike lanes, separated paths, low-intensity residential streets and industrial areas that get little traffic on weekends.
- They largely avoid already-crowded facilities like Prospect Park Drive and Coney Island-FDR Boardwalks.
- Neighborhood food shops and parks are featured to facilitate outdoor dining and provide frequent rest stops.
- The plan does not close streets, take parking spots or involve the NYPD.
- Initially, the routes will attract groups of cyclists comfortable riding in off-peak traffic. Over time, as routes are improved, increasing numbers of NYC’s cycling community will take advantage.
Precedents include bike club and charity rides; the 1997 NYC Bicycle Master Plan, Somerset Walk-Bike-Hike, Bergen Parks Master Plan, U.S. Bicycle Route System, Connecticut Scenic Roads, Transport for London’s Strategic Cycling Analysis, East Coast Greenway and Old Croton Aqueduct State Park.
Benefits—as prioritized in the proposed Restore Mother Nature Bond Act:
Extend Access to Green Space
- Like DOPR’s Walk to a Park program, Grayways enhance resident access to pgreenspace. And, by mitigating distances traveled, they make available all facilities, even those only accessible by car—Shirley Chisholm Park.
- By re-envisioning the act of travel as a recreational activity, and select roadways as recreational space, grayways blur the border between parks and their environs—which is the objective of Parks Without Borders.
- Grayways will showcase the $130 million invested in the Community Parks Initiative. And it will help reduce disparities in future capital funding by broadening the constituency for each facility.
A survey commissioned by People for Bikes found that seven times as many bike for recreation than transportation. Therefore, dual-use projects should grow the constituency considerably faster than those intended solely for commuting.
Benefit Underserved Constituencies
- Extend opportunities for exercise and recreation to residents across NYC, particularly to communities with limited access to green space.
- Bridge transportation deserts. Reduce household spending on travel.
- Create a compelling rationale for bike share providers to extend service to outer boroughs—and a literal road map for where to site dock stations.
- Enhance the health benefits of existing bikeways by extending trip distances, increasing use and enhancing the safety of numbers.
Create Jobs, Develop Local Economies
Cycle tourism added $97 billion to the U.S. economy in 2017. Per capita, that’s $248 million per year in NYC—but that doesn’t factor the City’s 1300 mile bike grid, 20 million bike share trips and that 10% of adult residents regularly ride.
- Leverage the billions of dollars invested in bike paths and city parks as a vehicle to drive tourism and support the trend toward staycations.
- Support Business Improvement Districts’ promotion of local business and special events—Bronx Night Market.
- Draw cycle tourists from Long Island, Westchester, Connecticut, New Jersey.
- Support neighborhood home values.
Have a Positive Effect on Climate Change
- Promote cycling as a preferred mode of recreational travel, thereby reducing vehicle miles traveled.
- Grow multi-modal trips by increasing catchment and capacity of neighborhood transit hubs. Create the safe connectors for bike share providers to site facilities.
Invest in Resilient Infrastructure
- Supplement mass transit during periods of peak use—particularly with the advent of E-Bikes which can cut travel times in half.
- Enhance resilience to widespread transport outage resulting from extreme weather events, structural failure or global pandemic.
- Spur bridge operators to enhance access on arterial crossings—Henry Hudson, Cross Bay, Marine Parkway, Tri-Boro and Outerbridge.
Marine Parkway Bridge. Photo by John T. Chiarella.
Examples below comprise a map (red is outbound), a GPS file (requires free account), printout of the turn directions (“cue sheet”) and a featured food stop.
• London prepares for 10-fold increase in cycling-walking, Smart Cities, 5/20
• How Paris’ cycling success built a roadmap for others, Curbed, 1/20
• Deaths Expose Chaos of Central Park Loop, NY Times, 9/28/14
• NYC Council Intro – DRAFT
Complete George is 250 organizations, communities and public officials calling for expanded bike capacity across the George Washington Bridge. Its mission is to grow the constituency for bicycling.
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.