Grayways is a NYC Council bill calling on the Departments of Transportation and Parks & Recreation to designate 500 miles of bike routes connecting city parks.
Beneficiaries include NYC’s 800,000 adult cyclists who have few recreational facilities not crowded with runners and walkers, and neighborhood food shops who’d see a surge in customers.
“There may be nothing more frustrating for a cyclist or bike advocate than a bike lane to nowhere—one that ends in a dangerous roadway, or at an intimidating intersection, or only exists for a block or two.” — Benchmarking Bike Networks, League of American Bicyclists
The eighteen (18) proposed routes:
- Span the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island. Many begin and end in Manhattan.
- Aggregate separated paths, on-road bike lanes, quiet residential streets—and commercial zones that are empty on weekends (“industrial parks”).
- Avoid overcrowded facilities like Central/Prospect Park Drives, Coney Island/FDR Boardwalks and Hudson Greenway.
- Highlight local food stops and historic neighborhoods to encourage tourism.
- Incorporate city parks to facilitate outdoor dining and provide rest stops.
- Do not require closing streets, taking parking spots nor NYPD involvement.
The first iteration of the network can be implemented quickly and cheaply by hosting GPS data on city websites and promoted it to the 900K NYC residents already comfortable riding in traffic. As routes are upgraded with signage and safety improvements, it is expected that increasing numbers of city residents will take advantage
Cycling Organizations in Support
Black Girls Do Bike: NYC, Bicycle Touring Club of North Jersey, Ciclistas Latinoamericanos de New York, Empire Tri Club, Five Boro Bike Club, Huntington Bicycle Club, I Challenge Myself, InTandem Bike, Kids Ride Club, Long Island Randonneurs, Morris Area Freewheelers, New York Cycle Club, NYC Velo, OutCycling, QNS Social Ride, Team Red White & Blue
Multi-Mile – U.S. Bicycle Route System, NY Bicycle Route System, NY BR Viewer, Old Croton Aqueduct State Park, Empire State Trail, High Point (NJ) to Cape May Bike Route, East Coast Greenway, RPA Tri-State Trail Network
Extend Access to Green Space
- Grayways furthers the objective of DOPR’s Walk to a Park by making all parks available to all residents, even those typically accessed by car—Shirley Chisholm, Orchard Beach.
- By regarding the act of travel as a recreational activity, the network would blur the boundaries between parks and their environs—the objective of Parks Without Borders.
- It would showcase the $130 million invested in the Community Parks Initiative and broaden the constituency for further improvements.
- Adding recreational capacity outside Central/Prospect Park drives, Coney Island/FDR boardwalks and Hudson Greenway will reduce overcrowding during periods of peak use.
Twice as many people bike for recreation as transportation. This infers that projects with a recreational component will draw twice the use as 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.
- The NYSERDA-Urban Cycling Solutions NY Cycling Census, found that “a third of respondents currently use their bikes for tourism purposes and that most are very likely to.”
- Support Business Improvement Districts’ promotion of local business and special events—Bronx Night Market.
- Enhance home values. Smart growth studies by National Association of Realtors correlate a 5-10% increase to a homes’ proximity to bikeways.
- Bike shops rely on recreational cycling to generate the bulk of their profits.
- A network of attractive routes (w/rest stops) and destinations will draw cyclists from Long Island, Westchester, Connecticut and New Jersey.
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, global pandemic or armed conflict.
- Spur bridge operators to enhance bike access across the City’s arterial crossings—Henry Hudson, Cross Bay, Marine Parkway, Tri-Boro, George Washington and Outerbridge.
Marine Parkway Bridge. Image John T. Chiarella
A program of Car-Free Sundays can be implemented across Grayways routes as part of a 10-Point Plan to reduce dependence on imported oil.
Each of the eighteen routes comprise a map (red is outbound), a GPS file (requires free account), a printout of the turn-by-turn directions (“cue sheet”) and a featured food stop.
“A great bike network is made up of great bike routes.” — Benchmarking Bike Networks, LAB
• Inflation taking bite out of new infrastructure projects, Spectrum News 1, 6/22
• London prepares for 10-fold increase in cycling-walking, Smart Cities, 5/20
• London Mayor plans to expand ultra-low emission zone, Financial Times, 3/22
• How Paris’ cycling success built a roadmap for others, Curbed, 1/20
• Deaths Expose Chaos of Central Park Loop, NY Times, 9/28/14
• A6235B/S04943B calls on MTA to expand bike access across its seven bridges, 6/21
Neile Weissman organizes a hundred group rides per year for New York Cycle Club and is its current Public Relations Director. He also heads up Complete George—two hundred organizations and communities calling for expanded bike capacity across the George Washington Bridge.