New York has made significant investments in bike infrastructure over the past decade—$39 million to create the Walkway over the Hudson; $200 million to complete the Empire State Trail; and $400 million to put a bikeway across the Mario M. Cuomo Bridge. Despite these investments, bicycle mode share across New York remains a fraction of that in states and municipalities around the world.
Creating the infrastructure and passing pro-cycling legislation enhances sustainability, resilience, public health, affordability and equity. It also increases home values. And every resident who bikes as a primary means of transport reduces the need to fund more expensive modes.
Portland, OR (pop. 600K) determined that its bike grid, which cost $60 million to build—equal to a mile of a super highway—saved the city $2.6 billion per year.
Subsidize municipalities’ implementation of bike master plans (A8936 / S3897)
In part due to cost constraints, few municipalities have implemented comprehensive bicycle master plans needed to make bike travel safe and efficient. A08936/S03897 reduces the municipalities’ cost to match federal funding for complete streets improvements from 5% to 2.5% (increases NYS’ share to 87.5%).
- Now that the bill has has been signed into law, push for funding beyond the $5 million allocated in the Executive Budget.
- In 2022, 39 State Senators and Assemblymembers called for $180 million to be allocated towards bike-ped improvements.
- In 2018, Transport for London spent $270 million on bike infrastructure—or $30.68 per person for 8.8 million residents. A comparable investment across New York would exceed $600 million.
Image Transport for London.
Extend the Empire State Trail across the George Washington Bridge by expanding its South Path into a modern bikeway ($60 million).
The George Washington Bridge is the sole bike-able Hudson crossing between NYC and North Jersey and is linchpin of the proposed 1650 mile Tri-State Trail Network. It connects directly to the Empire State Trail at Hudson Greenway—the most heavily-biked road in the U.S.
But its 1931-era, 7 foot wide paths are grossly inadequate to meet current demand, let alone support future growth. Over a six-month period in 2015, NYCDOT recorded regular peak use exceeding 500 users per hour, making it NYC’s third busiest bike crossing.
Since that study, NYC’s bike grid tripled in size to 1500 miles and annual bike share trips grew to 27 million. Notwithstanding, the Port Authority (“PA”) will rip-out-and-replace the mile-long walkways as part of a $1.9 billion recabling project, but will only restore them to 7 foot.
This is a pedestrian standard and grossly inadequate to support current use, let alone future growth. This decision will expose the PA to endless litigation. Or, if the sign over the entrance is to be taken at face value, it can make everyone walk the one mile span. (“BikeWalk … ?”)
NYC entrance to GWB North Path, Darren Bartels
This will significantly impact the cycling across the region and bike tourism along the Low-Mid Hudson Valley. An economic model like the one used for Walkway Over the Hudson, projects that a linear park across the GWB would attract $42 million per year in new tourist spending.
Support for path expansion includes some 200 organizations and communities. It would also realize the original vision of the spans as a great public space.
- Fund the project with $60 million (or $6 million per year ten years) in the Executive Budget to grow jobs, local economies and tourism; or b) as part of the Environmental Bond Act to extend access to green space; or c) in tandem with NJ, call on the PA to self-fund to offset their greenhouse-gas-intensive portfolio of air ports, automotive crossings and seaports.
Scaffolding under the GWB South Path and proposed bikeway. Rendering Joe Lertola.
A1280 Rivera / S2714 Kennedy – amend Highway Law §331 to require complete streets upgrades on all road resurfacing, maintenance and pavement recycling projects
Since its passage in 2011, Highway Law §331, as relates to the implementation of complete streets improvements, has categorically excluded resurfacing, maintenance and pavement recycling projects. As a result, nearly 80% of transportation funding and numerous road projects exclude pedestrian and bicycling infrastructure.
By comparison USDOT encourages states, local governments and transportation agencies to:
- Consider walking and bicycling equal to other transportation modes and not an afterthought in roadway design.
- Integrate bicycle and pedestrian accommodation during maintenance projects, and on new and rehabilitated bridges up to 20% of the cost of the larger project.
- Go beyond minimum design standards. It is more effective to plan for increased usage than to retrofit an older facility.
- Collect data on walking and biking trips. Set mode share targets and track them over time.
- In addition, look for ways to fund prioritize, if not require, CS improvements in cities. And to provide technical assistance and funding to small towns and rural areas which may have no in-house expertise and no funding for road maintenance besides CHP funding—which cannot be used for bikeways.
A3180 Barrett / S100 Ryan – amend HL §331 to empower municipalities to implement complete street designs on projects that are undertaken by the NYSDOT—or receive federal, state funding—or both federal and state funding
The legislation should be passed and enacted into law.
Grayways—500 miles of recreational bikeways connecting urban parks.
A3986 Fahy/ S2643 May (“Idaho Stop”) – would amend the Vehicle & Traffic Law (V&TL) to allow cyclists to enter an intersection if there’s no cross traffic
In 2019, 27 NYC cyclists were killed—more than half by commercial vehicles. Empowering cyclists to enter signaled intersections before lights turn green would let them avoid getting hooked by turning vehicles and hit-from-behind when bike lanes are obstructed.
Allowing cyclists to yield at a stop sign would shorten their exposure in the conflict zone. It would also facilitate DOTs’ routing of bike networks along secondary roads.
In March, 2022, NHTSA concluded that stop-as-yield (“Idaho Stop”) laws enhanced cyclist safety in states where they were evaluated.
- The legislation should be passed and enacted into law.
A4346 Steck / S1724 Harckham (“3-Foot Safe Passing Law”) – would amend the V&TL to require motorists to maintain a minimum 3 ft safe distance while passing cyclists outside New York City.
The Department of Transportation considers 3 ft as the minimum passing distance to provide adequate space for bicyclists to safely travel on the road—and a distance easily understood by motorists.
- The should be passed and enacted into law. In addition, the bill should be amended to incorporate provisions of the NJ safe passing law as well as to include an opt-in provision for New York City.
A3874 Jackson / S1975 Ramos – amend the V&TL to increase the width of a commercial bicycle from 36 inches to 48 inches wide
As NY unrolls the legalization of e-bikes and e-scooters, tweaks to the law are needed to keep consumers safe and get the best services possible. This legislation would create a 4th class of e-bikes for “cargo” bikes. These bikes could be up to 48 inches wide and can travel up to speeds of 12 miles an hour.
• Cargo bikes are critical alternative to deliver goods more efficiently and in a cleaner environmental manner. The legislation should be passed and enacted into law.
A1416 Epstein / S315 Salazar – V&TL to allow a 5 mph speed limit for open streets in cities having a population in excess of one million to also include 15 mph along designated bike routes (throughout NY)
The Open Streets program in NYC is designed to allow residents to enjoy the city streets with limited or no vehicle traffic. On streets where vehicles are permitted, NYC DOT advises motorists to “to drive 5 MPH or slower.” However, drivers regularly travel at much higher speeds. Therefore, NYC should have the authority to set a 5 MPH speed limit on Open Streets.
• The legislation should be passed and enacted into law.
In addition, to aid in implementing bicycle master plans, we recommend that the bill be amended to also allow all municipalities to set 15 mph speed limits on streets along designated bike routes.
Sustainable Travel Surcharge
Voter approval of the 2022 Environmental Bond Act will create a one-time infusion of funds as down payment on the 2019 Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (“CLCPA”). But to sustain a commitment in outlying years, New York needs dedicated streams of funding.
And with the transportation sector generating 36% of NY’s total emissions, there should be penalties and incentives for NY’s transportation agencies to invest in the infrastructure needed to reduce emissions of their “tenants and customers.” (aka “Scope 3” emissions).
In 2019, European governments—at the behest of air carriers who were experiencing a loss of customers due to the “flight-shame” movement—began to levy “éco-contributions” of 3-14% the price of a ticket. France, in particular, would ring-fence the proceeds towards sustainable travel projects. In early 2020, Delta and Jet Blue began programs to offset their customers’ emissions.
- Following these examples, the Governor should call on the Port Authority of NY&NJ, regional airport operators and carriers to assess a Sustainable Travel Surcharge (“STS”) of $10 per passenger on all flights in-out of New York airports. In 2018, an STS on enplaned passengers out of LGA, JFK and Stewart airports would have generated $425 million for reinvestment.
- The Legislature should authorize a Sustainable Travel Fund (“STF”) to hold and invest STS proceeds. Projects consistent with CLCPA guidelines would be selected by regional MPOs.
- To incentivize bridge operators to expand bike-ped access, they should be paid $2-5 per user.