Comments on NJTPA Plan 2050

Proposal to Expand Recreational Cycling and Local Tourism, 7/27/21

A Rutgers study found that active transportation added $497 million to NJ’s economy in 2011.1 And this is with little contribution from out-of-state guests.  Over the past decade, New York City grew its bike grid to 1200 miles, bike share trips to 17 million and its constituency of active cyclists to 800,000.2  

However, NYC has no recreational facilities not crowded with pedestrians and runners. And since most NYC residents are car-less, they are a huge potential market for recreational cycling activities that can be accessed directly or by mass transit.  North Jersey can implement a number of inexpensive measures to induce them to come over.  Here are some options.

Dave Kraus, ADK SportsMohonk Preserve.  Image Dave Krause, ADK Sports.

#1 – Permit cycling in South Mountain Reservation

The Mohonk Preserve comprises 8000 acres in Ulster County, NY.  It annually hosts 250,000 visitors paying $20 per day which sustains an $8 million budget.3 4 5 6 Notably, the Preserve includes 80 miles of “carriage roads” which are promoted for bicycling.  Unfortunately, the Preserve is a two hour drive from NYC and not accessible via public transportation.

South Mountain Reservation comprises 2100 acres and has its network of carriage roads laid out by Fredrick Law Olmstead.  Conveniently, the SMR is just 45 minutes from Penn Station via NJ Transit.  However the SMR does not permit cycling.  This deprives the SMR of potential use fees and local vendors of customers.

#2 – Designate “Numbered” Routes

“Numbered” routes would be modeled on the U.S. Bicycle Route system.7  Also NJDOT’s plan to connect High Point to Fort May.8  They would aggregate existing on-road routes, separated paths, low-intensity residential streets and industrial areas that receive little traffic on weekends.  

A network of numbered routes could be accomplished quickly by posting online GPS and distributing maps to bike shops.  As routes gain acceptance, they can be enhanced with signage and on-street improvements.  Examples of numbered routes include:

Two CastlesTwo Castles spans four counties and is accessed via the GWB, PATH and NJ Transit.

Lenape TrailLenape Trail would upgrade dirt paths and on road portions to facilitate cycling.

PatersonPaterson features Great Falls Park and local Peruvian/Middle Eastern food stops.

Black TomBlack Tom connects waterfront parks and paths between Fort Lee and Lower Manhattan via George Washington and Bayonne Bridges and the Staten Island Ferry.

NJ:SI #1Newark> Perth Amboy routes along industrial roads (quiet on weekends) to link the Bayonne, and Goethals Bridges, and a (bikeable) Outerbridge Crossing to Middlesex Greenway and D&R Canal.

WallAberdeen-Bradley Beach connects Henry Hudson Trail and Jersey Shore.  Accessible via NJ Transit and SeaStreak Ferry.

#3 – Widen the bikeways across the George Washington Bridge

On June 15, 2020, the shared-use path across the Mario M. Cuomo Bridge opened.  In the three weeks, there have been six reported crashes.9 10  Already there were calls for the facility to be shut down until it can be made safe.  The Cuomo SUP is 12 foot wide and connects 1.3 million residents of Rockland and Westchester.  

By comparison, the George Washington path is 7 foot wide and is the sole bikeable connector  for ten million residents of North Jersey and NYC.  If the GWB is deemed unsafe and all users are required to walk, that will disrupt any measures North Jersey takes to attract New York City visitors.11

Note: There is a proposal to fund $50 million to widen the GWB North Path as part of New York’s $2 billion Restore Mother Nature Bond Act.12  As part of Plan 2050, NJTPA should consider allocating an additional $50 million dollars to widen the South.

Neile Weissman, 2021

Mark Lenniham, APMario M. Cuomo Bridge – Mark Lenniham, AP

Notes

1 “The Economic Impacts of Active Transportation in New Jersey,” USDOT-FHWA-Rutgers University, 2013, http://tinyurl.com/oednylm  

2 “Cycling in the City, Cycling Trends in NYC,” NYCDOT/NACTO, 5/19/20, https://tinyurl.com/hcu5yaz

3 Mohonk Preserve, https://tinyurl.com/jd8tudt

4 “Mohonk Preserve 501c3 profile,” Guidestar, https://tinyurl.com/yczowgjn

5 “Mohonk Preserve 2018 IRS Form 990,” ProPublica, https://tinyurl.com/yaqwmbvc

6 “Bicycling,” Mohonk Preserve, https://tinyurl.com/ycu7on6a

7 “U.S. Bicycle Route System”, Wikipedia, https://tinyurl.com/v423ddc

8 “High Point-to-Cape May route, a tour guide for cyclists”, New Jersey Department of Transportation/RBA Group/NV5, https://tinyurl.com/udp9wgh

9 “How Safe Are Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge Paths?” CBS New York, 7/7/20, https://tinyurl.com/y7u4ysbv

10 “There have been six accidents requiring emergency response,” “Safety concerns emerge with new bike, pedestrian path on Mario Cuomo Bridge,” ABC7NY, 2/2/20, https://tinyurl.com/y9dewf9k

11 “Safety, Litigation and the Demise of Cycling Across the George Washington Bridge,” Complete George, 9/17,” https://tinyurl.com/5mxz7sjy

12 “North Path Plan,” Complete George, https://tinyurl.com/f6f7jdm