Remarks to NJTPA Trustees, 7/13/20
A Rutgers study found that active transportation added $497 million to NJ’s economy in 2011 with little contribution from out-of-state guests.1 In the interim, New York City grew its bike grid to 1200 miles, bike share trips to 17 million and its constituency of cyclists to 793,000.2
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.
Permit cycling in South Mountain Reservation
The Mohonk Preserve comprises 8000 acres in Ulster County, NY. It hosts 250,000 visitors per year who pay daily use fees of $15-$20. This underpins an $8 million annual budget.3 4 5 6 Notably, their network of trails include 80 miles of “carriage roads” which are promoted for bicycling. Unfortunately, the Preserve is a two hour drive from NYC.
South Mountain Reservation comprises 2100 acres and has its own 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 it of potential use fees and adjacent vendors of thousands of customers.
Develop a series of “numbered” routes across North Jersey
“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 bike lanes, separated bike paths, low-intensity residential streets and industrial areas that receive little traffic on weekends.
The proposal can be accomplished quickly and cheaply by distributing GPS directions online. As routes gain acceptance, they can be enhanced with signage and on-street improvements. Some examples:
Two Castles spans four Counties and is accessed via the GWB, PATH, NJT.
Paterson features the Great Falls Park as a destination and Peruvian and Middle Eastern food stops.
Black Tom is accessed via the GW and Bayonne Bridges
Aberdeen-Matawan>Bradley Beach is accessed via NJ Transit and SeaStreak Ferry
Newark>Perth Amboy utilizes industrial roads for weekend trips, connects Goethals Bridge, Middlesex Greenway and D&R Canal
Widen the George Washington Bridge paths
On June 15, 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 are calls for the facility to be shut down until it can be made safe. The Cuomo path 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 connects 2.6 million residents of Bergen and Manhattan – and via its bike grid, the whole of the City’s cycling community. If the GWB is deemed unsafe, or if the Port Authority requires all users to walk, that will disrupt any measures North Jersey takes to attract New York City visitors.
Mario M. Cuomo Bridge – Mark Lenniham, AP
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, 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