Have a Positive Effect on Climate Change

New York is committed to aggressively reduce GHG emissions

In 2019, New York enacted the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act which mandates aggressive reductions in greenhouse emissions and protects at-risk communities.1

And it participates in the Transportation Climate Initiative–a regional compact to tax gas consumption and fund sustainable technology and user incentives.2

Transportation remains the largest category

ghgegraphicImage NYS Department of Environmental Conservation.

Increasing bike mode share is the cheapest way to reduce those emissions 

Investing in bike infrastructure to reduce vehicle miles traveled (VMT) is the most cost-effective means to reduce emissions from transportation.3 4 5  

Certainly when compared to increasing subsidies to mass transit, raising vehicle emission standards, building out electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure and providing point-of-sale cash incentives for EV purchase.6

New York is investing billions of dollars in its cycling network

NY State is spending $500 million to put bikeways across the Mario M. Cuomo and Kosciuszko bridges and to build out the Empire State Trail.7  

NY City has grown its bike grid to 1250 miles, bike share to 20 million annual trips and its constituency of cyclists to 800,000.8  Over the coming 10 years, it will spend $1.7 billion on Vision Zero improvements.9  

Widening the North Path will eliminate a bottleneck on its central crossing

The GWB is the linchpin connector the regional bike grid, directly connects the two most heavily biked roads in the U.S.–Hudson Greenway and Route 9W.10

Yet the Port Authority plans to maintain the North Path as a 7 foot sidewalk.11 That’s connecting two fire hoses with a straw!12  

Reduction in cycling’s growth will require more expensive strategies

Building out the GWB North Path to the standards of modern bikeway (AASHTO) will surge bike use for recreation and commuting, mitigate the environmental impact of a mass transit outage and strengthen the rationale for further investment.13  

Restoring the North Path to pedestrian standard (ADA) will “collar the baby,” ensuring that it chokes on its own growth.  And if the most cost-effective strategy to reduce emissions from transport is thwarted, New York will have to fund far more expensive measures to achieve its climate goals.  

Screen Shot 2017-09-26 at 12.31.51 AM.pngManhattan Bridge on Bike to Work Day.  Photo Robert Wright.

Notes

1Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (Climate Act),” New York State, 2/20, https://tinyurl.com/yb48ktss

“Framework for a Draft Regional Policy Proposal,” Transportation & Climate Initiative of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic States, 10/1/19, https://tinyurl.com/y65rmehq

3 “A (global) increase in cycling could save $24 trillion cumulatively between 2015 and 2050 and cut CO2 emissions from urban passenger transport by nearly 11%.” “A Global High Shift Cycling Scenario,” Institute for Transportation and Development Policy, 2015, https://tinyurl.com/y9qpz7xb

 “Cycling fully-fledged part of Dutch climate policy,” European Cyclist’s Federation, 9/29/19, https://tinyurl.com/ycb64fgw

5 “London”, Complete George, https://tinyurl.com/y68n7oen

6 “Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions”, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, 2/20, https://tinyurl.com/y52nzr86

$440 million for the path across the Mario M. Cuomo (1/9 of total $4B); $55 million for the Kosciuszko (1/10 of $55M); and $100 million for Empire State Trail (1/2 of $200M).

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

“After Spike in Deaths, New York to Get 250 Miles of Protected Bike Lanes”, NY Times, 10/28/19, https://tinyurl.com/sgrn4yj

10 Heat map” of Hudson Greenway, George Washington Bridge and Route 9W, Strava, https://tinyurl.com/yb5ody64

Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 2.08.58 PMImage Strava.

11 “Due to persistent overcrowding, the GWB grades an “F” level-of-service,” “National Standards,” Complete George, https://tinyurl.com/y7p25wlj

12 “Nine Ways Restore the George Gets it Wrong,” Ibid, https://tinyurl.com/y43djtd8

13 “Connecting Communities, A Vision for Harlem River Bridges,” NYCDOT/AECOM, 2018, p. 3, https://tinyurl.com/yc5ac9h2