Widening the GWB North Path preserves access for NYC’s 800,000 cyclists
NYC houses 800,000 cyclists,1 yet has it no recreational facilities not crowded with pedestrians and runners. The George Washington Bridge represents their sole access to bikeable roads and green space west of the Hudson.
But, at 7 foot across, the GWB is dangerously overcrowded at 3700 cyclists per day on weekends. This exceeds peak use over East River Bridges which twice as wide.2 The Port Authority will rip out the 1931 walkways as part of a $1.9 billion recabling and restoration, but is content to restore them to 7 foot.3
If not widened to the standards for a bikeway, the PA will soon compel cyclists to walk the mile-long span, cleaving the regional bike network in two.4 5 6
Reconfiguring the anti-suicide barriers preserves historic views
The PA’s planned configuration for the 11 foot high anti-suicide barriers will obstruct landmark views of the Palisades.7 8 This North Path proposal lowers the bikeway and barrier to preserve the views for walkers and runners on the upper level.
Contrasting plans for anti-suicide barriers. Images by Joseph Lertola and PANYNJ.
Preserve the George Washington Bridge as a great public space
The proposal to widen the North Path, while preserving majestic views, would finally realize the architects’ vision of the GWB as a great public space–with 16 foot promenades and mile-long belvederes extending beyond the cables.9
1 “Cycling in the City, Cycling Trends in NYC,” NYCDOT/NACTO, 5/19, https://tinyurl.com/hcu5yaz
2 “Capacity and Demand,” Complete George, 9/16, https://tinyurl.com/jpcfphq
3 “Restore the George, Supplemental Information on Bicycle Pedestrian Access,” PANYNJ, https://tinyurl.com/y8evmac6
4 “National Standards,,” Complete George, 8/17, https://tinyurl.com/y7p25wlj
5 “Safety, Litigation and the Demise of Cycling on the GWB,” Ibid, 9/17, https://tinyurl.com/y2gpfc3g
6 “Creating an effective network also means improving existing trails and connections. In particular, the connections between the greater region and New York City include major bridge crossings, such as the Brooklyn and George Washington Bridges, that are likely to be in high demand by many users.” “RPA Proposes Extending and Connecting Regional Trails to Form a Unified Network,” Regional Plan Association, https://tinyurl.com/y27u8m8s
7 “The George Washington is the most splendid of all Manhattan bridges. The view east features Riverside Drive and the Henry Hudson Parkway with their constant stream of cars. To the south, the ribbons of Manhattan’s highways are lost in the thickening cluster of roofs, but on a clear day, the play of the sun through its Himalayan towers, the funnels of great ocean-going liners in the Hudson River docks, and the smoking chimneys of New Jersey industrial towns are easily discernible.” “New York City Guide, a comprehensive guide to the five boroughs,” Federal Writer’s Project, 1939, P. 400, https://tinyurl.com/yawjyk5g
8 “The cliffs of the Palisades were designated a National Historic Landmark in 1965. About 12 miles long, 1/2 mile wide, and comprising about 2500 acres of shorelands, uplands, and cliffs, the Palisades Interstate Park provides visual and physical access to natural grandeur for millions in the metro area.” “The Palisades,” National Trust for Historic Preservation, https://tinyurl.com/y9kq4m78Image mybergen.com.
9 “What Would Othmar Do?” Complete George, 12/17, https://tinyurl.com/vlhhm55