Funding expansion of the GWB North Path would yield discrete and robust paths for all classes of users—pedestrians, runners and cyclists. It would also preserve spectacular views that have long been part of the region’s heritage.
The result would be a magnificent new linear park, easily accessible to the 260,000 residents of Inwood-Washington Heights. It would be comparable to the highly popular Walkway Over the Hudson and the Mario M. Cuomo Bridge
With 1.4 million residents, the Bronx contains many neighborhoods that are “transportation deserts”—poorly served by mass transit and lacking in bike and pedestrian improvements long enjoyed by other boroughs. Many sections also lack parks and recreational space.
A wider, safer North Path will be a destination for Bronx residents. And the demand induced would spur NYCDOT’s plans to upgrade capacity over Harlem River bridges1 and east-west along connected bikeways.
The value to local neighborhoods is recognized by Manhattan Community Boards #4, 7, 9, 12 and Bronx #1, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 11, and 12—all of which have passed resolutions calling for GWB path expansion.2
New York City Cyclists
NYC is home to 800,000 cyclists3 who lack dedicated recreational facilities free of pedestrians and runners. Crowding has markedly worsened with the need to socially distance during the pandemic. For NYC cyclists, the GWB represents sole access to bikeable roads and green space.
Modernizing the GWB bikeway is an extremely cost-effective public health intervention, based on models developed by World Health Organization and the Columbia School for Public Health.4 5
In support of the project, 14 NYC Council Members have co-sponsored a resolution calling on the Port Authority to widen the GWB sidewalks.6
Cyclists with Disabilities
Athletes with disabilities—those who use handcycles and racing wheelchairs—need a modern bikeway to access the GWB. This demographic is typically ignored in infrastructure plans. It is time to include their needs.
The PA asserts that its rebuilt seven-foot path meets ADA requirements, but those standards pertain solely to pedestrian usage. They do not provide clearance for these special athletes. The proposal to widen the North Path is AASHTO-compliant, which fully accommodates their needs.7
1 “Connecting Communities, A Vision for Harlem River Bridges,” NYC DOT/AECOM, 2018, p. 3, https://tinyurl.com/yc5ac9h2
2 “Supporters,” Complete George, 2/20, https://tinyurl.com/yc8x3ypu
3 “Cycling in the City, Cycling Trends in NYC,” NYCDOT/NACTO, 5/19, https://tinyurl.com/hcu5yaz
4 “14,000 cyclists accessing the GWB annually saves 21 lives worth $195 million.” “World Health Organization/HEAT,” Complete George, 11/16, https://tinyurl.com/y88m5ywk
5 “Exercise spawned by wider GWB paths represents a public health intervention 14 times more cost effective than vaccinating kids against the flu.” “QALY,” Ibid, 2/17, https://tinyurl.com/vquh7gn
6 “Resolution 0103-2018 calling upon the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to widen the George Washington Bridge’s sidewalks. Sponsors: Ydanis A. Rodriguez, Mark Levine, Andrew Cohen, Keith Powers, Carlina Rivera, Helen K. Rosenthal, Ben Kallos, Paul A. Vallone, Daniel Dromm, Karen Koslowitz, Costa G. Constantinides, Antonio Reynoso, Justin L. Brannan, Eric A. Ulrich,” City Council of New York, https://tinyurl.com/y8gb9vuo
7 “National Standards,” Ibid, 8/17, https://tinyurl.com/y7p25wlj