Good afternoon. I’ve come to speak with you about the multi-use paths across the George Washington Bridge. I’ve been cycling in the NY area for 23 years, and I have taught and coached cyclists for over 15 years. I’m a former President of the New York Cycle Club.
PANYNJ Videos, 4/27/2017 Board Meeting, Carol Waaser starts 1:54:31
First, I want to thank you for the design changes that have already been announced for the paths. Removing the stairs from the north path and redesigning the ramp to the south path will be major improvements. But I’d like to address the paths themselves. They are too narrow.
The paths, at less than 7 feet wide between suspender cables, are not wide enough for two cyclists to pass each other safely, given other obstacles and debris on the path that cause even experienced cyclists to swerve to avoid them. I recently saw a faster cyclist pinned to the outer railing while passing a slower cyclist who suddenly swerved to his left.
And if even experienced cyclists are crashing on the bridge, imagine beginners negotiating the neckdowns at the cables and the chicanes through the towers (even with the proposed improved sightlines), with faster cyclists converging from both directions. For the beginner cyclist, this is terrifying!
If the paths are inadequate at current levels of use, imagine 2024 with more than twice the current cyclists, in addition to rollerbladers, skateborders and runners who would rather run with cyclists than with camera wielding tourists (which begs the question, who will enforce the separation of users?).
Segregating pedestrians from cyclists will not be enough. You must widen the paths to comply with national standards.
So while I applaud the Port Authority for the improvements that have already been announced, I beg you to find ways to make each path safer still. I’m 71 years old but I hope to have at least another 10 years of safe cycling ahead of me, and I’d also like the next generation of cyclists, as well as pedestrians and tourists, to have a safe way to cross the Hudson.
Thank you for the opportunity to address you today.
Carol Waaser, 2017