17/07 – A View from the Bridge

How You Can Help

Chairman Degnan. Director Foye. Commissioners.

Today I will highlight three shortcomings in the PA’s plan for the GWB paths.

  • It won’t alleviate dangerous conditions.
  • It will increase congestion.
  • The design for anti-suicide barriers will sacrifice one of the region’s most precious assets—views from the Bridge itself.

Dangerous Conditions

The current path is bisected every 60 feet sets of cables that jut out a foot and a half. They narrow the effective path width to 7 foot with a stationary crash hazard every three seconds. This configuration will not change under the PA’s plan. [1]

That the thousands of who daily bike across the GWB don’t report more crashes speaks to their skill as cyclists, not safe design. Injuries will rise with overall use, and as less experienced cyclists comprise a greater percentage of total. [2]

_RAL1346 (2)Casual cyclist caught in front of a line of racers.  Photos Daniel Panzer.

Note that cyclists descend East River bridges at far greater speeds, but those facilities are considered safe at 11-14 feet across. [3]

Increased Congestion

Once the PA removes stairs and widens the path approaches, congestion will spike and plans to create “gathering places” at the entrances will create new bottlenecks.  Why not retain the current setup, common to to other city bridges, that feeds cyclists directly into the flow of traffic?

Screen Shot 2017-07-12 at 2.05.17 PM.pngPANYNJ rendering of proposed NY South Path entrance vs. current arrangement.

A View from the Bridge

Generations have cherished path views of Manhattan and the Palisades, but the proposed anti-suicide barriers, with its prison-like bars, would permanently and unnecessarily obstruct them.

Compare a bi-level arrangement, which offers no less protection, but retains the view.  In economic terms, using a Walkway over the Hudson model, that’s worth $42 million per year in tourist spending. [4]

Screen Shot 2017-07-16 at 10.12.12 AM.png Renderings PANYNJ and Joseph Lertola.

A Wholly Inadequate Plan

As a whole, the PA’s plan is woefully underfunded. [5] It disregards USDOT guidelines to accord biking and walking equal priority with other modes of transport [6] and the 170 organizations, businesses and communities calling for wider paths. [7]

Nor will it save the Agency money.  Not if operating an out-of-spec cycling facility creates an unsustainable liability. [8]

Certainly not if thousands of the cyclists from across the region, who now have to dismount, joined with walkers pissed about losing the view, compel you to rip it out and start over.

Sunset over NJ 2560 copy.jpgNeile Weissman, 2017

[1] 14.3 miles per hour = 20.97 feet per second divided into 63’ between cables equals 3 seconds, calculateme.com, http://tinyurl.com/54r5rw

Screen Shot 2017-07-10 at 11.54.50 AMCyclist executing a pass in under a second. 

Screen Shot 2017-07-10 at 11.51.40 AMAnother cyclist passing, this time between sets of cables.

[2]  Peak bike traffic across the GWB grew form 2252 per day in 2010 (PANYNJ) to 3699 in 2015 (NYCDOT) or 10.4% per year. This compares to 12.5% per year across NYC overall., Capacity and Demand, Complete George, http://tinyurl.com/jpcfphq

[3]  AASHTO guidance calls for a 2 foot separation between cyclists and the path edge and 3 foot from other cyclists.  That works out to 11′ to 14′ for (2) bi-directional paths plus a shared passing lane.  Or 15′ for (2) paths plus (2) passing lanes – a configuration wholly justified by even current use., National Standards, Complete George, http://tinyurl.com/gotz6r3


[4] Linear Park, Complete George, http://tinyurl.com/howhova

Visitors who wanted to catch a view would have to stop and stare through the bars. This will further increase congestion and potential for accidents.

_RAL1369 (2).jpg

[5] “The Agency has budgeted up to $50 million for path improvements (as part of the $1.9 billion program to Restore the George).”, Executive Director Patrick Foye 6/30/16, PANYNJ Videos. Mr. Foye’s GWB remarks start 12:01, http://tinyurl.com/znlnpjq

[6] Policy Statement on Bicycle and Pedestrian Accommodation Regulations and Recommendations, USDOT, http://tinyurl.com/yccn8qmo

[7] Supporters, Complete George, http://tinyurl.com/j2nbfj2

[8] MTA Bridges and Tunnels requires cyclists walk facilities under 10 foot.

Screen Shot 2015-04-09 at 4.09.33 PMMarine Parkway Bridge.  Photo by John T. Chiarella.