2018/05 – Tributaries

Remarks to North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority, 5/14/2018 and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, 5/25/2018

Today, I would bring to your attention two recent developments that could significantly affect the growth of cycling across the region and, consequently its sole bikeable connector – the George Washington Bridge.

Bergen Parks

The Bergen Parks Master Plan1would connect its parks via streets, trails and utility right of ways in order to form a County Greenway Network.

Developed by the Rutgers Center for Urban Environmental Sustainability, this project references Atlanta’s Beltline2 as example of a U.S. city employing a non-motorized grid to connect communities.

In concert with groups including the NY-NJ Trail Conference, Jersey Off Road Bike Association and Palisades MTB, the Bergen Plan will seek to develop a model for the design and construction of sustainable hiking and biking trails within designated parks.

And by establishing a network of bikeways, the County would extend park access to all of its municipalities. These include some of the most densely populated in the U.S. – many of which face a parkland deficit.

bergen-park-master-planBergen County Parks Master Plan.  Image Rutgers CUES.

Harlem River Bridge Access

New York City DOT just announced a $90 million program to expand bicycle-pedestrian capacity across seven Harlem River bridges connecting Manhattan and the Bronx.3

Its goal is to reduce the distance between bicycle crossingsfrom every three miles to one mile, so that no detour would require more than a 10-minute ride.

All bridges are owned and operated by DOT – except for the Henry Hudson where the City would partner with MTA to widen the existing walkway.

Peak use across all the Harlem River bridges was 3900 cyclists per day in 2015.4  For comparison the daily total for NYCs four East River Bridges is 20,000.  That’s up from 3000 per day 20 years ago, before DOT began a similarly dramatic expansion of access.

Screen Shot 2018-05-06 at 3.58.30 PMConnecting Communities.  Image NYC DOT/AECOM.

The Weakest Link

The Bergen and New York plans connecttoand extend, the East Coast Greenway5and Empire State Trail,and help to realize the Regional Plan Association’s vision of a 1650 mile Tri-State Trail Network.7

Together, they hold enormous potential to grow cycling across the region and to satisfy the publics desire for high-quality recreational space and for safe, cheap, efficient, sustainable and healthy modes of transport. From a cyclist’s perspective, they’re flat out awesome.

However, both plans will flow, like tributaries, to an already swollen river and their realization will only hasten the George’s obsolescence as a cycling facility8  – unless the Port Authority upgrades its plans.

Thank you.

Neile Weissman, 2018


[1] Bergen County Parks Master Plan, Rutgers Center for Urban Environmental Sustainability, p. 139-145, 181-192, https://tinyurl.com/ydx4xm6m

[2] About the Atlanta Beltline, https://tinyurl.com/ybfcflqv

[3] Connecting Communities, NYC DOT/AECOM, p. 3, https://tinyurl.com/yc5ac9h2

[4] Ibid, p. 4.  

[5] East Coast Greenway, https://www.greenway.org       

[6] Empire State Trail FAQ, Parks & Trails New York, https://tinyurl.com/z64j55m

[7] “Creating an effective network also means improving major crossings between the greater region and NYC, including the Brooklyn and George Washington Bridges.”; Regional Plan Associationhttp://tinyurl.com/ydba4gk5

[8] “Capacity and Demand, Complete George, http://tinyurl.com/jpcfphqr