North Jersey and New York City are moving forward on plans that will dramatically expand cycling across the region. Unfortunately, they also will hasten the GWB’s obsolescence as a cycling facility.
Statement to the Port Authority of NY&NJ, 5/24/2018
Chairman O’Toole, Today, I will highlight two recent developments poised to significantly grow cycling across the region and, consequently, across its sole bikeable connector.
Bergen Parks Master Plan
Developed by Rutgers CUES, the Bergen Parks Master Plan1 would connect its million residents via a network of streets, trails and utility right of ways. It references Atlanta’s Beltline2 as example of a city employing active transportation to connect remote communities.
Together with NY-NJ Trail Conference, Jersey Off Road Bike Association and Palisades MTB, the County will seek to develop a model for sustainable hiking and biking trails within designated parks. Once complete, it would extend park access to some of the most densely populated places in the U.S. – many of which face a parkland deficit.
Images Rutgers CUES and NYC DOT/AECOM.
Harlem River Bridge Access
New York City DOT also just announced a $90 million program to expand bicycle-pedestrian capacity across seven Harlem River bridges connecting Manhattan and the Bronx. The goal is to reduce the distance between bicycle crossings from every three miles to one mile, so that no detour would require more than a 10-minute ride.3
Current peak use across the Harlem River bridges is 3900 cyclists per day.4 For comparison, NYC’s four East River Bridges is 20,000 per day – but that’s up from 3000 cyclists per day twenty years ago – before DOT began a similarly dramatic expansion of access.
The Bergen and New York plans will connect to the East Coast Greenway,5 Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge6 and Empire State Trail,7 and help to realize the Regional Plan Association’s vision of a 1650 mile Tri-State Trail Network.8
Together, they will satisfy the public’s desire for high-quality recreational space and for safe, cheap, efficient, sustainable and healthy modes of transit. From a cyclist’s perspective, they’re flat out awesome.
Both plans, however, will flow like tributaries to an already swollen river. Their realization will only hasten the George’s obsolescence as a cycling facility – unless the PA takes the opportunity of the recabling to upgrade its paths to comply with national standards.9
 Bergen County Parks Master Plan, Rutgers Center for Urban Environmental Sustainability, p. 139-145, 181-192, https://tinyurl.com/ydx4xm6m
 About the Atlanta Beltline, https://tinyurl.com/ybfcflqv
 Connecting Communities, NYC DOT/AECOM, p. 3, https://tinyurl.com/yc5ac9h2
 East Coast Greenway, https://www.greenway.org
 With the opening of the mixed use path on the Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge, the GWB will bracket a 42 mile recreational loop drawing cyclists from across the region., https://www.newnybridge.com
 Empire State Trail FAQ, Parks & Trails New York, https://tinyurl.com/z64j55m
 “Creating an effective network also means improving major crossings between the greater region and NYC, including the Brooklyn and George Washington Bridges.”; Regional Plan Association, http://tinyurl.com/ydba4gk5
 Capacity and Demand, Complete George, http://tinyurl.com/jpcfphqr