2017/11 – Ways the PA’s GWB Plan Gets it Wrong

The PA’s plan to restore the GWB paths to their 1931 pedestrian layout is littered with bad decisions.  Here’s eight.


#1 – It doesn’t provide safe capacity for current use, let alone growth.

Peak use across the GWB averaged 521 users per hour in 2015 – well exceeding the 300 UPS threshold AASHTO employs to recommend a 14 foot wide path. Yet the PA still plans to allocate cyclists a single 7 foot path starting in 2024.

Meanwhile, peak use across the GWB grew 10.4% per year between 2010 and 2015.  That compares to annual growth of 12.5% across NYC overall.

AASHTO1American Association of State and Highway Traffic Officers Bicycle Design Guide, 2012.

#2 – It will expose the PA to frequent and expensive litigation.

The PA has already acknowledged the potential for increased litigation by agreeing to segregate pedestrian and bicycle traffic … With this decision already made, a flood of lawsuits is likely to follow if it postpones action (i.e., simply sits on its hands) for the years required to complete the Restore the George project. – Safety, Litigation and the Demise of Cycling on the GWB

#3 – It won’t alleviate crash hazards. 

The current path threatens cyclists with a gauntlet of stationary crash hazards set at 60 foot intervals.  The PA’s plan keeps this configuration in place.

_RAL1346 (2)Photo Daniel Panzer.

#4 – Adding “gathering places” to entrances will create new bottlenecks.

Screen Shot 2017-09-29 at 9.40.53 AM.pngProposed entrances to North Path. New York and New Jersey. Images PANYNJ.

On the New York side, these places will be located at the bottom of graded ramps that cyclists will naturally descend at speed to exit and will have to accelerate to enter.  In New Jersey, cyclists traveling south on Hudson Terrace must make fast left turns against oncoming traffic to access the Bridge.

On both sides, they’ll be forced through crowds encouraged by the PA’s plan. Predictably, cyclists will be obliged to dismount, backing up traffic on the span.

Screen Shot 2017-09-26 at 12.31.51 AM.pngManhattan Bridge on Bike to Work Day.  Photo by Robert Wright, aka Invisible Man.

#5 – Adding “wedges” to the towers will increase crashes.

Screen Shot 2017-10-31 at 8.07.26 AM.pngImage PANYNJ.

The four towers straddling the length of the paths comprise their scariest parts. Unless the paths themselves are widened, adding “wedges” to allow converging cyclists to maintain speed will increase crashes’ incidence and severity.

screen-shot-2017-01-29-at-10-1-40-27-am-1Image The Radavist.

#6 – It won’t accommodate CitiBike.

With bikeshare expanding up both sides of the Hudson, how will providers load-balance rush hours if cyclists are allocated a single 7 foot path?

image1 (1).jpgCitiBike 12-unit transporter.  Photo by Susan Brennan.

#7 – It won’t accommodate handcycles or racing wheelchairs.

AASHTO guidelines encompasses tandems, trailers, recumbents and other non-standard bicycle configurations. (ADA doesn’t provide for bicycles at all.)

Screen Shot 2017-05-07 at 5.43.19 PMHandcyclist in Central Park. Wheelchair racers from ING NYC Marathon.

#8 – The new anti-suicide barriers will block historic views.

Generations have cherished views of Manhattan and the Palisades from the paths.  But the PA’s proposed anti-suicide barriers, with its prison-like bars, would permanently – and needlessly – obstruct these legendary views.

Compare the PA’s plan (left) with a bi-level arrangement that retains the view from the pedestrian path.  Using a Walkway over the Hudson model, that’s worth $42 million per year in new tourist spending.

Screen Shot 2017-10-31 at 5.24.41 PM.pngRenderings PANYNJ (left) and Joseph Lertola (right).