Letter to Port Authority on GWB Improvements

February 10, 2017

February 10, 2017

 

Chairman John Degnan

Executive Director Patrick Foye

Port Authority of New York & New Jersey

 

Re: Ten-year Capital Plan

 

Dear Chairman Degnan and Executive Director Patrick Foye,

We would like to thank the Port Authority for the improvements to the George Washington Bridge bike paths that are scheduled to begin construction this spring. We believe these improvements, namely the rebuild of the four entrances and the separation of bike riders from pedestrians, will make the bike paths safer and more accessible to additional riders. We believe these enhancements to the bridge will serve the increasing number of bike riders taking advantage of this crossing between states.

We have reviewed the Authority’s new Ten-Year Capital Plan and we appreciate that the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey holds in its portfolio of properties some of the New York metropolitan area’s most iconic transportation infrastructure. As bicycling in the region continues to grow, bike riders, both those who ride for recreation and those who are dependent upon bicycles as their primary mode of transport, are in need of improved facilities and multimodal connections across bridges and to airports, train stations, and ferry terminals. Therefore, as access to these facilities was included in the Bicycle Master Plan, we would like to see them contained within the Ten-Year Capital Plan. Also, to accommodate the Bicycle Master Plan and to be able to integrate sustainable modes of transportation in the region, we encourage the Port Authority to aim for at least 1% of your capital budget to be dedicated to bicycle improvements across the Authority’s transportation assets.

As we described above, the “Restoring the George” program, a centerpiece of the plan, provides an excellent opportunity to invest in the use of the George Washington Bridge by nonmotorized transport, which we expect will continue to increase. Counts made public in 2016 show that cyclists and pedestrians are increasingly choosing to use the George Washington Bridge for both commuting and recreation. At present, the multi-use paths go through narrow openings in the bridge’s towers. Cyclists are required to dismount in order to proceed, according to Port Authority policy. We feel the Capital Plan will be made better if it included an exploration into the possibility of constructing paths around the towers, which would reduce backups at the towers, increase safety and make the bridge fully ridable.

Bicycles are no longer only for leisure; they are a way for thousands of New Yorkers and New Jerseyans to commute. Due to the unique geography and transportation options of our area, it is an affordable and environmentally friendly option to ride a bicycle to public transportation. Thank you for accommodating additional bike parking at the Journal Square PATH station; the new bike racks there are very useful and attractive. As you know, fully used bike racks are a sign of increasing demand for bike-to-PATH connections, which should be encouraged and supported, so that bike riders will be able to take advantage of our world-class transit network. Likewise, bike parking should be provided at ferry ports.

Bicycles should also be considered as a transportation mode to the Port Authority’s airports. They can be a convenient and affordable mode of transportation for airport employees, as well as for passengers eager to skip the worsening congestion that impedes motor vehicle travel. We urge updates to bicycle access at LaGuardia, JFK, and Newark. At present, there are no protected paths providing a route in and out of these airports; we urge collaboration with the New York City and New Jersey Departments of Transportation to create these lanes. While there are bike racks at LaGuardia Airport, the closest ones to JFK are located at the AirTrain station in Jamaica, Queens. With regard to Newark Airport, access has been hindered by NJ TRANSIT time restrictions on traveling with bikes.

The Port Authority has much to be proud of in the success of the World Trade Center complex. In the years since the Bicycle Master Plan was published, it has become a major tourist attraction, retail location, business zone, and architecturally significant transportation hub. We would love to see bike parking added to the list of assets, for the convenience of employees, commuters, and visitors.

The goals of your 2010 Bicycle Master Plan included meeting emerging demand by integrating improved bicycle access, safe bicycle lanes, and secure bicycle parking and storage into existing Port Authority facilities. We urge the Authority to continue to make progress on these goals, as well as on the development of multi-modal transit hubs that encourage biking and walking. We look forward to continuing to work with you in the future to make Port Authority properties a model for world-class bicycling infrastructure in New York and New Jersey.

 

Sincerely,

Paul Steely White, Executive Director, Transportation Alternatives

Cyndi Steiner Executive, Director, New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition

Ken Podziba, President & CEO, Bike New York

Veronica Venterpool, Executive Director, Tri-State Transportation Campaign

Patrick Conlon, President, Bike JC

Bill Mastro, President, Five Borough Bicycle Club

Paul Winkeller, Executive Director, New York Bicycling Coalition