Mario Cuomo Bridge Shared Use Path Hours: How You Can Help
By Rockland Bicycling Club on 2/14/19 updated 4/28/19
The mayor of South Nyack is on record saying the future shared use path should only be open during daylight hours. The RBC disagrees, and in January we wrote to NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo to tell him why: RBC Asks Governor, NYS Thruway Exec Director To Keep Mario Cuomo Bridge Shared Use Path Open 24/7
If you agree that this infrastructure investment should encourage people to try active, green and healthy bicycle commuting in the near future, write to Governor Andrew Cuomo, NYS Senator David Carlucci, Assemblywoman Ellen C. Jaffee and Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski to urge them to keep the SUP open 24/7 -- because it's a transportation corridor, not just a recreational bike path.
You can write to these elected leaders on their Facebook pages, or you can email or message them their respective websites:
- Gov Andrew Cuomo
- NYS Senator David Carlucci: Via email at email@example.com or through his website.
- Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee: email JaffeeE@nyassembly.gov or through her website
- Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski: email ZebrowskiK@nyassembly.gov or through his website.
A few factoids on why the bridge bike/ped path should be open 24/7
- Rockland & Westchester Counties are part of the same regional planning council (NYMTC) that includes NYC. The Brooklyn, Manhattan, Williamsburg, Koch, and RFK bridges are all open 24/7. The George Washington Bridge bike path is the only comparable bridge that limits its hours (12m-6a), but it was open 24/7 prior to security concerns following 9/11. Shouldn't the MCB SUP operating hours parallel what the majority of regional crossings already offer?
- Transportation corridor: The recently opened Hudson Link bus service supports cross county commuter needs from 5a-almost 1a. The Mario Cuomo Bridge, part of the NYS Thruway, is open 24/7. If the SUP is to be a reliable transportation alternative, it should be open at least as many hours as the commuter bus – more, in fact, because it can serve late night cross river traffic without any incremental cost. New York doesn't close the Thruway at midnight -- why should it close the Shared Use Path?
- Safety/Security: Local residents have expressed concerns about crime and noise if the SUP remains open after the sun goes down. But bicycle commuters do not use parking lots are not disruptive --- and they are far quieter than adjacent truck traffic on I-287.
There's no proof and logic to the expressed concern that bicycle commuters will cause mischief after hours. Unfortunately, fear of crime and diminished property values seems to be a common theme when bicycle facilities are proposed. In fact, they generally have the effect of decreasing crime due to more “eyes on the street,” as well as increasing property values (The misunderstood link between bike lanes, sidewalks, and crime, 1/25/2017)
A better approach would be to operate the recreational aspects of the SUP during daylight-hours only, while keeping the transportation aspects open 24/7. In practice, this would mean closing the parking lots and restricting nearby parking to resident-only. Bicycle commuters coming home late at night are quiet and will barely be noticed.
- Limiting SUP operations will discriminates against people who don't have cars: the US Census says, "The relatively high rates of biking and walking among lower-income workers may reflect financial necessity and lower rates of automobile ownership." Simply put, both Nyack and Tarrytown have families of lesser means -- the SUP, and the availability of e-bikes, means that you don't have to own a car or wait for mass transit to work / commute across the Hudson, providing greater flexibility for workers -- and an increased labor force for employers. Without the SUP, there is no way across the MCB without a car between 1a-5a; a real problem for lower-income workers with an early or late shift in Rockland or Westchester counties. "Active transportation facilities are particularly important in low-income and minority communities, or communities with high percentages of new immigrants. People in those communities are less likely to own vehicles, and unsafe streets might pose a barrier to using active transportation." -- US Dept of Transportation
- Active Transportation: Almost one in four adults in the United States report that they do not engage in any physical activity outside of their jobs. Sedentary lifestyles are an important reason that two of every three adults in the United States are overweight or obese. (Source: US DOT, Transportation.gov); while bicycle commutes offer an easy way to build exercise into one’s life while requiring minimum extra time. However, if the Shared Use Path has limited hours, it won't serve as a reliable source of exercise for people with cross-Hudson commutes.
- Environmental impact: Bicycles --- both electric and manual --- are the most carbon-efficient form of transportation ever invented. Bicycles need to be a critical part of a decarbonized future. Bicycle infrastructure also requires far less expense and environmental impact to build and maintain. People can only use bicycles to get where they need to go if the infrastructure supports it; hence 24/7 SUP as a critical part of that.
- Return on Taxpayer investment: Based on its footprint, the SUP is valued at $400 million. This resource, paid for by all New York taxpayers, should be maximized to return value for New York residents, businesses and visitors, not minimized because of specious arguments.
- Viva the village(s): Traditional downtown shopping, like that in Nyack and Tarrytown, now offers a more personable, more human-centric alternative to the malls and e-commerce. Driving and parking at the mall isn't pleasant, and an impersonal website offers no value-added. The best way for Hudson river villages with downtown shopping districts to continue to compete and thrive is to create an environment that (a) people want to be in, and (b) people can get to. Complete Streets and bicycle infrastructure a critical part of creating a pleasant, human-scale shopping district. Bicycles are an easy way to move through the kinds of "congested" areas in which people prefer to shop and linger. They are also easy and cheap to park close to one's shopping destination. The SUP will, for the first time, provide a direct bicycle link between the shopping districts of Nyack and Tarrytown; and it is essential that it remain open at least as long as the businesses on either side.
- Parking: Bicycles allow for more people to access places where people want to go --- shopping districts and train stations --- without further exacerbating parking problems. People who chose to bike are rewarded by being able to park their bicycles hassle-free. People who choose to drive also benefit due to less competition for parking from other drivers. It's a win-win situation. The SUP is a critical piece of infrastructure that will provide an alternative to Rockland County residents who current drive to Westchester and take up valuable parking spaces in the shopping district or at the train station. This problem will only become more critical as over 1,000 new units of housing are being built in Tarrytown and hundreds in Nyack.
- Mario Cuomo Bridge Shared Use Path Hours Should Be 24/7 by Elizabeth Fisher, Nyack News And Views, 3/3/2019
- Not ready for that ride yet: Cuomo bridge bike path months away, Journal News, 4/7/2019