24/7 Commuter Bicycle Access for the Mario Cuomo Tappan Zee Bridge

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The Shared Use Path (SUP) on the Mario Cuomo Tappan Zee Bridge should be open every day with no limitations on its hours of operation.

NY State Taxpayers' $4 billion investment in this new bridge includes a new 12 ft wide Shared Use Path (SUP) for bicycles and pedestrians, valued at about $260 million. When it opens later this year, the SUP will offer a new bicycle commuting option that has never existed before in the Lower Hudson Valley. It's expected to be popular with weekend cyclists, however, much less attention has been given to the benefits of the bike/ped path for Mon-Fri commuters.

Although it offers recreational features, the SUP is not a park -- it's a NYS Thruway-built transportation corridor.  The Shared Use Path can encourage future bicycle commuting in the Lower Hudson Valley but for that to happen, the SUP needs to operate on an weekday schedule that encourages people to leave their cars at home. Neighborhood concerns raised by residents who live adjacent to the bridge landings can be addressed without limiting the substantial bicycle commuting the SUP will offer:

* Like the new HudsonLink bus system, trans-Hudson bicycle commuting “will not only help to ease congestion and improve air quality, but ultimately provide New Yorkers with a safer, more convenient way to commute." It will also ease congestion and parking in Nyack and Tarrytown, especially near the Metro-North station.

* The Shared Use Path can be a transportation alternative for people without cars to get to Metro North and jobs in Tarrytown and beyond; especially locations not well served by HudsonLink. Commuters from lower income households are more likely to be bicycle commuters than the general population; 13% of Nyack residents live below the poverty line. 

* The bike/ped path will benefit employers and employees on both sides of the river especially late-night shifts in service jobs.

* Greener, healthier communities: the 2010 Mid-Hudson Regional Greenhouse Gas Inventory found that the transportation sector accounts for as much as 45% of greenhouse gas emissions in the river villages. The Village of Nyack Sustainability Committee and the Sierra Club Lower Hudson Group have endorsed 24/7 operation of the Shared Use Path.

* It's the law: Because it was built with federal loans, the bridge must conform to Federal Highway Regulations which require transportation agencies to give the same priority to walking and bicycling as given to other transportation modes.

The SUP should be open 24/7 just like all other bridges in the NY Metropolitan Planning Area (NYMTC) to which both Rockland and Westchester belong. These bike paths include include the Williamsburg, Brooklyn, RFK, and the Koch Bridges. All are 24/7, with the exception of the George Washington Bridge (The GWB path is open from 6a-12m for post-9/11 security reasons that don't apply to the new bridge). 

It makes sense that this new bridge, built to meet the needs of the community for the next 100 years, should be governed by policies that embrace the challenge of the current century and not repeat the mistakes of the last one. Governor Cuomo and Executive Director Driscoll, please operate the Shared Use Path without any restrictions on its hours. 


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