The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, the spectacular connection between Brooklyn and Staten Island, is open only to motorized traffic. It is off-limits to those traveling on foot and bicycle. In honor of the Verrazano’s upcoming 50th anniversary in 2014, we’re advocating for the construction of bicycle and pedestrian pathways over the bridge. These pathways would be the last link in 50-mile route around New York Harbor, known as the Harbor Ring, and would greatly benefit the health, emergency access, and economic viability of the neighboring communities in the NYC/NJ metropolitan area.
Built in 1964, the Verrazano Bridge was initially engineered to accommodate pedestrian and bicycle pathways stretching between Brooklyn and Staten Island, though the paths were ultimately never included in the final design. A 1997 study by the NYC Department of City Planning and the bridge’s engineers Amman and Whitney confirmed the feasibility of several options to enable bicycle and
pedestrian access, including a multi-use path. All of the proposed options are to the outside of the traffic lanes on the upper level, with a path on each side of the bridge, providing the best views and with no impact on motor vehicle traffic. In honor of the Verrazano’s upcoming 50th anniversary in 2014, we’re optimistic that the bridge will finally be completed, ultimately allowing for the full realization of the Harbor Ring.
The Harbor Ring (harborring.org) is a proposed 50-mile cycling and pedestrian route encircling New York Harbor. The route would integrate 28 miles of existing shared-use paths and bikeways connecting Manhattan, Brooklyn, Staten Island, Bayonne, Jersey City, and Hoboken, and would include another 20 miles of bike-friendly streets. Most of the 50-mile route can presently be used by pedestrians, cyclists, runners, and skaters. But the route is missing one critical link- bicycle and pedestrian access over the Verrazano Bridge.
A recent survey showed that 84% of over 700 respondents believed that the presence of bicycle and pedestrian pathways over the Verrazano Bridge would “strongly encourage” them to use a bicycle as transportation between Brooklyn and Staten Island, potentially easing congestion and facilitating access to a community with one of the longest commute times in the nation.
For decades, elected officials, community leaders, and residents from Brooklyn and Staten Island have called for universal access over the Verrazano Bridge. Support of the path would provide a much needed toll-free option that would benefit the health, emergency access, and economic viability of the neighboring communities.
New York University’s Rudin Center for Transportation studied Hurricane Sandy’s impact on New York City’s transportation infrastructure and recommended evaluating the addition of bicycle and pedestrian access across the Verrazano Bridge. Because the path over the Bayonne Bridge will close in 2013 for the bridge raising construction, it will leave Staten Islanders completely without a walkable route off the borough in times of emergency for at least two years.
We ask that Governor Cuomo support the proposed Verrazano Bridge path, and that the administration convene a meeting among the Harbor Ring Committee, other groups in support of the path, the MTA, and NYSDOT to discuss this opportunity and potential next steps.
A path on the Verrazano Bridge would provide numerous benefits to New Yorkers:
Active transportation and recreation for a cleaner, greener, healthier New York
Walkable emergency evacuation route off Staten Island in times of crisis
Tourist and quality of life benefits as part of the Harbor Ring
Increased real estate value to homes and businesses in neighboring communities
We appreciate your interest and look forward to working with you and your administration to make the most of this exceptional opportunity for New York.