MTA Sets Course for New Bike Path on the Verrazano
by Mindy Cohn
A year after sharing plans for promoting bike lanes that connect all five boroughs, the MTA released its new 92-page strategic action plan on Wednesday, including a blueprint to promote bike lanes on MTA bridges and at stations and bus stops.
A year ago, the MTA Bike Access Bill was lauded as the final step for connecting all five boroughs with safe bike lanes on MTA bridges while promoting cycling throughout the City.
Now, a year later, the plan is finally ready to share with the public. It includes a sequence of required steps to undertake before the bike lanes can be installed on the Verrazano Bridge.
Although the installation is still years away, at least steps in the right direction are being rolled out.
For years, cycling advocates from both Staten Island and Brooklyn have petitioned the city and the MTA to construct protected bike paths on the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge.
Efforts to implement such infrastructure have been ongoing since the late '90s, with the Department of City Planning having conducted a feasibility study back in 1997 that estimated individual pathways running between the suspender ropes on each side of the bridge's upper level would cost about $25 million.
Calls for bike paths resurged in 2007, when then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he would look into the proposal as the city began installation on much of the cycling infrastructure we see today.
In 2011, the Harbor Ring Committee, a group pushing to build a 50-mile pathway around New York Harbor by linking Staten Island, Brooklyn and Manhattan to Hoboken, Jersey City and Bayonne in New Jersey, picked up the cause, claiming that the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge was the missing 2.5-mile link needed to complete the route.
Three years later, the MTA conducted another feasibility study for the project, but this time engineers said that the installation of protected bike paths on the bridge could cost up to $400 million.
In August 2020, following a viral tweet showing a bicyclist riding across the lower level of the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, advocates from Bay Ridge launched an online petition urging the MTA and former Gov. Andrew Cuomo to convert one vehicle lane on the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge into a bike lane.
As has been the case throughout the years, the MTA denied that request, citing a lack of sufficient demand and claiming that reducing vehicle capacity to facilitate a bike lane would increase traffic congestion on the crossing.
"Recent Verrazano-Narrows Bridge bike access studies demonstrate little demand for crossing the longest suspension bridge in North America, which has very steep grades, high winds and high vehicle volume, plus a shifting HOV lane to accommodate thousands of Express buses," MTA spokeswoman Meredith Daniels told the Staten Island Advance/SILive.com at the time.
Photo by: Yossi Goldberger