Rogue Riders Hit Bayonne Bridge — Before it Opens to Public

Cyclists are sick and tired of long-delayed project.

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A pair of pedestrian and bicycle paths connecting Staten Island to New Jersey remain closed even as they appear to be ready to ride, prompting some Rock cyclists to find out first hand what was taking so long.

Members of Transportation Alternatives Staten Island Activist Committee on May 18 biked part of the way over the Bayonne Bridge, which connects Port Richmond to New Jersey, after they noticed a gate blocking access to the span was open.

But they barely made it a third of the way to New Jersey before being ordered to turn around by construction workers who had parked a truck on the path while working on the span’s steel-arch.

Still, the riders were happy to get a taste of what is to come once the lane opens to the public.

“It’s wide, it’s beautiful, and it has a great view of Manhattan,” said Laura Barlament, who took the trip. “There are no stairs and a high fence, making it safe for bicyclists. The only problem is it still isn’t open.”

Also still-closed is the lane on the Goethals Bridge, which was scheduled to create a motor-free path between Elizabeth, N.J. and Arlington in the fall of 2018, but is still gated shut, as Barlament and her crew found out on Saturday.

“You can see the path from the street,” she said. “It really looks ready to go.”

When Streetsblog checked in with Port Authority of New York and New Jersey officials on Monday to get the latest timeline on the opening of the pathways we were told an announcement could come by the end of this week.

The end of the sidewalk at Goethals Bridge. The entrance to the bicycle path is past the overpass on the left, about 100 yards away and across three lanes of traffic. Photo: Vince DiMiceli
The end of the sidewalk at Goethals Bridge. The entrance to the bicycle path is past the overpass on the left, about 100 yards away and across three lanes of traffic. Photo: Vince DiMiceli

It is still unclear what is taking so long to get the bike paths open, but a visit to the Goethals Bridge entryway reveals one possible obstacle: it appears as if no thought was put into how to get cyclists and pedestrians from the street on to the bridge.

The access point sits on the side of a busy, three-lane, one-way road that funnels large trucks to the nearby New York Container Port shipping terminal. A brand new sidewalk appears to have been constructed leading away from civilization and toward Western Avenue, a street barely used by pedestrians and cyclists. The closest sidewalk headed back to Forest Avenue (and toward civilization) ends about 100 yards from the entry point.

Asked back in February if the city planned to do anything to make the pathway more accessible, Transportation Department spokesman Brian Zumhagen said the city had developed options for providing safe bicycle and pedestrian access, and was working with the Port Authority to get it done.

In the meantime, no work has been done, and the gates remain locked.

Both the Goethals and Bayonne paths will play a big part in what activists hope will create a “Harbor Ring” — a 50-mile pedestrian and bicycle pathway that hugs the shores of New York Harbor between points as far north as Hoboken and W. 39th Street in Manhattan, with a southern border along the North Shore of Staten Island.

But that plan hinges on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s constructing a walk-and- bikeway over the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, something members of Transportation Alternatives and other activists have been demanding for more than 20 years.

Earlier this week, MTA officials said such a pathway would cost close to $400 million, though activists have shown it could be built for less than $100 million.

The gated and locked entrance to the Goethals Bridge bicycle path. Photo: Vince DiMiceli
The gated and locked entrance to the Goethals Bridge bicycle path. Photo: Vince DiMiceli
  • 6SJ7

    The old Goethals Bridge had a walkway/bike path that only the brave used. Low railing.

  • Rose Uscianowski

    I’m one of the cyclists who made it onto the new pathway (and I used the old Bayonne pathway regularly back in the day.) The railing is much higher now making the pathway feel safe and comfortable. Plus, the views are indeed gorgeous!

  • I used it one time in 1985, in what was then my longest ride, a round-trip (including the Staten Island Ferry) between eastern Queens and Elizabeth.

  • 6SJ7

    How long did that ride take? Longest ride I did was in 1975 from my house (near 18 Ave & Ocean Pkwy) along various local streets to the Bay Ridge Avenue pier, then along the Belt Pkwy bike/pedestrian path to Bay Parkway, then the Belt Pkwy service road to Cropsey Ave, then along Neptune Avenue to Emmons Avenue & Nostrand Ave. I returned home via Avenue T to Ocean Pkwy. I seem to remember the whole trip took about 3 hours including a lunch stop at a Burger King on Cropsey Avenue. This ride was done on a Raleigh 10-speed bike. No helmet, no lights on the bike but plenty of reflective tape. Riding on narrow Bay Ridge Avenue the buses were less that 1′ away from me.

  • It took pretty much all day, probably something like eight hours. It would have taken me the better part of two hours to get to the Staten Island Ferry terminal from where I lived; and then let’s figure another hour for the wait plus the ferry ride. Then an hour for the bike ride across the north shore of Staten lsland plus the crossing of the bridge.

    I had a 10-speed (how I sat in that uncomfortable position I cannot imagine now); and of course I had no helmet or gloves.

    It felt like a pretty wild adventure, which it was for me at the time. I remember that I went bowling with some friends that night, and had a great time regaling them with the tale.

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