by Michael Oliva
The new Tappan Zee Bridge is scheduled to last over 100 years. Often, when major transportation infrastructure projects like this are planned, biking and walking are often an after thought.
Cycling is currently enjoying unprecedented growth as a form of exercise, a pleasurable recreational pastime and a viable transportation option and will continue to do so as local population density increases, our society becomes more health conscious and fuel prices continue to rise.
It is imperative that the new bridge include continuous uninterrupted bicycle and pedestrian pathways that connect conveniently to local villages on both sides of the river.
Currently proposed plans include fifteen foot wide shared bicycle/pedestrian pathways on both the north and south sides of the new bridge. There are also three proposed connection/terminus points on the Westchester side of the bridge including Broadway (Route 9) in Tarrytown (from the north pathway), Van Wart Ave. in Irvington (from the south pathway) and a connection to the planned Westchester Riverwalk via an ADA compliant ramp from the south pathway.
Although various bridge design alternatives are under consideration and a final preferred alternative has not yet been selected, its important that transportation officials include both the north and south bicycle/pedestrian pathways.
The Westchester-Putnam Bike Walk Alliance, www.westchesterbikewalk.org is trying to not let bicycling and walking be put on back burner with new Tappan Zee Bridge project. It is crucial that advocates get involved in the project early to ensure adequate biking and walking facilities are included and stay that way as various bridge configurations and plans change over the next couple of years. The most important objective is to ensure that pathways are included on both the north and south sides of the new bridge.
It is time that bicycling and walking receives the same attention that rail, buses and automobiles do when it comes to planning and implementing key transportation infrastructure. The Westchester-Putnam Bike Walk Alliance has created an online petition supporting bicycling and walking on the new Tappan Zee Bridge for advocates of these paths to show their support to regional transportation officials.
Michael Oliva is Co Founder Westchester-Putnam Bike Walk Alliance and Mid Atlantic Coordinator, East Coast Greenway. You can write to him at email@example.com