the slow lane

Light at the End of the Bridge for Staten Island Cyclists

The Goethals Bridge bike path, which is supposed to open “early in the new year,” according to Port Authority. It was originally projected to open in 2018.
The Goethals Bridge bike path, which is supposed to open “early in the new year,” according to Port Authority. It was originally projected to open in 2018. Photo: Courtesy the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey

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The long-delayed opening of a path for cyclists and pedestrians along the new Goethals Bridge is finally in sight.

The Port Authority had planned to open the 10-foot-wide shared path in the summer of 2018 — but it’s sat unused, thanks to issues over safely getting people on and off the passageway. Agency officials now say they’re “hopefully” on track to open the path in early 2020.

That would be more than a year-and-a-half after vehicles began crossing the newest span of the $1.5 billion bridge linking Staten Island and Elizabeth, N.J.

“I’ve been waiting and waiting, asking questions of the Port Authority and of the city and visiting the site and looking for why there is no access,” said Laura Barlament, a Staten Island cyclist. “It’s really disappointing that it’s taken this long.”

‘It’s Been Done’

A Port Authority spokesperson said the agency is close to finalizing “a few more issues” with the city of Elizabeth after it previously worked with the New York City Department of Transportation to give cyclists pedaling off the Goethals safe passage onto Staten Island.

“That’s been the issue going back for more than a year,” the Port Authority’s Steve Coleman told THE CITY. “We need to make sure there is a way for people to get off the bridge safely.”

The shared path on the bridge was largely completed when the Goethals’ northern span opened in May 2018, but there were no safe connections to local streets on either side.

“The pathway itself is done, it’s been done,” said Rose Uscianowski, Staten Island organizer for the advocacy organization Transportation Alternatives. “But they really should have figured out the rest of the infrastructure a long time ago.”

Cyclists crossing the bridge onto Staten Island would have gone onto Goethals Road North, the busy main entryway for trucks headed to the Global Container Terminal, a sprawling trucking and shipping facility.

So the city Department of Transportation had to come up with safer ways to get bicycles and pedestrians off the bridge, into Staten Island’s neighborhoods — and away from trucks.

‘A Frustrating Situation’

The agency “is working with the Port Authority to provide additional pedestrian improvements off the bridge path,” a DOT spokesperson said in a statement to THE CITY. It is also “developing additional on-street connections to connect users to the exiting Staten Island bike lane network.”

Barlament, 48, described the connections to the Goethals Bridge as “a roundabout way of getting there,” but said she is hopeful the opening of the cyclist and pedestrian path is not further delayed.

The Goethals Bridge as seen from the Staten Island side.
The Goethals Bridge as seen from the Staten Island side. Photo: Mike Dombrowski/Courtesy the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey

Staten Island has 103 miles of bike lanes, the least of any borough, according to the Transportation Department. Barlament said Staten Island suffers from a “mindset” that its residents “don’t care about pedestrian and cycling facilities.”

“It’s just very limited for people who don’t have their own motorized vehicle, or who want to use a more environmentally friendly form of transportation,” she said. “It’s a frustrating situation.”

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