Statement of Noah Budnick, Deputy Director for Advocacy, Transportation Alternatives to the New York City Hudson River Park Trust Public Meeting and Hearing on Pier 40 Redevelopment
May 3, 2007
Good evening, my name is Noah Budnick. I am the Deputy Director for Advocacy at Transportation Alternatives, New York City's advocates for biking, walking and sensible transportation.
Transportation Alternatives opposes any development plan that will increase the number of motorists who drive across the Hudson River Greenway, and we oppose any plan that will add driveways or other motor vehicle crossings across the greenway.
The Hudson River Greenway is the most heavily used bike path in the United States, it is a 24-hour, 365 day a year route. It is a unique car-free route in the U.S., in a dense urban environment, and there is broad consensus among park users, advocates and government that the bikeway and park are a work in progress and are in need of safety improvements. Until new designs are implemented to prioritize the safety of path users over the speed and convenience of drivers and to prevent motorist-greenway user conflicts, Transportation Alternatives strongly believes that there should be a moratorium on any new driveways, streets, service roads, ramps or other motor vehicle crossings across the greenway path. Right now, there are twenty-nine streets and driveways that cross the greenway. Adding even one more crossing is one more too many.
Conflicts between greenway users and drivers are far too frequent. Almost daily, Transportation Alternatives receives reports from cyclists who had near-misses or collisions with motorists driving across and sometimes on the bikeway. Twice this week, our staff stopped drivers from motoring down the bike path, and, fortunately, they were able to compel the drivers to stop and steer their vehicles off the greenway.
Others have been less fortunate. Everyone here painfully knows the mortal consequences of bicyclist-motorist conflicts on the Hudson River Greenway. Last year, Dr. Carl "Henry" Nacht and Eric Ng were fatally struck by drivers as they biked on the greenway. Both Dr. Nacht and Mr. Ng were experienced city cyclists, riding a route they had taken hundreds, if not thousands, of times before. Their deaths show how much peril the presence of cars and trucks cause for greenway users.
Every motorist that crosses the Hudson River Greenway is a threat to the safety of the over 10,000 people who visit the park each day. Research shows that intersections are particularly dangerous for cyclists. According to the City of New York's thorough multi-agency study of the last ten years of bicyclist fatalities and serious injuries (Bicyclist Fatalities and Injuries in New York City: 1996-2005, NYC Departments of Health and Mental Hygiene, Parks and Recreation, Transportation, and the New York City Police Department, 2006), 89% of all crashes occurred at or near intersections. Every additional crossing will bring more danger to walkers, bikers and skaters.
Any plans to redevelop Pier 40 must reduce the number of drivers who motor across the greenway. This means not including short-term parking and reducing long-term parking on the pier and finding other ways to raise revenue, and this means improving pedestrian, bicyclist and transit access to the pier and park. The greenway is already the most heavily used bike path in the country, and Pier 40 is only a five-minute walk to the nearest subway station and less to the nearest bus, but the pedestrian environment leading to and from the pier is dismal and must be improved to encourage more people to walk there.
Transportation Alternatives wants to see the Hudson River Greenway continue to be the busiest bicycle path in the United States, and the safest as well. This success will come from thoughtful planning, community involvement and open minds.