The city finally has a plan to get bicyclists on the new — yet still closed— Goethals Bridge bicycle and pedestrian path, but it’s going to take some extra pedaling.

More than a year after the bridge between Staten Island and Elizabeth, N.J. opened to cars and trucks, the Department of Transportation has finally unveiled a plan [PDF] that forces bicyclists to make a detour around and under the six-lane, cable-stayed twin structure to avoid conflicts with trucks.

The Goethals bike path can only be entered on the south side of desolate (but truck-heavy) Goethals Road North between Western and Forest avenues near the entrance to the New York Container Port on the Arthur Kill, the strait separating New York from New Jersey (see map below).

Heavy truck traffic headed into the terminal on the one-way, three-lane Goethals Road North would endanger Jersey-bound cyclist, so a plan had to be hatched to safely route cyclists away from the trucks and other vehicular traffic (given that DOT and the Port Authority did not consider methods to reduce or re-route the truck traffic).

Thus, a new, protected bike lanes will be built along Gulf Avenue on the south side of the bridge, and cyclists will use an already-existing sidewalk on Goethals Road North to make a very roundabout way back to civilization, according to the plan.

It’s tough to describe what cyclists will have to do to get to and from the bridge in this narrative, so here are some bullet points to break it down for you:

The bike lane exit leaves cyclists on the south sidewalk of Goethals Road North. So to get to points east:

The city did not want cyclists simply heading from Forest Avenue onto Goethals Road North, so to get to the bridge, cyclists have a long detour:

Port Authority officials said the pathway had to be installed on the north side of the bridge because connecting cars to the New Jersey side took precedence.

“There was no connectivity on the New Jersey side to the connections to the Turnpike,” said Steve Coleman, a spokesman for the Port Authority.

Coleman added that the northern exposure will also offer pedestrians and cyclists stunning views of the Bayonne Bridge and the Jersey City and Manhattan skylines, something that would have been obscured had the path been built on the south side.

Staten Island cyclists said the plan wasn’t perfect, but it was the best the city could do in an area that is not the friendliest environment for cyclists and pedestrians.

“I hope it is safe,” said Laura Barlament, who lives, works, and bikes on Staten Island. “But I’m super excited to ride my bike over the bridge to a part of New Jersey that was inaccessible.”

Still, activists wondered why it took so long for the two agencies to get together and work something out.

“It’s been frustrating for everyone,” said Rose Uscianowski of Transportation Alternatives. “It took until the bridge was complete for the DOT and the Port Authority to get together. C’mon. They were working on the bridge for more than five years.”

Uscianowski added that it will still be difficult to get to the bridge because Staten Island is sorely lacking in bicycle infrastructure.

“This gets you closer to the bridge, but there are still lots of main arteries that are being ignored,” she said, noting that Forest Avenue doesn’t have a bike lane to connect to. “They’re looking at the immediate area around the bridge, and not the island as a whole.”

Construction on the bike path will begin “this fall” according to the Port Authority, and the bridge path will open upon its completion, which the agency says is “weather dependent.” It is unlikely the work will be done before the summer of 2020.

The Department of Transportation did not initially comment, but after initial publication of this story, DOT sent over the following statement:

Though we do not have a projection on how many pedestrians and bicyclists will use the path, we anticipate it will be primarily recreational use with some weekday commuters.

Port Authority and DOT plan to start on street work this year; completion is weather dependant [sic]. We are working to get final community board approvals this week.

DOT has been in discussions with the Port Authority about this path for about a year. Finalizing a design took time because this is a complex area with heavy truck traffic moving between the port facilities and the bridge.

Port Authority is considering a phase II project to connect pedestrians to existing sidewalks on the north side of Goethals Road North; Port Authority can confirm the timing of that project.

The city will present the plan to the public and the Staten Island Community Board 2 Traffic and Transportation Committee at 7:30 p.m. at New Drop Moravian Church at 2025 Richmond Road.  

The Port Authority opened a bicycle and pedestrian path on the recently raised Bayonne Bridge, which connects Staten Island to Bayonne, New Jersey, late last spring. That path, while awesome, has its own connectivity issues.

Not many people live in that part of SI and don’t expect many SI cyclists to make the long trek to the Goethals bike path.

Some bizarre stuff in there – pouring new concrete to widen sidewalks but keeping them still very narrow, with a vertical curb dropoff at the edge of where people will be cycling, next to a 45 FOOT WIDE SINGLE LANE on Western Ave.

If volumes are low enough to justify a shared sidewalk they should make it an asphalt multiuse path instead (eg like the path along the east side of Flatbush Ave next to Floyd Bennett Field), but with proper protected intersection treatments unlike most of what exists today in NYC.

What a joke! It will take another 9+ months to put a bike lane on Gulf Road. Seriously? There’s some seriously fishy stuff going on here.

I don’t understand why it has to be done this way. All truck traffic entering the container terminal on N Goethals Rd, leaves the terminal on Gulf Rd. The sidewalk puts cyclists on the north side of Gulf Rd. So the cyclists will either have to cross the entrance ramp onto I-278 where most of the trucks exit, or cross the road to avoid that.

There was no statement as to which side of Gulf Rd the bicycle path will be on and that matters a lot. The truck traffic is the same on both roads.

Just install a traffic light/crossing and build a bike path on the north side of N Goethals. That would be much safer.

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Just one thing bothers me with the Bayonne Bridge Path, namely our propensity of protecting people from themselves. A 4-foot high fence would be much more appropriate in that it would still keep cyclists or pedestrians from accidentally falling off, but wouldn’t spoil the view. Maybe they should at least use plexiglass above the 4 foot line if we insist on having “suicide” fences.

So dumb – stupid MTA needs to do this for the Verrazano bridge! Hello…. MTA? Why can’t you connect our City for pedestrians and cyclists? This is such a waste of time & I bet most city residents (including Staten islanders) will never use this

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