A SHARED PATH REQUIRES SHARED RESPONSIBILITY
From New York State Thruway Authority Executive Director Matthew J. Driscoll:
The Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge Path has become the newest go-to destination in the Hudson Valley this summer. More than 120,000 people have walked or biked on the 3.6-mile shared use path with its signature blue overlay since it opened just two months ago. That’s an average of 1,800 people a day.
Whether on foot, by bike, bus or car, visitors have come to the path to experience unmatched views of the enchanting Hudson River and its surrounding villages; spend time with friends or family; exercise in the fresh air; admire the path’s many works of public art; or simply to get where they’re going.
This is what was envisioned when the Thruway Authority built the iconic cable-stayed crossing—a new link that connects and strengthens our communities in novel and profound ways.
At the Thruway Authority, our primary responsibilities, whether on the highway or the path, are maintaining user safety and providing a high-quality experience for our patrons.
The overwhelming majority of users understand they must share the path and act accordingly. They walk in single file when a pedestrian is approaching in the opposite direction. They bike at a reasonable speed and yield to pedestrians. But there is bound to be a learning curve about sharing the path.
We believe the key is education. To further enhance safety, we have installed additional signage and pavement markings, and lowered the speed limit to 5 mph as cyclists approach the six overlooks. Additionally, cyclists are now required to dismount at the landing plazas.
We have staff at both the Rockland and Westchester landings to remind visitors of their shared responsibilities. We are diligent about reminding people to wear a mask and maintain a safe distance, and have posted signage along the length of the path and at each overlook. State Police are charged with enforcement on the path, and we have strong existing partnerships with local first responders on both sides of the bridge. We have conducted meetings with our partners and have plans for trainings and drills to ensure response times to incidents are timely.
To date, there have been 15 reported incidents requiring an emergency response—representing just 0.01 percent of total path visitors—and more than half of those incidents involved heat exhaustion. This is not uncommon during hot summer months.
Part of our job in maintaining the Thruway is to influence behavior, such as reminding people to slow down and move over for maintenance workers and first responders. We are committed to continue to educate people about the path in the same way.
In these early days, some trends have emerged. Weekdays are less crowded than weekends. Early mornings are among the least busy times; the path opens daily at 6 a.m. and closes at 10 at night.
The success of the path requires our collective responsibility. Cyclists and pedestrians must remain aware of their surroundings. Let’s act respectfully toward each other. If you bring a young child for a walk, hold their hand. And the path probably isn’t the best place to teach them how to ride a bike.
Some have suggested we impose limits on when cyclists or pedestrians can visit. We have no plans to make such changes because we will not limit access for people with disabilities or those who use the path to commute to work. We will, however, continue to gather more data and information to make informed decisions as we are open to changes that improve this resource for the community.
In these stressful times, the path has offered many people a bit of an escape. As New Yorkers, we’ve spent this year successfully caring for each other, so we know we’re capable. If we apply the same bit of attention on the path, we can make sure that everyone who uses it has a safe and enjoyable experience.
- Daily hours of operation: 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
- Path length: 3.6 miles
- Path width: 12 feet
- Bicycle speed limit: 15 mph
- Bicycle speed limit at overlooks: 5 mph
- Approximate walk time from end to end: 80 minutes
- Approximate bike time from end to end: 20 minutes