Street Beat: Nyack Chooses a Bicycling and Walking Partner

Fitzgerald & Halliday Inc (FHI), a firm with transportation, community design, environmental and stakeholder outreach skills, has been selected to design a bicycle / walk master plan that covers the three river villages and the Nyack School District. FHI will partner with Street Plans, an award winning planning and design practice based in New York and Miami with expertise in bicycle/pedestrian planning and “quick build” project implementation.

“We have a reputation as a walkable village. We are also a popular cycling destination,” said Nyack Mayor Jen White. “Through a generous grant from the New NY Bridge Community Fund, we will be able to harness the expertise of Fitzgerald & Halliday to design a transportation network that makes it easier to get around the villages without a car.”

The Greater Nyack Bike/Walk Master Plan will improve safety and create better connections:

  • between neighborhoods and local destinations (downtown, Nyack Beach State Park, Palisades Center, public transportation, etc) for walking and cycling.
  • to best manage the increased foot and cycling traffic that will occur after the new Mario M. Cuomo Tappan Zee Bridge Shared Use Path opens for joggers, walkers, cyclists and tourists in 2019.
  • for students and parents to get to and from Nyack Schools.

The Village of Nyack is the lead agency for this study which includes Nyack, Upper Nyack, South Nyack and the hamlets of Valley Cottage and Upper Grandview.

“Nyack Schools is excited about partnering with the Nyack river villages to make it easier and safer for our students to walk or bicycle in our community,” said Nyack Schools Board of Education President Karen Hughes. “Walking and riding a bicycle to school offers health, environmental and social benefits to our students, which will benefit everyone in the school district.”

FHI’s opening statement captured the attention of attendees when the design firm presented at a public meeting in Nyack in November: “This is more than a bicycle and pedestrian plan. FHI believes strongly in the value of mobility planning to achieve broader community goals.”

Bike Networks Offer Two Kinds of Green (Both Have Health Benefits)

Why is this happening now? Because things are changing. It’s not just because there’s a new blue bridge being built in Nyack’s backyard, although the Greater Nyack Bike/Walk Master Plan is being funded by the New York State Thruway and the Mario M. Cuomo Tappan Zee Bridge.

Both cycling fans and foes can agree on one thing: each year sees an increase in the number of serious cyclists who ride to or through Nyack. On a busy summer weekend as many as 5,000 cyclists from North Jersey and New York City will ride to Nyack and points further north. Yet, that’s not the segment that is likely to be the biggest user of a Nyack area bike / pedestrian network.

Studies show that a robust bike/ped network will mostly be used by nearby neighbors. Users of the Erie Canal Trailway in upstate New York typically live within five miles of the trail.

According to a study cited by Alta Planning, 64% of people who ride bicycles would prefer not to ride in the road with cars. It’s telling that a majority of the US adults ride a bicycle at least once a year — but for most of people, that once-a-year ride is when they are away on vacation. Boards of Health in municipalities across the country see this concern about cycling safety as an obstacle to better public health. After seeing a 127% increase in adult obesity, Moses Lake, WA adopted a Healthy Communities Action Plan requiring wider sidewalks and other features to encourage more walking and bicycle riding. The Rockland County Board of Health’s initiative to encourage municipalities to adopt Complete Streets resolutions that require consideration of all modalities (driving, walking, bicycling) and all users (adults, seniors, children, and people with mobility challenges) complements national smart growth efforts. The Village of Nyack’s Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) plan to create a bike path from downtown to Tarrytown has been enthusiastically received by parents of bicycled-aged children and recreational cyclists because it will add seven miles or bikeway where cyclists won’t have to share the road with cars.

In addition to its health benefits, bike networks also are good news for property owners: homes located near bicycle and walking networks sell faster and closer to the asking price.

Locals Praise Vendor Choice

A sketch of the bicycle once owned by American realist painter and Nyack native Edward Hopper. Note the wooden wheels on the bicycle. Illustration courtesy of Nyack Sketch Log artist and columnist Bill Batson.To purchase a T-Shirt with Batson’s Hopper Bicycle illustration, visit Maria Luisa boutique in Nyack.

Greater Nyack Bike/Walk committee members listened to seven presentations spanning two days last month before making a unanimous decision to choose Fitzgerald & Halliday. “FHI submitted a very detailed proposal that demonstrated extensive work with local communities/governments to make walking/cycling a larger part of the overall transportation system,” said Greater Nyack Bike/Walk Committee member and Upper Nyack 9W Bikes shop owner Matt Poole. “They have a head start working on this project because they know Nyack, having come to our community as a cycling destination over the past several decades.”

FHI brings 30 years of experience providing mobility planning, community planning, environmental services and public involvement services to the Nyack area project. “I’m grateful to be involved and thankful that the Greater Nyack Bike/Walk plan has prioritized Safe Routes to Schools and resident culture and lifestyle as part of this project,” said Nyack resident Bob Timm. “Fitzgerald & Halliday impressed the committee especially with their commitment to getting feedback from all Nyackers (long-timers and newbies) and ensuring that we all work together to create a safe and healthy plan for our kids and anyone in Nyack who wants to get around by bike or by foot.”

To join the mailing list for this project, email recreation@nyack-ny.gov with the subject line GNBWMP Committee.

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