Connecting the NYC greenway network
Greenways create essential public space for human-powered transportation and healthful outdoor recreation; provide numerous environmental benefits; offer sustainable low-cost transportation alternatives; foster tourism and create jobs; and provide connection to job centers and transit.
New York City has a 400-mile network of greenways on paper. About 300 miles of greenways run through every part of the city. But today, they rarely connect to each other, older segments require upgrades, and new parts of the network are still too few and far between. Connecting disparate, isolated greenways will create a citywide open space and transportation network that will be essential infrastructure for an equitable and sustainable future.
In this moment of increased attention to the vital importance of equitable infrastructure, climate action, and economic recovery, dozens of greenway-aligned groups from across the city came together as the NYC Greenway Coalition to catalyze increased investment and political will toward completion of a 5-borough greenway system that also connects with regional networks like the 750-mile Empire State Trail, 175-mile Long Island Greenway, and 3,000-mile East Coast Greenway.
Equitable neighborhood open space: Greenway development creates safe, usable open spaces across communities more quickly and readily than creation of new parks or plazas, and creates easy connections to existing parks and waterfronts to neighborhoods underserved by open space.
Affordable mobility: Fully separated routes for bicycles and small electric vehicles will allow many more people to use these options for commuting, errands, and social visits. And effective transit-to-bike connections can multiply the utility of transit investments tremendously, replicating the door to door efficiency of many urban car trips while replacing personal or for-hire vehicle use.
Public health: During the pandemic, New Yorkers have taken to greenways, bike lanes, bridge walkways and low-traffic streets like never before for outdoor exercise, fresh air, and to get around their neighborhood or borough. Allowing New Yorkers of all ages and abilities to stay or get active is a healthy development that we should encourage and build on.
Jobs: An ambitious greenway effort in New York City would represent a cornerstone of a Green New Deal program to put New Yorkers to work. The East Coast Greenway Alliance estimates that 17,000 jobs are directly created for each $1 billion invested in greenways, and that greenway development supports more jobs than comparable spending on highways.
Climate Sustainability: Reducing our climate impact requires attractive alternatives to car use and their associated greenhouse gas emissions while also adding critical nature-based solutions and green infrastructure – vegetation cover to increase carbon sequestration and stormwater capture, creation of habitat corridors, and urban cooling.
Resilience: Greenways help New York City resilience. When Hurricane Sandy shut down the subways in 2012, bike use of the Williamsburg Bridge more than doubled. During the COVID-19 pandemic, user counts on the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway quadrupled, even in the absence of traditional office commutes or any tourism.
[maps from the deck — vision of citywide greenway network + current status map]
‘Greenway Stimulus’ Could Bring Boom in Bike and Walking Trails (John Surico for Bloomberg CityLab)
Dream of Connected NYC Greenway Re-Envisioned as Path to COVID Recovery (Jose Martinez for THE CITY)
Coalition calls for Federal investment to connect NYC Greenways (March 10, 2021 letter to NYC Congressional Delegation)
Bike New York
Bike South Brooklyn
Bronx Council for Environmental Quality
Bronx River Alliance
Brooklyn Greenway Initiative
Center for an Urban Future
City Parks Foundation
East Coast Greenway Alliance
Eastern Queens Greenway
Families for Safe Streets
Five Borough Bike Club
Friends of the Hutchinson River Greenway
Gowanus Canal Conservancy
Guardians of Flushing Bay
Harlem River Working Group
I Challenge Myself
Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy
Motor Parkway East
National Parks Conservation Association
Natural Areas Conservancy
New Yorkers for Parks
NYC Environmental Justice Alliance
Parks & Trails New York
Rails to Trails Conservancy
Randall’s Island Park Alliance
Regional Plan Association
Riverside Park Conservancy
The Gaia Institute
The Leaf Island Team
Trust for Public Land
Untapped New York
Van Cortlandt Park Alliance