By Joe Kuhn
A path for cyclists and pedestrians has officially opened on the new Tappan Zee Bridge, officially named the Mario M. Cuomo Bridge. Early Monday afternoon Governor Cuomo officially announced the opening of the long awaited 3.6 mile “shared use path” that runs across the north span of the bridge connecting Westchester and Rockland counties.
The new path has six stops or “belvederes” that will provide scenic views of the Hudson Valley as well as seating areas with Wi-Fi access and bicycle repair stations. “This bridge has energized the economy for the entire region, and I think with this shared use path, we are going to see even more people enjoying it” said the governor during the official ribbon cutting ceremony.
Governor Cuomo was pleased to be unveil the path on his father’s 88th birthday and optimistic that the trail will be a big boon to the local economy. Each belvedere along the bridge contains information about local business and the governor expects the path to be a major tourist destination. Despite the excitement of finally being able to accesses the bridge, some local cyclists have taken a pessimistic view of the path. Members of advocacy group Bike Tarrytown were on hand to protest the ceremony, complaining that the state government has overlooked some key safety and accessibility features.
The paths current hours of operation, 6 a.m. – 10 p.m., place limits on those planning on using it to commute across the river while the failure to establish a crosswalk on the Tarrytown side of the bridge has created a safety hazard, according to the organization. In order to access the entrance to the Tarrytown landing cyclists must cross Route 9, a five lane highway known for heavy traffic: Bike Tarrytown has repeatedly petitioned the Governor to establish a crosswalk that allows cyclists to safely cross directly to the landing but so far their requests “have gone ignored.”
Rockland County Legislator James Foley, who represents the South Nyack area, said, “The path on the new TZ Bridge is undoubtably bringing traffic and people from outside of Rockland resulting in some congestion near the South Nyack entrance. I had a constituent today pointing out some parking issues visitors were creating, which seemed to be from GPS guidance bringing people to an area other than where they should be parking.
“These parking issues will hopefully be sorted out by South Nyack exercising home rule, and South Nyack creating a solution that suits the South Nyack residents near the Path entrance , and I am open to participating in that process should South Nyack Government or residents want me to.”
Despite those concerns pedestrians have already started enjoying the walkway and the governor’s office estimates that more than 8,000 people could use the path every day. Food trucks, seating areas, and restrooms are already available at either entrance to the walkway, and while motorized vehicles are banned, the path has almost immediately become a popular destination for cyclists and those who use ebikes. The speed limit for the path is set at 15 mph and social distancing and face masks are a must for anyone looking to enjoy the scenic new route.