A whole new world is again accessible to New Jersey cyclists now that the 12-foot-wide and 8,400-foot-long pedestrian and cycling path on the east side of the Bayonne Bridge is officially open from 6 a.m. to midnight daily.
It’s a nice upgrade from the old path, which was notoriously narrow with low railings.
The route up the apex of the bridge is steep and exposed to the sun, so be ready to sweat. It’s breezy coasting down the other side, and the spectacular views from the top make the trip worthwhile. Cyclists may be tempted to ride close to the edge for the views, but they should stay on the right-hand side of the path, lest they meet an oncoming cyclist yelling, “Stay on the right, Jack!”
The downside of the path is the entrance at 7th Street and Kennedy Boulevard. Cyclists need to either ride down Kennedy Boulevard, which has a sidewalk, and cross an entrance ramp to the highway, or ride against traffic on one-way 7th Street. Neither road has a protected bike lane.
The crowning touch
The pedestrian and cycling path is the finishing touch on the $1.3 billion “Raise the Roadway” project, which began in May of 2013, and raises the bridge by 64 feet to a height of 214 feet over the Kill Van Kull.
Raising the Bayonne Bridge along with the Harbor Deepening Project, completed in September of 2016, deepened the Kill Van Kull by 50 feet to allow larger container ships to access the terminals at Port Newark, GCT Bayonne, and the Howland Hook Marine Terminal.
The gigantic container ships, the size of skyscrapers, are as remarkable to view from above as they are from First Street Park.
Fifth borough blues
Staten Island isn’t a new world to motorists, but the fifth borough is a far different experience on pedals than in a speeding, air-conditioned car. Cycling infrastructure lags behind the other boroughs, but in the last six years since the old pathway closed, some decent cycling routes were added.
The Bayonne Bridge spits out on Trantor Place, a short ride south, with views of Bayonne, Brooklyn, and Manhattan. Hugging the north shore is Richmond Terrace with a bike lane starting at Snug Harbor that goes all the way to the Staten Island ferry at St. George. Ambitious cyclists can take the ferry to Manhattan and cycle up the West Side Highway all the way to the George Washington Bridge and back down into Hudson County.
A pedestrian and cycling path like the one on the Bayonne Bridge is planned for the Goethal’s Bridge “in the coming weeks,” according to the Port Authority, and is in preliminary planning stages on the Verrazano. The pathway’s will be delayed until the Port Authority and New York Department of Transportation can create safe access for cyclists. The path entrance currently follows a three-lane, one-way street that leads to a shipping terminal.
“It is a great place for exercise and to view the city and Staten Island and the ports of Newark and Elizabeth.” — Kevin Orlik
About those views
“The ships are amazing,” said Mario Burger, 70, who has a house in Edgewater but lives in Switzerland most of the year. He was parked on the top of the bridge on a 1980s Schwinn waiting for the container ship to pass under to snap a photo. “I just came because of the bridge,” he said. “I kayaked under all the bridges [in the New York region]. Now I’m catching this one here.”
“It’s a nice walkway, wide, and does not rumble or vibrate when trucks or cars pass,” said Kevin Orlik, a Bayonne resident who walked the path on May 24, the day it opened, with his daughter. “It was very windy, but manageable. All in all, it is a great place for exercise and to view the city and Staten Island and the ports of Newark and Elizabeth. I wonder if we were the first two up there.”
That weekend, Bayonne resident, An Gi, posted a photo of herself on the bridge with the caption, “Happy Memorial Day from the awesome Bayonne Bridge walkway. Finding the beauty and embracing every moment.”
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