By prioritizing funding for alternative means of transportation, New York State has made it easier for millions of New Yorkers to ride, walk, or run in their everyday lives. Governor Cuomo recently announced $67 million in funding for 63 new bicycle, pedestrian, and multi-use transportations paths. The funding will be used to add more sidewalks, pedestrian and bicycle facilities, and increase maintenance of existing walking and biking paths. Research shows that amenities, such as walking and biking paths, are key to increasing physical activity rates, especially in areas with high health risks. New York State estimates that 62% of its deaths were from chronic diseases and 32% of its children were considered obese or overweight in 2011. Given these staggering statistics, the opportunity for increased active transportation options is a win for health advocates and residents across the state.
Funding has been allocated to projects around New York State that will increase safety and recreational options for residents and visitors alike. In New York City, $14.8 million has been given to six projects that will increase bike- and walkways in the City and support Mayor DeBlasio’s “Vision Zero” goal of incurring zero fatalities from traffic related incidences. Based on a history of successful vision zero projects implemented in European countries, the City’s Department of Transportation will work to eliminate traffic deaths and serious injuries on its streets by 2024. One such NYC project is the construction of the Hell Gate Pathway, a passageway for bicyclists and pedestrians that connects the South Bronx to 330 acres of recreational space located on Randall’s Island. NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito commented that this project will “greatly improve access to the waterfront and the state-of-the-art fields and facilities at Randall’s Island, all of which will serve as a major recreational asset to this community which has some of the highest obesity, diabetes and asthma rates in the City.
In the suburban region of Catskill, New York, $2.24 million will be used to rehab an existing bridge for better pedestrian access. The pedestrian portion of the bridge, which was closed in 2010 due to safety concerns, will connect to a larger walking path in the City. Adding pedestrian access to the bridge will allow students and residents to safely walk to and from the City’s schools and waterfront area.
The New York State funding follows on the heels of California and Pennsylvania, which both recently passed bills funding walking and biking infrastructure. By prioritizing financing for Active Transportation projects, these regions will be sure to see many long-term benefits. Investing in Active Transportation increases access to physical activity options, improves the efficiency of the roadway, and helps to manage congestion, meet sustainability goals, and serves the mobility needs of those who cannot drive.