Famous for Chris Christie's cockblocking antics, it is also the world's busiest motor vehicle bridge, carrying well over 100 million car- and truckloads of schmucks annually between New York and New Jersey.
Additionally, the George Washington Bridge carries all of New York City's Freds and tridorks out of the city every weekend, and if the United States of America were a giant Mad Fold-in you could easily connect the Golden Gate and George Washington Bridges without anybody noticing the difference:
Alas, there are two (2) major problems with the bike path on the George Washington Bridge. The first problem is that it's a two-way bridge, which means that unfortunately all those Freds and tridorks eventually manage to find their way back to New York City instead of staying in Jersey where they belong. The second problem is that the path is very narrow, yet even though the Port Authority is embarking upon a restructuring process they're only going to renovate it in a half-assed way. So a movement is afoot to address this:
Complete the George Washington Bridge
Between 2017 and 2024, the Port Authority will rip out and restore the 1931-era paths on the George Washington Bridge as part of a $1.9 billion recabling and restoration project.
The GWB is the sole bike-able connector between North Jersey and New York City. Its 7’ paths are dangerously overcrowded at 3700 cyclists per day and that use is growing 10% per year. If that sustains, we’ll see 9,000 cyclists per day by the time the paths re-open in 2024.
The PA should seize this once-in-a-lifespan opportunity to widen the paths to comply with national standards for a high use bicycle-pedestrian facility, but their plan is to restore them as sidewalks. Which means sooner rather than later, cyclists will have to walk.
This will thwart efforts to establish a regional bike read for decades, along with durable enhancements to competitiveness, sustainability, resilience, tourism and public health.
Given that the George Washington Bridge is arguably the crown jewel of New York City-area recreational cycling, it would make sense for the Port Authority to grace it with a world-class bike path, which is why you can be absolutely sure that they won't.
In other words, should my children become road cyclists one day (which is not allowed under my roof, but once they grow up and move out what can I do?), it's comforting to know they'll be dodging wobbly tridorks on a ridiculously narrow path just like their old man once did.
(Though all of this is probably moot since Mexico won't pay for the wall so our shitbag president will probably start tearing down the bridge and using it for building materials any day now.)
Speaking of the George Washington Bridge, there was a time I rode over it multiple times a week, but now that I'm a recovering Fred I only venture over it once in awhile. As such, I now notice changes in Fredly style and equipment much more acutely, thanks to the "boiling frog" effect. Indeed, yesterday I found myself on the dreaded Route 9W corridor, and I noticed two (2) things:
1) Crabon downtubes have reached absolutely stupendous proportions which means you can see which brand of stupid plastic bike Fred overpaid for from a distance of at least a mile;
2) Thanks to the preponderance of Giro Air Attack helmets the transformation of Freds into giant rolling spermatozoa is officially complete:
Of course I realize I'm somewhat prejudiced by age and retrogrouchery, but I maintain that Freds look more ridiculous today than at any other point in human history, including this one:
This is partly why my George Washington Bridge rides are now few and far between, and why I prefer to scurry about on some of the less-traveled trails of the lower Hudson Valley where I can look ridiculous in private:
I was very wise to move to my current abode, for if I point my bike north I can ride for hours without subjecting myself to the indignity of pavement, yet if if I point my bike south I can still revel in all the indignities of urban cycling, such as people using bike lanes as loading zones:
People using bike lanes to wash cement trucks:
People using bike lanes to repair automobiles:
People using bike lanes to deliver corn chips covered in disgusting flavored Trump-colored chemical powder:
And of course people using bike lanes to just hang out in cars with tinted windows and Pennsylvania plates:
Pretty sure the way it works is when your New York State driver's license is revoked the state of Pennsylvania just sends you a license plate and vehicle registration automatically.
They should call it the "second chance" state.
After that you just work your way down the eastern seaboard, which is why the absolute worst New York City drivers have these warning signs on their cars:
If you see a car in New York City with one of these on it just save yourself the trouble and ride right into the nearest lamppost.
Anyway, I make sure to take plenty of urban forays, if only to hone my survival instincts. For example, not too long ago I tested my bike-locking skills by leaving my Surly in Midtown for a few hours:
I wouldn't normally do this (the Ironic Orange Julius Bike is my "lock-up bike"), and I'd also have been better off using my heavy chain, but I didn't feel like carrying my heavy chain that day and sometimes you've got to live dangerously.
The main lock is a u-lock securing the bike Sheldon-style, then there's a second cable lock on the frame and the front wheel as well as a third (!) cable lock for the saddle:
Naturally when I tweeted this picture someone questioned the Sheldon technique and posted this:
Though I maintain if a thief wants the bike they're getting it and the amount of time they'd need to do so in either scenario is pretty much a wash. If anything my real concern was that someone might steal my cockpit again:
(And yes, if someone wanted the front end of a Surly bad enough they could certainly have opened the S&S couplers, which would have been worth it for the post-theft photos alone.)
Fortunately nobody did, and I found the bicycle unmolested upon my return. I also had a new neighbor:
That's one u-lock Sheldoning the rear wheel and another u-lock securing the front wheel to the pedal, which was a new one for me, and while I suppose it could be defeated with a few tools I suppose it's more than enough to discourage the opportunist.
Speaking of the indignity of urban cycling, the other day I was riding home under the elevated subway (yes, the New York City Subway is still the subway when it's above ground, just like an airplane is still an airplane after it lands, duh) when this car service driver blew by me:
Riding under subway tracks is a sub-discipline of New York City cycling that comes with its own unique set of challenges and frustrations. Specifically, positioning yourself optimally in relation to the columns can be difficult, and while you may be tempted to stay to the right of them and ride next to the parked cars you're liable to get trapped in the "door zone" or blocked by a double-parker.
Anyway, this driver had no such compunctions, and was using the little strip of roadway between the parked cars and the columns to bypass sluggish traffic. He was doing so at very high speed, and in fact clipped at least two or three rear-view mirrors in the process, which was kind of funny given his Vision Zero bumper sticker:
And yes, in case you're wondering, he's clearly racking up those fines:
This system only reflects camera and parking violations, by the way. Moving violations is a whole other thing not reflected here. But yes, clearly this is someone overqualified to be driving people around for a living.
Yet incredibly we still treat driver incompetence like harmless whimsy:
Dear Diary:A driver collides with a bus and is taken aback by the reaction the accident elicits. https://t.co/mHv4iqQ66Z— NYT Metro Desk (@NYTMetro) February 3, 2017
There I was, a middle-aged woman who had just sideswiped a New York City bus. The bus veered to the curb, and the passengers were discharged, shaking their heads.
Usually selfish drivers inconvenience entire busloads of people by double-parking or blocking bus stops, but sure, sometimes they go the extra mile by ending the bus ride altogether.
I waited for the driver to glare at me, but his face was impassive.
As I wended my way to his side, I burst into tears.
“I’m so sorry,” I said. “It was all my fault, and I don’t know how it happened. Of course I’ll pay for all the damages.”
This is right out of the driver handbook which states quite clearly that in the event of a collision you should profess your total incompetence and attempt to throw money at the problem.
“There doesn’t seem to be any damage, ma’am,” he said, his gentle manner eliciting a fresh round of sobs. “Let’s be very thankful no one was hurt, and even the bus was undamaged, so please don’t cry. This happens all the time. I’m going to call my supervisor — that’s the protocol — and he’ll come inspect the bus and write a report. Why don’t you sit in your car while we wait?”
Yeah, he wasn't trying to make you feel better, he's probably happy because now he gets to claim disability for the rest of the year.
Here's a crazy thought: if you can't drive around without hitting a goddamn city bus then you shouldn't be allowed to drive at all.
Same thing goes for people who can't park or comprehend basic signage:
It takes a village to help someone park a car.https://t.co/HcmX2DKpJb— Bike Snob NYC (@bikesnobnyc) February 2, 2017
I notice that although the sign says one-hour parking, it’s from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. That won’t work for my 6 p.m. dinner date.
I have to get out of the spot, but the FedEx truck is still there. I try to back out, hit the curb, almost hit the truck and cannot get out. Another guy starts to direct me: Turn the wheel, up on the curb, straighten out. He gets me out of the space.
YOU CLEARLY CAN'T DRIVE. Surrender your keys and license immediately. And why the hell are you driving to a dinner date on the Upper West Side anyway? If nothing else, you're liable to run into Ben Bowman and his Tire Iron of Justice.
I give up on Broadway and head to 104th Street. I find a spot right away, and then I see some other spots. This looks suspicious — is it a no-standing zone?
I get out of my car, looking for a sign. Yet another guy asks if I need something. When I explain that I don’t know whether I can park there, he says he’ll find out.
He runs down the street, looks at the sign and runs back.
“It’s fine, lady,” he says.
Thank you, New York!
You know how to tell if it's a no-standing zone? Look for a fucking sign that says "no standing." As someone who drives a car sometimes I have absolutely no patience for other drivers who can't interpret signage. I've often been stopped while walking by drivers who can't figure out the street signs and who ask me, "Am I allowed to park here?" You might as well ask me to help you tie your shoes or wipe your ass for you. Figure it out your damn self. Not only do you create traffic, take up space, and occasionally hit buses, but you can't even be bothered to read a goddamn sign before you take up all that public space?
Cyclists get a lot of crap for being smug but there is absolutely no lazier or more self-entitled creature than a New York City driver.
Speaking of which, remember John Cassidy's classic New Yorker anti-bike lane story? Well he's doing an AMA today:
Someone should ask him if he's still got that Jaguar.