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N.Y. Today: Bike Bridge to N.J.?

Email sent: Nov 22, 2019 5:00 am

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What you need to know for Friday and the weekend.

Biking Over the Hudson: Why It’s Not Easier

It’s Friday.

Weather: Cool and cloudy, with showers possible. The high could reach the mid-50s. Saturday may be chillier, and expect some rain overnight into Sunday.

Alternate-side parking: In effect until Thursday (Thanksgiving).

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Stefano Ukmar for The New York Times

When biking along Manhattan’s West Side, with the New Jersey skyline in sight, Mitchel Loring often wonders: Why is there no direct route to pedal across the Hudson River to Jersey City?

Recently, we asked readers what they had always wanted to know about New York City. Mr. Loring, an urban planner in Manhattan who has friends in New Jersey, questioned why the George Washington Bridge was Manhattan’s only West Side river crossing built with bicyclists and pedestrians in mind.

I spoke to several people in hopes of answering Mr. Loring’s question, and they all named one person to talk to: Samuel I. Schwartz, a transportation engineer who once worked as the city’s traffic commissioner.

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Mr. Schwartz said there was talk of building bridges between Manhattan and New Jersey as early as the 1880s. The George Washington Bridge was proposed near West 57th Street in the 1920s, according to Mr. Schwartz.

But officials opted instead for a span connecting Upper Manhattan and Fort Lee, N.J. It opened in 1931.

Around the same time, the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels opened to the south. And while a small sliver of the George Washington is reserved for pedestrians and cyclists, the tunnels simply don’t have paths to accommodate them.

In 2012, Mr. Schwartz said, he and his associates in the advocacy group MoveNY proposed three bridges for pedestrians and cyclists, one of which would connect Midtown Manhattan to either Hoboken or Jersey City.

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Mr. Schwartz had hoped that congestion pricing — charging motorists to drive in certain parts of New York City — could help pay for the crossings. But the concept was a hard sell because while other transit advocates liked the idea of charging motorists, they did not agree on the need for more bridges.

So, in the end, “they weren’t supporting congestion pricing,” Mr. Schwartz recalled. “We needed to have some unity on the advocacy side.”

He added: “I agreed to drop it, reluctantly.”

Years later, New York is on the cusp of implementing congestion pricing, and miles of new bike lanes have been built in the city. But still there are no West Side bridges for pedestrians and bicyclists in the heart of Manhattan.

FROM THE TIMES

Explore news from New York and around the region

Want more news? Check out our full coverage.

The Mini Crossword: Here is today’s puzzle.

What we’re reading

A jail in Brooklyn and another on Rikers Island may close by January. [Daily News]

Crashes with city-owned vehicles cost New York more than $550 million since 2013. [Streetsblog]

New York’s latest food craze: expensive strawberries grown in New Jersey. [Eater]

Coming up this weekend

Friday

Join the jeweler Ada Chen and the writer Eda Yu for an artist talk at Wing on Wo & Co. in Manhattan. 7 p.m. [R.S.V.P., donation]

The Harlem Chamber Players’ annual Bach concert is at the Broadway Presbyterian Church in Manhattan. 7 p.m. [$20]

Saturday

At DIY: Make a Worm Bin at the Queens Botanical Garden, learn how to build an indoor worm habitat for composting. 1 p.m. [$10]

Go stargazing with the Amateur Astronomers Association at Gateway Great Kills National Park in Staten Island. 7:30 p.m. [Free]

Sunday

Discuss Amy Tan’s novel “The Joy Luck Club” with the Gilmore Girls Book Group at the Word book shop in Brooklyn. 5 p.m. [Free]

The Museum of Interesting Things’ Secret Speakeasy theme is Eureka! The History of Invention! Enjoy vintage short films, vinyl records and more at 177 Prince Street in Manhattan. 6 p.m. [$10]

— Melissa Guerrero and Alex Traub

Events are subject to change, so double-check before heading out. For more events, see the going-out guides from The Times’s culture pages.

And finally: Off Broadway and Off Off Broadway numbers

I’ve never sat through the dazzling Broadway marathon known as “Hamilton.” I’ve also never seen “Dear Evan Hansen.” Or “Cats.”

But I am a regular theatergoer.

I’ve seen “Othello: The Remix” and “Youarenowhere” And I’ve stuffed my face at a show staged by the Shakespearean dinner-theater troupe called, aptly, Shake and Bake.

The theater scene in New York City includes more than just Broadway. Thanks to a new study, we can see how much more.

According to the report, commissioned by the mayor’s office and released this week, the city is home to 748 Off Broadway and Off Off Broadway theater organizations, responsible for 3,000 jobs. My colleague Michael Paulson, the theater reporter for The Times, wrote about the study.

According to Mr. Paulson, the study calculates that non-Broadway theaters are responsible for $584 million in direct annual economic output. It estimates $1.3 billion in “direct, indirect and induced benefits.”

Here are some other findings:

— Most of the nonprofit theater venues are in Manhattan, south of Central Park.

— Almost all of the theaters outside Broadway are nonprofits — just 24 of the 748 are commercial. (On Broadway, 35 of the 41 theaters are operated as commercial ventures.)

— The industry depends on more than 9,000 nonsalaried volunteers. This is especially the case at small organizations: 92 percent of the labor at organizations with budgets under $100,000 is performed by volunteers.

It’s Friday — go see a show.

Metropolitan Diary: At Fort Tilden

Dear Diary:

It was a pleasant Saturday morning in October at Fort Tilden, and we were going to need a northwest wind and more sun if we were to have any chance of seeing hawks. But it wasn’t happening. Bad luck for our group of about 30 birders.

No matter. By New York standards, the park was empty. The summer crowds had left the beach to the surf casters, and it was still too early for spur-of-the-moment hikers.

Our guide turned our attention from the vacant sky to the coastal scrub: Autumn olive. Bittersweet shrub. Bayberry.

He pointed to a dense cluster of bright yellow flowers, the seaside goldenrod. Its nectar sustains monarch butterflies as they flutter thousands of miles south to Mexico.

He said that scientists had once tracked an osprey that had left the Northeast to spend the winter in Venezuela, and had then flown back to the exact same nest by March.

As we silently shared this humbling fact, someone in the back of the group spoke up.

“Just in time for St. Patrick’s Day,” the voice said.

— Mark Rivett-Carnac

New York Today is published weekdays around 6 a.m. You can also find it at nytoday.com.

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