By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
A group fighting to convince the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to install a bike-pedestrian path on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge will take time out from the battle to host a party in Bay Ridge to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the bridge’s opening.
The Harbor Ring Committee will co-host a party with the Merchants of Third Avenue on Thursday, Nov. 20, at Yellow Hook Grille at 7003 Third Ave., at 7:30 p.m.
The Harbor Ring Committee’s goal is to create a “Harbor Ring Route,’ a 50-mile recreational route around the New York Harbor that would connect Staten Island, Brooklyn and Manhattan with Hoboken, Jersey City and Bayonne.
Part of that effort is to get a bike-pedestrian path on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. Specifically, the committee is pushing for the MTA to include the bike-pedestrian path in the 2015-2019 MTA Capital Plan.
The MTA hired a firm to look into the idea of installing a path on the bridge, a spokesman recently told News 12 Brooklyn. The study would include taking a look at the cost as well as the environmental factors.
Bay Ridge business and civic leaders attended an Oct. 18 rally organized by the committee on Staten Island.
The bridge, which opened in November of 1964, does not have a walkway, but advocates said there is room for one.
There would also be tremendous health benefits to being able to bike or walk across the bridge, committee member David Wenger told the Brooklyn Eagle in a recent interview.
“Biking is a very healthy way to get around the city. And if pedestrians could walk over the Verrazano Bridge to Staten Island and back, they would be covering a distance of about four miles. It’s great exercise,” he said.
Exercise isn’t the only reason to have a walkway on the bridge, Wenger said. “The views from the bridge are spectacular. It would be a thrill to walk over the bridge,” he said.
Bob Howe, president of the Merchants of Third Avenue, said that the business group, which represents hundreds of store owners of the busy commercial avenue, is all in favor of giving bike riders and pedestrians access to the bridge. “We are supportive of them,” he said, referring to the Harbor Ring Committee.
Charles Otey, executive secretary of the Merchants, attended the committee’s Staten Island rally, where he spoke about the importance of having a bike-pedestrian lane on the bridge. Otey first proposed a bike-pedestrian path, which he called a “Lifeway,” more than 20 years ago. Otey wrote newspaper columns about it and sought support from Bay Ridge elected officials.
“We’re very proud that Chuck’s idea is gaining traction. We feel that in the Harbor Ring Committee, we have found an important ally,” Howe told the Eagle.
A 1997 Department of City Planning study determined that a Verrazano Bridge pathway would be feasible and that it could be installed without removing any vehicular traffic lanes, according to the Harbor Ring Committee.
The committee is promoting the Nov. 20 party on its website as a way for participants to “raise a glass to the history of the campaign for a Verrazano Bridge bicycle-pedestrian path and get excited about the Harbor Ring’s new efforts to make it a reality.”
For more information, visit the Harbor Ring Committee’s website at www.harborring.org.
Original version of article had incorrect spelling of the Harbor Ring Committee's website. We regret the error.