By Joe Iorio, Media Relations Staff
As urban areas continue to flourish, more stress is being placed on the region’s transportation infrastructure to accommodate higher levels of passenger growth. While most people still commute by train or bus, from May to September a handful of motivated Port Authority employees have traded in their monthly passes for a two-wheel workout.
Each year, the National Bike Challenge encourages companies from across the United States to form cycling teams, register them online and compete for prizes. Over the five-month challenge, participants track their total number of commuting and recreational miles cycled via Strava, a mobile app for athletic activity. When the Challenge concludes in September, the overall team mileage is totaled and compared with other competing organizations.
The group of about 20 Port Authority employees competing in this year’s challenge works at different facilities across the region. So far, Greg Wong, a business and transportation analysis manager for PATH, is leading the pack with more than 1,000 miles biked this year.
“Our participation in this event is the byproduct of a larger, agency-wide initiative to provide our customers, tenants, employees and visitors with safer and more convenient bicycle access at Port Authority facilities,” said Alex Levi, a principal architect in the agency’s Engineering Department who manages the PA Challenge Team. “From a transportation perspective, the agency has made great strides over the past decade to accommodate bicyclists at many of our facilities.”
Since 2008, when the Port Authority’s first Bicycle Master Plan was published, ridership trends have steadily increased at agency facilities. Between 2011 and 2015, the average number of weekday bicycle commute trips increased by 40.8 percent overall, with a 34-percent increase in mode share (a mixed use measurement, such as taking both PATH and a bike to work).
Accordingly, the Port Authority has followed its long-term vision to institutionalize bicycle planning, practices and policies outlined in the Bicycle Master plan. The proposed strategies and potential implementation measures have helped in monitoring cycling demand at PA facilities and to make improvements where financially and operationally feasible.
The four bridges that connect New York and New Jersey, the Bayonne, Goethals and George Washington Bridges have undergone extensive improvements to enhance bicycling conditions within the past year.
Additionally, bike access and parking the airports and the World Trade Center and the Port Authority Bus Terminal have been increased within the past few years to allow for greater levels of ridership. Ultimately, these significant upgrades reflect a long-term vision the Port Authority is committed to achieving.
“It’s free for any company to participate, so I think that this event is a fun way to challenge yourself and your colleagues while also competing on a local, state and national level,” said Levi. “Not only will the increased use of bikes positively impact our environment, but it also promotes strong personal fitness that is critical to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.”
To learn more about bicycling options at Port Authority facilities, click here.