By Abigail Goldring, Media Relations Staff
With May’s sunny skies finally making it to New York City, Port Authority employees are hitting the bike lanes on both sides of the Hudson River. After all, it’s National Bike to Work Month – the perfect time to kick off the agency’s new Bike-Share Benefit.
At the May 16 benefit launch, representatives from Citi Bike and Jersey Bike helped PA employees register for discounted memberships, and New York City Department of Transportation officials outfitted 96 lucky attendees with new, properly sized helmets.
The event was organized by the PA’s very own Bicycle Working Group (BWG), a 50-member, inter-departmental group that meets every month to carry out and improve upon both the agency’s Bicycle Policy and Bicycle Master Plan.
The bicycle policy has been around since its formal adoption in 2010 by the Port Authority Board of Commissioners, and supports biking as an important and sustainable mode of travel that provides safe and convenient bicycle access at agency facilities. The plan was updated in 2017 to reflect an upward trend across the region and the continued renovation of the World Trade Center site.
“The Bicycle Working Group has enormous potential to be a bridge between all the departments to ensure that we are using best bicycle planning practices as we further implement the 2010 Bicycle Policy,” said the group’s co-chair, Kirsten Jones, an executive advisor to the Port Authority’s Tunnels, Bridges & Terminal group. “The 2017 Bicycle Plan outlines numerous ambitious short- and long-term goals that will improve bicycling in the region for both the public and our employees.”
Those goals include designing and building better bicycle infrastructure at the bridges, ensuring safer cycling alongside motor vehicles and pedestrians, and compiling reliable cycling data to better understand commuters’ behaviors.
To date, the group’s biggest accomplishment is the launch of the bike-share benefit. It’s a significant one, given the rise in bicycle commuting for PA employees over the last several years. In 2017, a commuter survey done by the agency’s Office of Environmental and Energy Programs found that walking and biking represented 8 percent of all PA commuter transport — a whopping 88 percent increase from 2015.
At the benefit launch event, more than 100 employees expressed interest in the bike-share discounts.
“I get a lot of enjoyment and meaning from substantively collaborating with the BWG to influence positive change in the culture of alternative transportation across the bistate region,” said Alex Levi, principal architect in the Engineering Department and a BWG member.
After being fitted for a helmet, Rosina Codrington, executive business manager in the Port Authority’s Planning and Regional Development Department, said, “Now, I’m going to commit to biking a few times a week home from work.”
Jones says that the benefits of biking are countless. “When more people ride bicycles, there is less congestion, cleaner air, safer streets, fewer sick days, longer life expectancy, a better economy, and less wear and tear on the roads. Biking creates a more livable place for everyone.”