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Old 01-10-14, 03:23 PM   #1
ironwood
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George Washington Bridge

I don't want to get involved in the politics of, or the personalities involved in, the mess going on in NJ about the intentional traffic jam last September, but I would like to remark that this just demonstrates how vulnerable and inefficient our reliance on the automobile in an urban envirnment is. Two toll booths were closed, and there was instant gridlock. A whole region was paralyzed for days.

I guess the only people who weren't inconvenienced were the bicycle commuters going into the city on the bike path. I'm assuming there are some who use it.
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Old 01-10-14, 04:20 PM   #2
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I said the same thing to a coworker yesterday. I thought it was crazy that such a minor reduction in capacity can have such effects on the whole system like that. I guess it's amplified that it was a bridge and a natural chokepoint, but still way more leverage over a couple lanes than I would have guessed.
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Old 01-10-14, 04:24 PM   #3
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Can that bridge be crossed by cyclists and pedestrians?
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Old 01-10-14, 04:28 PM   #4
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I said the same thing to a coworker yesterday. I thought it was crazy that such a minor reduction in capacity can have such effects on the whole system like that. I guess it's amplified that it was a bridge and a natural chokepoint, but still way more leverage over a couple lanes than I would have guessed.
That pretty much sums it up. I wouldn't call it an example of "how vulnerable and inefficient our reliance on the automobile in an urban envirnment is". Traffic always bunches up at river crossings since you have to push all of the traffic through small bottlenecks. If you reduce the bottleneck further you get bigger problems.
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Old 01-10-14, 04:55 PM   #5
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I guess this is why Automobile Era cities were built away from the water...too many choke points. And New York certainly is vulnerable, but also very resilient, as we saw after 9/11. Actually, symbolism aside, the GW Bridge probably would have been a more impactful target for the terrorists than the WTC.
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Old 01-10-14, 06:43 PM   #6
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I guess this is why Automobile Era cities were built away from the water...too many choke points. And New York certainly is vulnerable, but also very resilient, as we saw after 9/11. Actually, symbolism aside, the GW Bridge probably would have been a more impactful target for the terrorists than the WTC.
What Automobile Era cities?
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Old 01-10-14, 10:01 PM   #7
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What Automobile Era cities?
The one I was thinking about was Los Angeles. It developed a little bit inland and pretty distant from its port. But most of the fastest growing "new" cities today, other than Houston, are far from water-- Las Vegas, Phoenix, Austin, DFW, and several others. Even Silicon Valley, really. Bridges and cars are not really a good mix, and it's no longer such an advantage to have close access to a port or waterway.
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Old 01-10-14, 11:19 PM   #8
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I don't want to get involved in the politics of, or the personalities involved in, the mess going on in NJ about the intentional traffic jam last September, but I would like to remark that this just demonstrates how vulnerable and inefficient our reliance on the automobile in an urban envirnment is. Two toll booths were closed, and there was instant gridlock. A whole region was paralyzed for days.

I guess the only people who weren't inconvenienced were the bicycle commuters going into the city on the bike path. I'm assuming there are some who use it.
I've ridden over the George Washington Bridge bike path many times and it's has the most beautiful sights in all of New York City. What amazes me is that it's fairly flat most of the way. However, I think they close the bridge at midnight for safty reasons.

It cost $13.00 dollars to get into Manhattan, free if you're going to New Jersey.

I don't know why people are getting so upset about this bridge because it's always jammed during rush hour especially if there's an accident. During summer months, it's bumper to bumper traffic all the way to the city. Motorist should expect raffic jams and it's no faster than the Lincoln tunnel.
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Old 01-10-14, 11:33 PM   #9
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I thought it was crazy that such a minor reduction in capacity can have such effects on the whole system like that.
I'm nitpicking what you said, but going from three lanes to one (a 67% decrease) is not a "minor reduction in capacity".

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Old 01-10-14, 11:39 PM   #10
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I've ridden over the George Washington Bridge bike path many times and it's has the most beautiful sights in all of New York City. What amazes me is that it's fairly flat most of the way. However, I think they close the bridge at midnight for safty reasons.

It cost $13.00 dollars to get into Manhattan, free if you're going to New Jersey.

I don't know why people are getting so upset about this bridge because it's always jammed during rush hour especially if there's an accident. During summer months, it's bumper to bumper traffic all the way to the city. Motorist should expect raffic jams and it's no faster than the Lincoln tunnel.
How much does it cost to cycle into Manhattan? What about the bus? Below is a link for a map showing tolls in and out of New York. People who live on Staten Island are really screwed!

http://www.drivethedistrict.com/cont...08_outofny.gif
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Old 01-10-14, 11:43 PM   #11
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?...I wouldn't call it an example of "how vulnerable and inefficient our reliance on the automobile in an urban envirnment is"....
I wonder how long it would take to evacuate New York or various parts of it. Maybe more cars would speed up evacuation times, but somehow I doubt it.
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Old 01-11-14, 08:40 AM   #12
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That pretty much sums it up. I wouldn't call it an example of "how vulnerable and inefficient our reliance on the automobile in an urban envirnment is". Traffic always bunches up at river crossings since you have to push all of the traffic through small bottlenecks. If you reduce the bottleneck further you get bigger problems.
Yeah, you're right - the existence of bottlenecks and the fact that slight disruptions can cause big problems doesn't show that the system is inefficient and vulnerable.
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Old 01-11-14, 07:37 PM   #13
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Can that bridge be crossed by cyclists and pedestrians?
Yes...I've crossed it many times by bike.
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Old 01-11-14, 08:12 PM   #14
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Yeah, you're right - the existence of bottlenecks and the fact that slight disruptions can cause big problems doesn't show that the system is inefficient and vulnerable.
If a slight disruption can cause big problems, then the system is indeed vulnerable, practically by definition. If such disruptions are regular occurrences, then the system is inefficient. I think the auto-centric approach has been shown to be both of those in many locales, including the greater NYC area.
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Old 01-11-14, 09:53 PM   #15
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How much does it cost to cycle into Manhattan? What about the bus? Below is a link for a map showing tolls in and out of New York. People who live on Staten Island are really screwed!

http://www.drivethedistrict.com/cont...08_outofny.gif
It's free to cycle into Manhattan using the George Washington Bridge. I don't know if NJ Transit pays to cross the GW Bridge since they use EZ Pass. Maybe the state refunds the agency but it's a good question.

The motorist in Staten Island are screwed I agree but those who live on the island get a discount on the bridges. The one benefit is the train is free on most stations except those entering and leaving the ferry station. Also, the Staten Island ferry is free.
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Old 01-11-14, 10:48 PM   #16
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Can that bridge be crossed by cyclists and pedestrians?
Yes, but at the end of 2014, the bridge will be undergoing a multi-year renovation project that will involve the replacement of every single suspension cable. That means the bike/ped path will be closed for varying periods during the project, which I believe is set to last 4 years.
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Old 01-11-14, 11:15 PM   #17
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I wonder how long it would take to evacuate New York or various parts of it. Maybe more cars would speed up evacuation times, but somehow I doubt it.
First off, NYC has already been through vastly more than most any major city and has never had full-scale evacuations. Sure, the need is possible in lower-lying areas but even during recent hurricanes, there wasn't a widescale need. The reason those things don't make news with NYC like they did with New Orleans and other cities is NYC has far more resources at its disposal.

Weather disasters would likely be the only need. I was a NYC resident on 9/11 and even the subways stayed running for about an hour after, as the first time I heard about the attack was on the subway. I heard an enormously loud jet buzz my apartment, which was near relatively close to the WTC, but it's not one of those things you believe until you get to the news.

Quite simply, if NYC had to be evacuated quickly, it would be done by water. Between the ferries owned by the city that serve Staten Island and all the vessels owned by private ferry companies, it would make much more sense than trying to do anything by surface transportation. If any surface transportation was needed, there are at least 5,000 buses available between the various NYS MTA fleets serving the 5 boroughs.

Another thing that distinguishes NY in its ability to do these things is the preparedness of its residents. If you live in NYC long enough, you'll see a lot and it gives you an instinct that folks in other places don't have. That's why you didn't see looting and crime following 9/11, the 2003 blackout and similar situations. People pull together and look out for one another, even if they'd previously never met one another.
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Old 01-12-14, 06:35 AM   #18
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That's why you didn't see looting and crime following 9/11, the 2003 blackout and similar situations. People pull together and look out for one another, even if they'd previously never met one another.
Good point.

I was in New York City during the 93 bombing, 911 and blackout and was surprised the city was not looted! I remember reading about the blackout in the 70's and all the destruction that came of that. I wasn't in the city back then but it surprised me how different racial relations changed in 20 years.
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Old 01-12-14, 08:05 AM   #19
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Good point.

I was in New York City during the 93 bombing, 911 and blackout and was surprised the city was not looted! I remember reading about the blackout in the 70's and all the destruction that came of that. I wasn't in the city back then but it surprised me how different racial relations changed in 20 years.
It is cool the way people pull together and assist their neighbors and communities. We experienced the same 2003 blackout here without looting also. In the last couple weeks we had an ice storm that left half the city without power for up to nine days, followed last week by a major blizzard and super cold temps. Again, no looting and everywhere people doing amazing feats to assist their neighbors and their communities.
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Old 01-12-14, 02:38 PM   #20
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I said the same thing to a coworker yesterday. I thought it was crazy that such a minor reduction in capacity can have such effects on the whole system like that. I guess it's amplified that it was a bridge and a natural chokepoint, but still way more leverage over a couple lanes than I would have guessed.
In all fairness it was a reduction of 2/3rds to lanes that were already above capacity at rush hour.
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Old 01-12-14, 02:47 PM   #21
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Yes, but at the end of 2014, the bridge will be undergoing a multi-year renovation project that will involve the replacement of every single suspension cable. That means the bike/ped path will be closed for varying periods during the project, which I believe is set to last 4 years.
This is an issue where some advocacy is needed. I don't know the cyclist traffic counts, especially a rush hour, but some alternatives should be considered. Possibly shuttle buses for cyclists and pedestrians, or closure and Jersey barriering of the right lane of the upper deck with access cut through to the pedestrian/bicycle ramps at each end. The lose of a single lane on the span isn't a crisis since the bridge already has more capacity the roads at either end.

Fot those not in the NYC area, probably the only reason that the bridge's bicycle commuter counts aren't much higher is the location. The GWB connects to Manhattan's Washington Heights, some 8 miles north of midtown. If there were similar access through the Lincoln Tunnel the counts would be through the roof.
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Old 01-12-14, 03:02 PM   #22
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In all fairness it was a reduction of 2/3rds to lanes that were already above capacity at rush hour.
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I'm nitpicking what you said, but going from three lanes to one (a 67% decrease) is not a "minor reduction in capacity".

- Mark
I understand that it was two lanes. 2 Lanes, though... for massive gridlock. A drunk driver can do that in his sleep! =P
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Old 01-12-14, 04:00 PM   #23
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I understand that it was two lanes. 2 Lanes, though... for massive gridlock. A drunk driver can do that in his sleep! =P
You're right, and it produces the same result.

I don't know where you live, but when roads are running at 100% of capacity (and then some), it takes very little to create massive gridlock. It happens at bridges, on interstates and on regular streets and avenues.
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Old 01-12-14, 04:44 PM   #24
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I guess this is why Automobile Era cities were built away from the water...too many choke points. And New York certainly is vulnerable, but also very resilient, as we saw after 9/11. Actually, symbolism aside, the GW Bridge probably would have been a more impactful target for the terrorists than the WTC.
No, not really.
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Old 01-12-14, 06:03 PM   #25
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No, not really.
Can you develop this thought a bit?
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