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Vision vs. Reality



Greenways create essential public space for human-powered transportation and healthful outdoor recreation; provide numerous environmental benefits; offer sustainable low-cost transportation alternatives; foster tourism and create jobs; and provide connection to job centers and transit.


New York City has a 400-mile network of greenways on paper. About 300 miles of greenways run through every part of the city. But today, they rarely connect to each other, older segments require upgrades, and new parts of the network are still too few and far between. Connecting disparate, isolated greenways will create a citywide open space and transportation network that will be essential infrastructure for an equitable and sustainable future.


In this moment of increased attention to the vital importance of equitable infrastructure, climate action, and economic recovery, dozens of greenway-aligned groups from across the city came together as the NYC Greenways Coalition to catalyze increased investment and political will toward completion of a 5-Borough greenway system that serves all New Yorkers and connects with regional networks like the 750-mile Empire State Trail, 175-mile Long Island Greenway, and 3,000-mile East Coast Greenway.


Greenway development in NYC will contribute greatly to a wide range of critical public-policy initiatives:


The East Coast Greenway Alliance calculates that 17,000 jobs are directly created for each $1 billion invested in greenways. An ambitious greenway effort in New York City would represent a cornerstone of an ambitious program to put New Yorkers back to work as we recover from the pandemic while building green infrastructure. 


Sustainability and Resilience

To reduce GHG emissions, NYC must create attractive alternatives to car and taxi use and livable urban environments. To build resilience, we must create parallel systems so we can keep moving and functioning in crises, and invest in climate-adaptive infrastructure. During the COVID pandemic, user counts on the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway soared 3-5X over 2019 levels, even in the absence of traditional office commutes or any tourism. Greenways can also be designed to absorb stormwater and reduce localized flooding, increase tree-cover to address the urban heat island effect, and provide habitat for wildlife.


Equitable Neighborhood Open Space

Greenway development can create safe, usable open spaces across communities more quickly and readily than creation of new parks or plazas, and can create easy connections to existing parks even if they are several neighborhoods away. An interconnected greenway network would reach areas with the least access to open space, and better connect residents to existing parks and waterfronts. 


Public Health

New Yorkers have taken to greenways, bike lanes, esplanades, and low-traffic streets like never before during the pandemic, for outdoor exercise, as an antidote to being cooped up, and to get around their neighborhood or borough. But traffic crashes and deaths are dramatically climbing again in the city. We need the full separation of greenways to allow for all ages and abilities to enjoy and make full use of the city’s public realm assets.

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Streetsblog: City Electeds to Albany Leaders: We Want Some of that Greenway Green, Too!



Related: Coalition letter to Governor Kathy Hochul to call for $200 million in funding for downstate greenways Learn More >

QNS: City moving forward with proposed Queens Greenway connecting parks for cyclists, pedestrians



Related: NYC Parks Department greenway proposals for Eastern Queens and Southwest Brooklyn

News12: Advocates call on state to extend Empire State Trail onto Long Island


CityParks Foundation: NYC Green Relief & Recovery Fund Grants $503,000 to 7 Organizations Promoting Equity in NYC’s Parks and Open Spaces


March 4, 2022 letter to NYS Senate: Budget Request for Downstate NY Greenways



December 23, 2021 letter to NY Governor Hochul: Budget Request for Downstate NY Greenways


Bloomberg CityLab: ‘Greenway Stimulus’ Could Bring Boom in Bike and Walking Trails



THE CITY: Dream of Connected NYC Greenway Re-Envisioned as Path to COVID Recovery



March 10, 2021 letter to NYC Congressional Delegation: Coalition calls for Federal investment to connect NYC Greenways


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