January 21, 2020
Last year, after a $100 million rehabilitation project, the Peace Bridge in Buffalo, NY, re-opened with a new bicycle and pedestrian path which provided physical separation from cars and semi-trucks to allow safe crossing for standard bicycles. How bicycle-accessible are the remainder of our border crossings?
(Note: access challenges exist for atypical bicycle configurations and bicycle trailers on the Peace Bridge due to a turnstile on the Canadian side of the bridge.)
With the mostly off-road, beautifully maintained ~90 mile Greater Niagara Cycling Route in lower Ontario and the upcoming completion of the Empire State Trail expected in December 2020, cyclists on both sides of the bridge celebrated the Peace Bridge multi-use path.
However, bridge crossings via bicycle in Niagara Falls, NY, continue to present access challenges. The Rainbow Bridge is accessible to pedestrians and technically accessible to bicyclists, though bicyclists are required to ride with motor vehicles despite no infrastructure present. Families with small children, less experienced cyclists, and even experienced cyclists likely feel uncomfortable riding on the bridge mixed with large vehicles. The Whirlpool Bridge, located nearby the new Amtrak station in Niagara Falls, is accessible only to Nexus card holders.
Leadership in Niagara Falls, NY, hopes to change this accessibility conundrum by encouraging pedestrian and cyclist bridge access via both bridges.
Better access via the Rainbow Bridge for cyclists would allow a connection between each city’s respective tourist areas and bike path networks, providing additional tourism opportunities as well as supporting transportation demand management initiatives in the highly-dense areas. The Whirlpool Bridge provides access to international train riders, both GOtrain and Amtrak, and serves as an important link between residential areas on both sides of the border. Both GOtrain and Amtrak train stations are located nearby the Whirlpool Bridge. Ontario’s GOtrain provides daily connections from Niagara Falls, CA, to Toronto, CA, with hundreds of riders each day. Senator Charles Schumer recently encouraged the Canadian government to allow pre-clearance for Amtrak trains to create a more efficient crossing for tourists and visitors.
Niagara Falls, NY, attracts around 8 million visitors per year, and tourism is the fastest growing economy in the city. Creating seamless access for all visitors—via bus, train, foot, bicycle, or car—is vital to strengthening the economy of our entire region. If you support access to our International bridges, please encourage the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission to allow bicycles and pedestrians on the Whirlpool Bridge.
You can contact them via email (General_Inquiries@niagarafallsbridges.com) or via phone (716-285-6322).