A new 2.5 mile bike path has been completed along Vestal Parkway, connecting Binghamton University and Downtown Binghamton.

This bike path has been years in the making, and initial plans for the project were first discussed over a decade ago, according to Vestal Town Supervisor John Schaffer. The state-funded project began in 2019 and was completed in the summer of 2023, costing around $24 million in state money. The path is part of the Binghamton Greenway project, an effort by New York state to create a transportation network that lets people travel throughout their communities, by walking, biking or another form of transportation.

The path runs along Route 434, from Pennsylvania Avenue in Binghamton to Murray Hill Road in Vestal, giving commuters a safe way to get between Downtown Binghamton, the campus and surrounding areas without producing greenhouse gases.

Schaffer reflected on the safety benefits of the path for local residents.

“As the Town of Vestal supervisor, the safety and well-being of our town residents as well as University students is always a top priority,” Schaffer said. “This [path] will allow both residents and students to access a safe way to get to and from the University.”

BU has been committed to maintaining sustainability goals, as outlined in the University’s Campus Sustainability Plan. A part of that plan concerns transportation as the University committed to reducing single occupancy vehicles by 2022. In 2022, BU ranked in the top 50 on Princeton Review’s Top Green Schools list.

According to Brian Rose, Binghamton University’s vice president for student affairs, the new path is part of a larger strategy to reduce reliance on single occupancy motor vehicles.

“The [Binghamton Greenway Project] will get used as a place to walk, run and ride and also as a safer means of using bikes to move between downtown and the main campus,” Rose wrote in an email. “In the next couple of weeks, we’ll be restoring the BU bike-share program with a new vendor and that will make riding the trail an option for members of our community who do not have a bike on campus.”

BU’s bike-share program offered students and faculty a chance to borrow [and] use bicycles for free. The program was temporarily halted after the vendor suspended all their services.

Adam Hess, a senior majoring in environmental science, described the benefits the path would bring the community.

“It’s a route downtown that can be used by pedestrians and bikers to avoid more unsafe roads,” Hess said. “I’m glad there’s now a bike path between Downtown Binghamton and [BU].”

Michelle Lam, a junior majoring in computer science, expressed anticipation for the newly constructed bike path.

“As someone who lives off campus, it’s great to hear about new and different methods of getting to campus for commuters like me,” Lam said. “The bike path seems promising, as it sounds like it will introduce less traffic congestion to [BU] and promote a greener campus all around.”

The path links with the Two Rivers Greenway system, a community and recreational system that goes through Broome and Tioga counties. State Route 434 has also been fashioned with new signs, guide rails and crosswalks to enhance pedestrian and cyclist safety, all compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Lam added that the new space would be a valuable resource for students looking for recreational activities or a break from schoolwork.

“Because of its location, so central to campus and also downtown, I think that students would really be able to benefit from its presence,” Lam said. “I can definitely see people jogging along the path or biking to and from the campus as a means of getting where they need to in a non stressful and decompressing way.”