Jan 29, 2021
Brooklyn Bridge to get a new, dedicated bike lane
Mayor de Blasio announced Thursday that his administration will also install a dedicated bike lane on the Queensboro Bridge
Anyone who has ever ridden a bike across the Brooklyn Bridge understands the inherent danger. One elevated gangplank cuts down the middle of the bridge, divided in half: one lane for pedestrians, the other for cyclists. The problem? The pedestrians are often tourists; they often meander dreamily into the bike lane, and they often pose mortal danger to themselves and any cyclist who may be careening towards them at 15 miles per hours. Or more.
“There was always a thrill of going over the bridge and not knowing if you’d get to the other side alive,” deadpans Lucia Moses, a journalist who used to commute from Brooklyn by bike.
That is about to change. Cyclists will get a dedicated lane on the Brooklyn Bridge this year, according to a new plan announced by Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Bridges for the People” will replace the bridge’s innermost car lane with a two-way bike lane. The narrow wooden promenade, shared by cyclists and pedestrians without a barrier between them, will now be reserved for only those on foot. Queensboro Bridge will also get a new bike lane, in a move to bring the bridges “into the 21st century and embrace the vision of a future without cars with a radical new plan.”
The bike lanes come just as cycling has seen a citywide boom during the pandemic, with New Yorkers opting for alternative modes of transportation and exercise. East River crossings have surged 55 percent in the pandemic, according to city comptroller data from November.
“I’m glad the city is starting to make New York more bike friendly,” says Andrew Bennett, founder of the Good Company Bike Club, which plans frequent group rides through the city for both fun and to raise awareness of issues facing Black cyclists. “Often we default to Manhattan Bridge when planning routes because even though it’s further out of the way, it’s a smoother ride, no people and tourists to avoid, and has a dedicated bike lane. Now having a bike lane on Brooklyn Bridge will be a great alternative to reaching Manhattan.”
Construction on the bike lanes is supposed to finish this year. De Blasio unveiled “Bridges for the People,’’ nearly eight years after announcing his Vision Zero initiative to protect pedestrians and cyclists, in his final State of the City address last night. The sweeping speech also revealed plans to vaccinate 5 million New Yorkers by June, a tax credit program to help small businesses, and a plan for communities to have a direct voice in selecting NYPD precinct commanders. Bike-friendly initiatives include the construction of five new “Bike Boulevards,” streets that prioritize bicycle safety and a permanent commitment to open streets and public spaces.
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