Advocates push for bike-pedestrian lane on Verrazano Bridge
Bicyclists and pedestrians should be able cross the Verrazano Bridge just like motorists do, according to a group of advocates pushing for a special lane to be installed on the Brooklyn-Staten Island span.
The Harbor Ring Committee will hold a rally for supporters of a Verrazano Bridge bicycle and pedestrian pathway on Saturday, Oct. 18 on the grounds of Alice Austen House on Staten Island, starting at 11 a.m.
The committee’s goal is to convince the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which supervises the bridge, to put funding for a walkway on each side of the bridge into its 2015-2019 Capital Budget Plan.
“There is tremendous interest in this in Brooklyn as well as Staten Island,” said David Wenger, a lawyer and a member of the Harbor Ring Committee. Wenger said the committee may also hold a rally on the Brooklyn side of the span.
The bridge is officially named the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, but most New Yorkers refer to the span simply as the Verrazano Bridge.
The committee has also started a petition drive on change.org that has generated nearly 4,000 signatures to date. The petition is directed at Governor Andrew Cuomo.
The committee’s name comes from the proposal to have bike and pedestrian lanes all around New York Harbor. “There are bike lanes all around the harbor, except for the Verrazano Bridge. It’s the missing piece of the puzzle,” Wenger told the Brooklyn Eagle.
The Verrazano Bridge, which opened in 1964, has never had a lane for bikes and pedestrians. But Wenger said it wouldn’t be too difficult to put it in. “The design for the George Washington Bridge and the Verrazano Bridge is exactly the same. And the George Washington Bridge has a walkway,” he said.
There would be tremendous health benefits, Wenger said. “Biking is a very healthy way to get around the city. And if pedestrians could walk over the Verrazano Bridge to Staten Island and back, they would be covering a distance of about four miles. It’s great exercise,” he said.
Not to mention the view. “The views from the bridge are spectacular. It would be a thrill to walk over the bridge,” Wenger said.
The idea of putting a walkway-bike lane on the Verrazano Bridge is nothing new. Several years ago, Bay Ridge civic and business leader Chuck Otey started a drive to put a walkway, which he called the “Lifeway,” on the bridge.
In 1997, a study by the Department of City Planning in New York determined it would be feasible to install a walkway-bike path on the Verrazano Bridge without removing any vehicular traffic lanes.
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