Brooklyn Bridge protected bike lane opens

September 15, 2021 Editorial Staff
The bike lane on the Brooklyn Bridge
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The city on Tuesday cut the ribbon on a long-awaited, two-way protected bike lane along the Brooklyn Bridge. 

In the past, bicyclists shared the existing foot path, or promenade, with pedestrians. As the numbers of both groups grew, this situation led to crowding, congestion and sometimes accidents. 

Now the new bike lane, originally proposed in Mayor Bill de Blasio’s State of the City address this year, has repurposed one lane of vehicular traffic to accommodate the cycling boom. 

In addition, the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) has turned the promenade into a pedestrian-only space. 

This transformation is the first reconfiguration of the world-famous bridge since trolley tracks were permanently removed in 1950.

“There’s no better sign that the cycling boom is here to stay than permanently redesigning the most iconic bridge in America,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “This bike lane is more than just a safe, convenient option for thousands of daily cyclists. It’s a symbol of New York City fully embracing a sustainable future and striking a blow against car culture.”

This ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Manhattan end of the Brooklyn Bridge opened the bridge’s long-awaited, two-way bike lane. Among those seen here are DOT Commissioner Hank Gutman (in sunglasses, toward center) Brooklyn Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon (second from left); Manhattan Councilmember Margaret Chin (next to her, holding up scissors); Brooklyn-Manhattan State Sen. Brian Kavanagh (second from right) and Brooklyn Councilmember Steve Levin. Photo courtesy of NYC DOT

“This is a historic moment as we work to get New Yorkers out of their cars and promote sustainable modes of transportation,” said DOT Commissioner Hank Gutman. “Bridges for the People is a step in the right direction towards a safer and more sustainable transportation future that puts people first – and we look forward to implementing similar changes to the Queensboro Bridge this year.”

Work on the bridge began in June and finished ahead of schedule this month. It included installing barrier segments, creating a new connecting bike path in Manhattan, including new traffic signal construction, adding protective fencing on the interior of the bridge, and implementing traffic changes to help avoid greater congestion Downtown. 

Bike crossings reached up to over 60,000 in the month prior to construction, while pedestrians have numbered more than 10,000 per day in recent years.  

 “I commend Mayor de Blasio, Commissioner Gutman and the Department of Transportation for their efforts to expand bicycle and pedestrian accessibility throughout our city and help people share these spaces safely, and for getting this project done ahead of schedule,” said State Senator Brian Kavanagh, who represents the Manhattan and Brooklyn neighborhoods on both sides of the bridge. “New Yorkers have increasingly taken up bicycles as a healthy and environmentally friendly way to travel.”

“The opening of the Brooklyn Bridge protected bike lane is a great day for New York City. It’s an important step in undoing decades of harmful policies that prioritized cars over people. From Open Streets to Outdoor Dining, we’ve revolutionized our approach to our public spaces in the last 19 months,” said City Council Speaker Corey Johnson.

“I would like to thank the countless bicyclists and pedestrians from the district who have contacted my office over the years to call attention to the insufficient space on the existing Brooklyn Bridge promenade as it is routinely congested with foot traffic. This will allow for a smoother experience for those traversing the Brooklyn Bridge by foot and will create a safe and expedient passage by bicycle,” said Councilmember Steve Levin, whose Brooklyn district stretches from Greenpoint to Gowanus.

“Good Co Bike Club is very excited for this new bike lane….it will make connecting to the West Side Highway much easier, and not to mention, SAFER. The previous lane on the Brooklyn Bridge was accident-prone and bumpy. We’re all about improving cycle infrastructure and making NYC a cleaner, more sustainable city,” said Andrew “Drew” Bennett, founder and CEO of Good Co Bike Club, a bicycle club that centers on the Black community. 

“This is a monumental day for New York City,” said Ken Podziba, President and CEO of Bike New York, which offers bicycle education programs throughout the five boroughs as well as bike tours such as Bike New York. “The bike path will ensure a much safer and more enjoyable ride over the iconic Brooklyn Bridge and undoubtedly lead to more New Yorkers bicycling.”

“The unveiling of the new Brooklyn Bridge bike lane is a major milestone on many levels,” said Liam Blank, a spokesperson for Tri-State Transportation Campaign, an advocacy organization. “Bike traffic over the East River continues to boom, and this new protected bike lane will allow over 60,000 daily cyclists to safely cross between Manhattan and Brooklyn.”

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