The Brooklyn Bridge bike lane is finally open

September 15, 2021

Photo by the New York City Department of Transportation on Flickr

A long-awaited two-way protected bike lane officially opened on the Brooklyn Bridge Tuesday. Advocated for years by cyclists, the new path replaces the innermost car lane of the Manhattan-bound side of the iconic bridge and leaves the existing elevated promenade for pedestrians only. Both foot and bike traffic on the bridge, nicknamed the “Times Square in the Sky,” skyrocketed in recent years, leading to dangerous, crowded conditions.

Photo by the New York City Department of Transportation on Flickr

During his State of the City address in January, Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled his “Bridges for the People” plan for the Brooklyn Bridge and the Queensboro Bridge amid a cycling boom prompted by the coronavirus pandemic and desire to reduce reliance on cars.

“There’s no better sign that the cycling boom is here to stay than permanently redesigning the most iconic bridge in America,” de Blasio said. “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.”

According to city officials, the addition of the two-way bike lane is the first reconfiguration of the bridge since trolley tracks were permanently removed in 1950.

Work by the city’s Department of Transportation involved installing barrier segments, building a new connecting bike path in Manhattan, and adding protecting fencing on the inside of the bridge.

Over the years, many officials and advocacy groups have recommended ways to fix the congestion problem on the 138-year-old bridge. In 2020, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and the Van Alen Institute launched a design competition seeking creative ways to improve the pedestrian path.

Last year, Transportation Alternatives launched the Bridges 4 People campaign that called on the city to reallocate two car lanes on Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Williamsburg Bridges into safe space for cyclists. The group applauded the opening of the bike lane, but activists still would like a second lane to be added on the Brooklyn-bound side.

“We are thankful to the determined DOT team and our grassroots Bridges 4 People activists whose years of hard work brought this monumental project to the finish line,” Danny Harris, executive director of Transportation Alternatives, said.

“This project is proof that we can reclaim space from cars and prioritize people on our streets. Now, New York City must build on this momentum by expediting plans to make bridges and streets safer, healthier, and more equitable across the five boroughs – especially to combat an alarming rise in traffic violence this year.”


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