Packing ‘em on: Transit honchos reveal plan to expand Brooklyn Bridge’s pedestrian path

Packing ‘em on: Transit honchos reveal plan to expand Brooklyn Bridge’s pedestrian path
Department of Transportation

They want more breathing room on the Brooklyn Bridge.

City officials released a plan to widen the pedestrian promenade on the borough’s namesake span in order to better accommodate the thousands people who cross it on foot and bicycle each day, Department of Transportation honchos announced on Friday.

And it’s about time to fix the Brooklyn Bridge’s current pathway — a dangerous two-lane strip where pedal-pushing cyclists often swerve to avoid picture-taking tourists — according to a local, who said waiting much longer could lead to a fatal catastrophe.

“I was just walking here thinking, ‘Someone’s going to die one day from these cyclists trying to zoom over the bridge,’” said Windsor Terrace resident Camille Winter. “There’s just not enough room with all the tourists who want to take the photos and everything.”

Pedestrians and bike riders crossing the Brooklyn-to-Manhattan bridge currently share one narrow path that’s divided in half: Brooklyn-bound walkers stay to the right of it and cyclists heading to the borough keep to the left. But those traversing either side must share their lane with Manhattan-bound travelers moving towards them in the opposite direction, increasing the chances of collisions.

Local pols for years pushed for ideas to expand the East River crossing’s elevated walking-and-biking path, which Brooklyn Paper readers deemed among Kings County’s scariest places to ride. And in 2016, the city’s transit agency tapped engineering firm AECOM to research congestion-reduction options including widening the pathway.

That study’s results led transportation honchos to release their plan for building out the promenade, which proposes creating two dedicated pedestrian paths and one two-way lane for cyclists — and cites this newspaper’s coverage of calls for expanding the passageway.

But before agency officials make any changes to the landmarked Brooklyn Bridge, which city preservationists would need to approve, they will conduct a roughly two-year study of the span’s cables beginning in 2019 to ensure the crossing can safely hold extra weight, according to transportation-department reps.

Another bridge stroller said he also welcomed a promenade makeover that safely separates those on two wheels from those on two feet in order keep pedestrians safe on the span.

“Sometimes bikers are going very fast and pedestrians are not paying attention, or vice versa, so if they could be separate that would be brilliant,” said Jordyn, who lives in the outer borough of Manhattan and refused to give his last name.

Transit honchos also plan to mitigate congestion on the bridge by restricting the area at its Manhattan end where vendors hawking food and souvenirs can park their carts, which draw crowds that spill into the designated bike lane, according to reps.

And following the agency’s debut of a new car-free gateway at the Brooklyn end of the span, officials said they also want to transform one of the bridge’s old off-ramps in Manhattan, which is now closed to traffic, into a dedicated cyclists’ path that would connect to a recently re-opened bike lane as part of their plan.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Dangerous: Pedal-pushing cyclists often dodge stationary tourists taking photos on the current, narrow pedestrian pathway — seen here in a rare empty state on a particularly cold morning.
Community News Group / Julianne Cuba