The ride to Manhattan is about to get twice as crowded.
The city is shutting the Williamsburg Bridge’s south pathway for six weeks this summer to improve its security — forcing pedestrians and cyclists to use only one path to get between Brooklyn and its western suburb.
More than 6,200 cyclists now use the bridge’s two pathways each day — nearly double the number from three years ago, according to the city.
But beginning on June 13, bikers and walkers will be only able to use the S. Fifth Street gateway as city workers install new roadblocks on S. Sixth Street to prevent small cars from plowing through the entrance to the bridge’s cycle path.
“It’s a post–9-11 world — all bridges are getting added security,” said Teresa Toro, a transportation expert involved with the project. “The intent is to prevent smaller vehicles from being driven onto those areas of the bridge.”
But cyclists fear a summer of collisions.
Tensions between cyclists and pedestrians reached fever pitch when the city closed the bridge’s walkway last April — as bikers blamed pedestrians for ambling too slowly and pedestrians chastised speedy cyclists for clipping walkers.
Sometimes cyclists crashed into other cyclists, creating bloody scenes that shocked passersby.
This year, cycling advocates are preaching a new message: share the road.
Caroline Samponaro of Transportation Alternatives, believes that cyclists have an important role in slowing down and setting a “positive tone” to make sure pedestrians feel safe.
“This might mean adding some minutes to your individual commute for the collective good, but the Williamsburg Bridge offers some of the bests views in the city and your ride across it can become a new way to meet some of your bicycling neighbors,” said Samponaro.
But Times Up!’s Ben Shepard’s called the closure a “risky move” and advised his fellow riders to avoid commuting over the Williamsburg Bridge entirely during June and July if possible.
“I really recommend people schlep down to DUMBO and ride the Manhattan Bridge,” said Shepard. “I wouldn’t take any chances.”
©2011 Community News Group
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