Fancy Heights walkway won’t get high fence

The Brooklyn Paper
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A proposed city law intended to protect walkers, cyclists and drivers from projectile-hurling delinquents would require pedestrian overpasses to be flanked with tall fencing — except for the expensive footbridge planned to connect Brooklyn Heights with Brooklyn Bridge Park.

Eleven councilmembers including Brad Lander (D–Park Slope) are pushing for a bill that requires the city to install inward-curved, 8-foot-tall fences on footbridges crossing over streets after attacks against cyclists from a walkway between two Fort Greene housing projects and a Manhattan incident in which children dropped a shopping cart onto a woman.

The proposed legislation applies to “bridges between buildings” and overpasses “under the jurisdiction” of the city — but doesn’t include the much-anticipated $6.2 million footbridge designed to link Squibb Park to Brooklyn Bridge Park above Furman Street, according to architects in charge of the project.

Footbridge designer and MacArthur “genius” Ted Zoli says his planned walkway will skirt the proposed bill — which goes to vote next week — due to a rare and controversial partnership between the city and the private developers building Brooklyn Bridge Park.

The Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation, which hired Zoli and his team of architects, is in charge of the footbridge design and was not required to get Department of Transportation approval for its fencing.

“It was specifically not included because the city did not review the bridge for compliance,” he said.

Zoli’s meandering locust plank footbridge doesn’t look much like the drab overpass on Navy Street between Tillary and Myrtle streets where the city recently installed a taller mesh fence — one that critics say looks like it belongs in a jail — after kids injured and terrorized at least seven cyclists.

But the fencing discrepancy irks transportation safety advocates and park-boosters, who say the rule should be upheld on every pedestrian overpass citywide — no matter if it’s in posh Brooklyn Heights or between the Ingersoll and Walt Whitman projects.

“The less protection you have, the more likely the attacks will happen again,” said Stephen Arthur, a cyclist who was hit with a brick in Fort Greene. “Are they trying to send the message that one ‘type’ of person is more likely to commit this crime?”

Others say the problem is the lack of oversight bred by the public-private Brooklyn Bridge Park project.

“The city should have already considered this,” said Roy Sloane of the Brooklyn Bridge Park’s advisory council. “But [the developers] have been able to evade scrutiny from public bodies for years.”

Ellen Ryan, a spokeswoman for Brooklyn Bridge Park, said “it’s premature to speculate” on the bill. Lander did not return calls by press time.

But even park advocates say the whole thing smacks of unfairness.

“If it’s about safety then why should this park be exempt?” said Tony Manheim said of the Park’s advisory council.

Reach reporter Natalie O'Neill at or by calling her at (718) 260-4505.
Updated 5:30 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

gggg from ggg says:
The article is unclear if the city lacks the power to regulate the bridge or the will to regulate the bridge. It doesn't seem like the bill left the bridge out, right?

People can judge for themselves:

"§19-154 Fencing on Elevated Pedestrian Passageways. Except as provided herein, any plazas, ramps, overpasses, sidewalks, passageways, and similar locations under the jurisdiction of the department or another city agency for use in whole or in part by pedestrians which are elevated more than five feet above a vehicular or pedestrian right of way shall be enclosed by a fence no less than eight feet in height, that curves inward at the top of such fence toward such plaza, ramp, overpass, sidewalk, passageway or similar location."
Feb. 23, 2012, 8:49 am
JudahSpechal from BedStuy says:
Come on, these forward thinking politicians are just afraid that some suicidal individual may sue for preventing them from completing their objective.
Feb. 23, 2012, 11 am
Harry from Da Heights! says:
That bridge is one of the most ill-conceived ideas ever! This isn't some walkway within an enclosed nature preserve; it's going to function like a sidewalk in the sky. And while I generally think JudahSpechal is just spewing, he's right to consider that there will be jumpers from this thing. AND kids throwing things. It is going to be infamous.

The HighLine has dozens of staff watching over people all the time the thing is open. Will Brooklyn Bridge Park do the same? I think not. Infamous.
Feb. 23, 2012, 11:40 am
Scott from Park Slope says:
It's hard to imagine hooligans from Brooklyn Heights dropping objects on the BQE below, but it's not so hard to imagine suicides or hooligans from elsewhere causing trouble. The walkway should be covered.

The walkway does not, however, have to be covered with ugly chainlink fence. There are many artful ways to preserve safety without sacrificing aesthetics. Done well, the walkway could become as photographed as the patterns in the cables of Brooklyn Bridge.

The walkway itself, however, provides an essential connection to the Brooklyn Bridge Park. Without it, Heights residents will have to walk to Cadman Plaza, which will cross up drivers transitioning from the Brooklyn Bridge to the BQE, or south to Atlantic, again crossing up drivers entering or exiting the BQE. Everybody would be unhappy with those alternatives.

The walkway is not yet built. Its design can be adjusted. Let's hope the end product proves the practical and artistic triumph Brooklyn deserves.
Feb. 23, 2012, 12:11 pm
Sajh from Brooklyn Heights says:
The Promenade itself overhangs on the BQE. I cant think of anything of recent decade where kids were throwing these at cars below or people jumping to their deaths. People who want to commit suicide, generally want it to be instant. So no, suicides wont be from a pedestrian walkway. It will be from a high up location where death is assured. Not being hit by several cars and paralized for life.
However, that doesnt mean it should be made easy for temptation on such a busy and important expressway. So I do agree a fence would make sense.
Feb. 24, 2012, 9:05 am
Sajh from Brooklyn Heights says:
Oh and Scott from Park Slope, actually there is a street that allows people not to across that southbound entranceway to the BQE. You have to go into Brooklyn Heights (not down old Fulton/Cadman), walk over to Columbia Heights, down the steep hill and thus avoiding the whole BQE entrance traffic.
Feb. 24, 2012, 9:08 am
Scott from Park Slope says:
Sajh: You are correct. Joralemon goes through. Still, pedestrian traffic follows the path of least resistance. The walkway takes pressure off the conduits I mentioned. People in the center of Brooklyn Heights will use it.

In any case, making the Brooklyn Bridge Park more accessible to its surrounding neighborhood is a good thing. Who doesn't love parks? And Brooklyn Bridge Park is already quite an amazing one.

I don't live in Brooklyn Heights. We go there seldom. But the completion of the Brooklyn Bridge Park and its walkway connection to the Promenade could very easily become one of the city's crown jewels.
Feb. 24, 2012, 12:24 pm
D from Crown Heights says:
You guys are making the inner libertarian in me cry. Let people have the freedom to enjoy the view without some nanny state fence.

If people want to kill themselves by jumping off the bridge, so long as they don't harm anybody else in the process, then by all means let them.

If kids want to throw things off the bridge and they hurt somebody, just put a good camera at all the entrances to the bridge and then you let the police track them down and remove them from NYC.
Feb. 25, 2012, 9:40 am

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