Shocking Video From the Brooklyn Bridge “War Path”

Earlier this week we showed Doug Gordon’s incredibly dull video from our ride over the Manhattan Bridge with a member of the Daily News editorial board, a mind-numbingly mundane scene that the paper nevertheless characterized as a “battleground.”

The same day, the Post ran a story about the Brooklyn Bridge promenade under the headline “Look out! It’s B’klyn Bridge’s war path” with the requisite descriptions of hostile confrontations between cyclists and pedestrians and quotes from tourists saying bikes don’t belong on the path. (On the Post’s website, they also ran a much more measured and reasonable video alongside the print story, to their credit. Yes, the Post’s bike coverage is actually less sensational than the Daily News right now.)

Unlike the Manhattan Bridge, which is going through an extended construction headache at the moment and normally has plenty of space, the Brooklyn Bridge can be a pretty uncomfortable place to walk or bike during peak hours, even when the path isn’t narrowed by construction work, as it is now. But what happens when you ask people what should be done about the tight squeeze? Turns out most of them are pretty reasonable and gracious to those on the other side of the path.

Watch as no one takes the bait from reporter Lauren Hawker of BreakThru Radio when she asks if bikes should be banned from the promenade:

Lauren tells us that what you see here is what she got. No one she spoke to said they thought bikes should be banned. Conflict sells papers. Empathy for people getting around a different way than you? Not so much, I suppose.

Now, how about converting a car lane in the off-peak direction into a contraflow bike lane during rush hours on the bridge?

  • Anonymous

    Hilarious!  

  • Jonb

    I think there’s a legitimate concern with the combo of cyclists and peds (particulalry toursits) on the narrow BK bridge boardwalk. I would love love love a serious push by Transportation Alternatives, Streetsblog, and others to get DOT and the city to provide a separate space on the roadway, protected by barriers of course, for cyclists to cross so that the boardwalk can go 100% to the peds. The Bk Bridge is a global treasure. Visitors should not experience such conflicting mixed use when checking it out. And Cyclists should not have to face calls for a complete ban either. DOT should put those smart planning ideas to work here.

  • Alexander Pushkin

    And this, everybody, is why newspapers are dying.  A couple of bloggers or a new media journalist with a video camera can disprove with a few minutes of video what it takes tabloid editors thousands of words to say.

  • Jonb

    of course the conditions aren’t as bad much of the coverage suggest but c’mon people, don’t you think we can do better with the BK Bridge? Doesn’t the vibe on the Bk Bridge boardwalk suck? I’m sure there are many cyclists who deliberately go out of their way to avoid the BK Bridge because the roadway is too narrow for 2 directions of cycling and thousands of tourists. Let’s push for better.

  • Jonb

    of course the conditions aren’t as bad much of the coverage suggest but c’mon people, don’t you think we can do better with the BK Bridge? Doesn’t the vibe on the Bk Bridge boardwalk suck? I’m sure there are many cyclists who deliberately go out of their way to avoid the BK Bridge because the roadway is too narrow for 2 directions of cycling and thousands of tourists. Let’s push for better.

  • Jonb

    of course the conditions aren’t as bad much of the coverage suggest but c’mon people, don’t you think we can do better with the BK Bridge? Doesn’t the vibe on the Bk Bridge boardwalk suck? I’m sure there are many cyclists who deliberately go out of their way to avoid the BK Bridge because the roadway is too narrow for 2 directions of cycling and thousands of tourists. Let’s push for better.

  • Eric McClure

    Maybe our friends at the editorial boards of the local media can get behind the push for that contraflow, off-peak roadbed bike path.  Surely “real New Yorkers” would support making both pedestrians and cyclists safer, right?

    Or will they (and litigious bike lane opponents) continue in their irresponsible bandying of “war” and “battle” themes while Americans daily give their lives in actual wars around the globe?

  • Albert

    “Now, how about converting a car lane in the off-peak direction into a contraflow bike lane during rush hours on the bridge?”

    Yes, please!

  • Albert

    “Now, how about converting a car lane in the off-peak direction into a contraflow bike lane during rush hours on the bridge?”

    Yes, please!

  • Anonymous

    Wait, aren’t there a LOT of tourists starting to ride around NYC on bikes?  Isn’t there a bike rental stand right by the Manhattan end of the BK bridge?  I’m seeing bike rental places pop up everywhere from the West Side Highway to Battery Park to Midtown (which seems insane to me), noticing lots of hotels with racks of bikes for guests in front, etc..  I would imagine many tourists would like to ride over the bridge.  (I saw some poor lost tourists on a tandem trying to extract themselves from the traffic lanes when I was driving across the other day.)  It strikes me that bike infrastructure is becoming more and more of an attraction for tourists, with a huge amount of untapped potential to get people to different landmarks, local businesses, etc.  This video proves that many of them come from bike friendly places, and they’re used to getting around on bikes.  Just putting some separation more noticeable than a painted line would go a long way toward improving things. 

  • Anonymous

    Wait, aren’t there a LOT of tourists starting to ride around NYC on bikes?  Isn’t there a bike rental stand right by the Manhattan end of the BK bridge?  I’m seeing bike rental places pop up everywhere from the West Side Highway to Battery Park to Midtown (which seems insane to me), noticing lots of hotels with racks of bikes for guests in front, etc..  I would imagine many tourists would like to ride over the bridge.  (I saw some poor lost tourists on a tandem trying to extract themselves from the traffic lanes when I was driving across the other day.)  It strikes me that bike infrastructure is becoming more and more of an attraction for tourists, with a huge amount of untapped potential to get people to different landmarks, local businesses, etc.  This video proves that many of them come from bike friendly places, and they’re used to getting around on bikes.  Just putting some separation more noticeable than a painted line would go a long way toward improving things. 

  • IvoryJive

    It’s really a shame that with a billion dollar rehab project going on, not one cent is going towards remediating this situation. I’m not even aware of a study of possible solutions being pursued. Bloomberg – tell ya guys to get it together!

  • “Incredibly dull”? I’ll take that as a complement from one law-abiding non-maniacal bike commuter to another.

    Just goes to show the disconnect between editorial board rooms and real New Yorkers.

  • Eric McClure

    station, you’re obviously not a “real” New Yorker.

  • Anonymous

    … or better still, a dedicated bike path above the roadway.

  • Bolwerk

    My 2 cents: if there isn’t enough room for pedestrians and bikers, perhaps it’s time to take away a lane or two from the cars and let the bikers and pedestrians share?

  • Brooklyn Biker

    I agree, of course, that the Daily News hysterics is ridiculous. However, I also dislike the bike-ped conflict situation on the Brooklyn Bridge and feel like it would be nicer if all those tourists could just wander around up there on one of great tourist sites in the USA without having to worry about bikes.

    In the short-term, I think we need to reallocate a lane of the roadbed for bikes (you could alternate roadbeds based on time of day). In the long-term we have to build a new bike path running atop the roadbed itself.

    As part of this project, the City could create a fly-way that shoots cyclists right into the Cadman Plaza Park on the Brooklyn end. On the Manhattan end you could probably send cyclists down the off-ramp that’s been closed since 9/11 where the cops park their cars.

  • Kirsten Bezuidenhout

    Spare us the smug bullshit and explain to me– a high mileage cyclist AND runner/walker– how so many bicycles (excluding Chinese motorbikes which should be vilified by all) still make it to the north side of the Manhattan?

    And you can shove the silly videos up Naparstek’s ass because you KNOW those don’t mean anything. If you want to “prove” something pay the Skanska construction dudes to do a bike count.

    Personally, I don’t care– and certainly don’t care about peds on the W-I-D-E south side but the propaganda here is ridiculous.

    You want me to take an hour from my day and make videos of all the one way wrong way cyclists on just about ANY one way street near downtown BK or Manhattan?

  • Duh!  She asked a bunch of European tourists who come from countries where cycling is considered normal!

    Still every time I’ve been on the bridge there are a bunch of self-centered cyclists blowing down the path a ridiculous speeds.  The worst are the arrogant “racers” carrying their race wheels back from Central Park.  Puh…lease!

    I do agree that its time to give cyclists there own space on the bridge, preferably from the car lanes, as others have suggested.  In the meantime, it’s time for NYC cyclists to learn some manners and the rules of the road.

  • Joe R.

    I agree with everyone else who mentioned the idea of giving the cyclists their own space elsewhere on the bridge.  Like it or not, the Brooklyn Bridge is a major tourist attraction.  People walking across taking pictures shouldn’t have to mix with speeding cyclists.  And cyclists who have somewhere to be should be able to ride normally, without fear of pedestrians encrouching on their path.  Right now what we have is (literally) an accident waiting to happen.

  • Gldejean

    Why not put some plastic dividers to separate the bike lane from the pedestrian areas.
     

  • Gldejean

    Why not put some plastic dividers to separate the bike lane from the pedestrian areas.
     

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