DOT Has Closed the Queensboro Bridge Bike/Ped Path Overnight for 16 of the Past 24 Months

...and still hasn't come up with a reasonable alternative for people looking to bike over the bridge at night.

Without access to the north outer roadway, cyclists have to either wait for a circuitous shuttle bus or find another way over the bridge. Photo: Angela Stach
Without access to the north outer roadway, cyclists have to either wait for a circuitous shuttle bus or find another way over the bridge. Photo: Angela Stach

The Queensboro Bridge bike/ped path has been closed from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. for 16 of the last 24 months while ConEdison conducts electrical repair work. Currently, a six-week closure that began on May 21 is making nighttime trips especially difficult for working cyclists. Despite the regularity of the closures, DOT still hasn’t worked out a reasonable alternative for people who count on overnight access to the path.

When the closures began last spring, advocates called on DOT to make the bridge’s south outer roadway available for walking and biking during the closures. (Right now, however, the south outer roadway is also closed overnight.) Instead, people who bike over the bridge at night have to make do with a circuitous shuttle bus service or find another way home.

Image: DOT
Image: DOT

Rather than wait for the uncomfortable, time-consuming shuttle, Queens resident Steve Scofield has chosen the latter option. He takes the tram to Roosevelt Island, where he can bike home to Astoria.

“The shuttle bus, even with the best of intentions, it could add a good 45 minutes to an hour and a half to your trip, particularly if you’re the unfortunate person who just misses the shuttle bus, so your bike becomes the first one in and last one out,” Scofield said.

From his observations, Scofield said most of the people affected by the bike path closure appear to be working cyclists heading to or from their jobs.

Opening the south outer roadway to non-motorized transport would make sense even without the closures. The current bike/ped path, on the north outer roadway, gets uncomfortably crowded during peak hours.

“The north outer roadway is getting a little bit scary during rush hours,” he said. “If you get two bikes trying to pass each other at the same time two are walking abreast, it just doesn’t work.”

  • Driver

    I sometimes drive over the bridge at night and see that often work is being performed on both the north and south outer roadways. DOT should be able to cone off one lane each direction of the lower roadway for bicycles and advise passenger cars to use the upper roadway.

  • JK

    The solution here is to give cyclists the South Outer Roadway while the NOR is under construction. The shuttle is expensive and nearly useless. Who is going to wait 20min for a shuttle when their commute only takes 30 minutes when the bridge is open? That’s just dumb. While Manhattan bound, I counted 100 cyclists Queens bound on a Friday night at about 1midnight a couple of months before the overnight closure. They looked like restaurant workers and office cleaners.

  • Derek Magee

    There also is no real communication happening – I have taken the north path on a number of evenings that it should have been closed according to the project timeline. At this point, it’s a complete gamble whether or not I’ll be able to cross over to Queens each night I ride. There should be advance notice, and signs posted at least on 1st and 2nd Ave to allow people to change their route before they reach 59th St.

    It’s also frustrating that the project timeline keeps getting delayed, as the signs now show December 2017 as the end date. I’m not sure when it was originally scheduled to end, but this is completely ridiculous. If this city truly viewed cycling as a serious transportation option, they would not let this continue.

  • Vooch

    great idea – reallocate one motor lane

  • JudenChino

    How could the city treat is residents like such shit like this? We’re talking late at night, it’d have no impact on car traffic to give bikes a lane. I just don’t understand why the city would treat people like this.

    They looked like restaurant workers and office cleaners.

    Case closed.
    ***
    I remember when I lived on the LES and I had like 3 bikes in my living room and the delivery guy was like oh, nice bikes, oh yah, I bike in every day from Jackson Heights. So yah, they deliver our food in Manhattan and then head back to Queens late at night. And this is how we treat them. Oh, and don’t use an e-bike because our laws are cruel and our enforcers and local pols are stupid.

  • Andrew

    It probably hasn’t even occurred to whoever made this decision that some people actually use bicycles for actual transportation (as opposed to merely recreation).

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