How About Opening Up Another Lane on the Queensboro Bridge for Walking and Biking This Summer?

With more nighttime closures of the bridge's biking and walking path coming this month, DOT could use the opportunity to test out opening the south outer roadway to cyclists and pedestrians.

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

After several weeks of nighttime closures, the Queensboro Bridge biking and walking path reopened on Saturday night, but the return of 24/7 access will be short-lived. Overnight closures due to Con Edison electrical work start again July 6 and will run through July 28.

As with previous closures, ConEd will provide a nighttime shuttle to get people across the bridge. But that’s not a viable option for many people. Waiting for the shuttle can add upwards of 45 minutes to a trip across the bridge.

The closures are especially hard on Queens residents who rely on the bridge to get to and from work late at night, when subway service is less frequent. Soon after the closures began, Queens bike advocates pushed DOT to give cyclists access to the south outer roadway, which carries motor vehicle traffic during the day but is closed overnight. So far, no dice, but as the closures stretch into a second summer, it’s an idea that makes too much sense to ignore.

Car traffic is lighter in the summer, which is why DOT tends to try out significant changes in roadway configurations during the warmer months. The Broadway plazas debuted during Memorial Day weekend, for instance, and car-free hours in parks usually expand during the summer. Why not try out a car-free south outer roadway on the Queensboro Bridge with a summer trial?

The current biking and walking path on the bridge’s north outer roadway is already uncomfortably crowded during peak hours. Opening up the south outer roadway this summer could give cyclists a much needed nighttime route across the bridge, relieve crowding on the Queensboro’s existing path, and lay the groundwork for NYC’s next big permanent transfer of street space to walking and biking.

  • sbauman

    During the two week long 1980 subway/bus strike, the south lane was for bikes and the north lane for pedestrians. Anybody believing that traffic would back up to Yellowstone Blvd or New Jersey should consider that two week period. It was when reason overcame hysteria.

  • Driver

    Con Ed is also doing work from the South outer roadway. Cyclists who use the South outer roadway as an alternative should be cautious, as there are sometimes work vehicles on this road at night.

  • Adrian Horczak

    The DOT commissioner, Polly Trottenberg, said that traffic is self-correcting, so if there is a lot of traffic on the bridge due to the use of the south outer roadway as a bike/pedestrian path, people will just stop driving. Also, many express buses use the Midtown Tunnel to enter Manhattan, but use the Queeensboro Bridge to exit, so why not have them use the Midtown Tunnel both ways?

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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

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