Brooklyn Bridge’s SUV Ban Hidden in Plain Sight


It isn’t just in California where SUV’s are secretly banned from certain roadways. Right here in New York City, many SUVs are banned from the Brooklyn Bridge, but nobody seems to know it.

Following on a Slate article about a similar phenomenon in California that came to our attention on Tuesday, Streetsblog correspondent Jason Varone snapped pictures of the signs pointing out the three-ton weight limit on the Brooklyn Bridge. Guess what? Navigators and Escalades are over the limit. So are Chevy Surburbans, Dodge Durangos, GMC Yukons, Hummers, Land Rovers, Range Rovers, Mercedes M Class 320 and 500s, Toyota Land Cruisers and Sequoias, and Ford Expeditions, among other SUV models.

Coming as it does underneath a sign reading "No trucks or buses," most motorists undoubtedly assume that the 3-ton weight limit is meant to discourage trucks and buses only, not SUVs. And so they drive over it every day while the police, heavily present on a bridge that has been the target of foiled terrorist plots, fail to enforce the law.

As the decades have gone by, the number of people crossing the Brooklyn Bridge has decreased tremendously, but the weight of their stuff has gone up. One hopes the SUV owners stuck in traffic next time the bridge has to undergo the extra maintenance required by all that extra daily weight will pause for a moment of introspection and look in the rearview mirror when they wonder who’s to blame.

The weight limit is posted on the Brooklyn entrance as well.


  • mike

    I wonder if this weight limit also exists on other bridges in NYC, or maybe it’s just because the Brooklyn Bridge is the oldest.

  • mike

    Note that we should be paying attention to curb weight, not gross vehicle weight, so unless you have some very heavy people and/or freight in these SUVs, not all them are over 3 tons.

  • Actually, Mike, the Clean Air Act measures gross vehicle weight, and tax credits are based on the same.

    See this from the article. I argue it shouldn’t be a double standard:

    “However, those who take the federal and state tax breaks for their heavy SUVs are happy to accept the GVWR as their vehicle’s official weight. After all, they must be over 6K to get the write-off. Yet now they’re arguing that the actual weight of the vehicle as it rides along California streets may be slightly under 6K. Since the weight at any given time could depend on how many bags of groceries are in the back, and very few residential streets have their own scales, we will never know. (Of course, this isn’t an issue for the Hummer and some other vehicles, which break the 6K barrier by any measure.)

    In other words, owners say their SUVs are over 6K when it benefits them and under 6K when it burdens them.

    Here’s my solution: Pick a number and stick with it. If owners of heavy SUVs prefer to use the lower curb weight, fine with me. I won’t squawk about them cruising down streets with 6K limits, as long as the feds make them ineligible for 6K tax breaks. But if they want to hold onto their write-offs, and the ability to claim them using the GVWR, they shouldn’t turn around and argue the GVWR doesn’t apply in other governmental contexts as well.”

  • Aw. I can’t wait to watch them start enforcing this! What a great law, let’s use it.

  • john

    The cops who can afford it are driving SUVs and pickups — they’re not going to enforce this.

    Among the lawbreakers in California is the Governor.

  • joe

    I wonder if the cops will arrest the SUV drivers & passengers for permitting without a permit?

  • dannybigboi

    I’m with Matthew…they should pick a side (truck or not-a-truck) and stick to that.

    How about the fact that SUVs are EXEMPT from EPA gas mileage requirements because they are classified as TRUCKS yet you see them every day cruising up and down highways with restrictions against TRUCKS such as the Merritt Parkway and the Hutchinson River Parkway and the rest of the Robert Moses “parkway” system.

    They should be banned from those too.

    That’d be real funny.

  • mike

    No, I agree with you folks. I was just pointing out a possible objection.

    So I looked up the applicable NYC laws regarding this issue in the NYC Traffic Rules:

    Section 4-15 (b)(13):
    “Weight and height restrictions on bridges, viaducts and other structures. No person shall operate or move a vehicle or combination of
    vehicles over, on or through any bridge, viaduct or other structures on any highway if the weight of such vehicle or combination of vehicles and load is greater than the posted capacity of the structure or exceeds the height of the posted clearance as shown by an official sign or other marking or device.”

    Section 4-15 (c):
    “Enforcement, measurement and weight of vehicles. Any law enforcement officer or any inspector of the Department of Consumer Affairs of the City of New York having reason to believe that any vehicle or load is in violation of the restrictions in subdivision(b), above, is authorized to stop the vehicle on any public highway or private
    street open to public motor vehicle traffic and measure and weigh it by means of portable or stationary measures and scales. Any law enforcement officer or such inspector may require that the vehicle be driven to the nearest scales, if they are within 3 miles.”

    So, if the cops have “reason to believe” that the truck is in violation, they can make them drive up to 3 miles away to get them weighed if they don’t happen to have a portable scale.

    Anybody know where the nearest weigh station to the Brooklyn Bridge is?

    Interestingly enough, if we are just talking about gross weight here, and not curb weight, it looks as if sub-section (h) bans Hummer H2s (with a gross weight of 8600 lbs) from the FDR Drive from 23rd to 63rd Street:

    Section 4-14 (h):
    “Vehicular Weights on F.D.R. Drive. No person shall operate or cause to be operated any vehicle in excess of 8000 lbs. (4 tons), including the weight of passengers and cargo, on the F.D.R. Drive northbound from 23rd Street to 63rd Street and the F.D.R. Drive southbound from 63rd Street to 23rd Street. These vehicles include, but shall not be limited to trucks, vans, government-owned vehicles, stretch limousines and buses. Buses with Department of Transportation permits will be permitted northbound until 42nd Street and southbound until 96th Street. For the purposes of enforcement, signs need not be posted for this rule to be in effect.”

    NYC Traffic rules can be found here:

  • mike

    Sorry, that should be curb weight for the Hummer H2.

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  • Phunk

    dannybigboi –

    I would love it if they would ban these behemoths from the parkways. Having to drive the Hutch every morning for work I can’t tell you how many of these pork beasts show up after the Labor Day weekend when school starts back up. It’s a veritable parade of parents on cell phones not paying attention and clogging up the lanes.

    It’d cut down the volume at least 25%

  • Damn, how will all the NY Fire Department/FBI/CIA and all other GM Suburban-ified government workers get around?

    Oh wait…laws are only for the little guys.

  • Keef

    …They only put weight limitations on bridges that are found to be structurally defiant. Has nothing to do with banning SUV’s. it has to do with shitty bridges.


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