NYPD Celebrates Independence Day By Closing Off Bridge Paths for Biking and Walking

When police blocked access to the Williamsburg and Manhattan bridge bicycle and pedestrian paths for the Fourth of July fireworks, some people risked biking in traffic.

Police officers blocking the Brooklyn entrance to the Williamsburg Bridge bicycle and pedestrian path last night. Photo: @davejohannes
Police officers blocking the Brooklyn entrance to the Williamsburg Bridge bicycle and pedestrian path last night. Photo: @davejohannes

NYPD officers were stationed at both sides of the Manhattan and Williamsburg bridge bicycle and pedestrian paths for hours last night, blocking access across the East River for people biking and walking.

No public notice was provided about the closures, which ostensibly were to prevent crowds forming on the bridge paths during the fireworks display on the East River.

Instead of bringing their bikes onto trains packed with Fourth of July crowds or going several miles out of their way to another bridge crossing, some people biked on the main roadway of the Williamsburg Bridge, alongside car and truck traffic moving at highway speeds. Dave Johannes captured the scene on Twitter:

NYPD also closed the Pulaski Bridge to people biking and walking, but people in cars were allowed to stop and take in the fireworks, according to Rebecca Baird-Remba.

The NYPD’s street closure listings did not mention the bridges, and there were no announcements posted to DOT’s Facebook or Twitter pages, as is typical during closures of this kind.

  • Vooch

    4 feet good
    2 feet bad

  • Larry Littlefield

    “No public notice was provided about the closures, which ostensibly were to prevent crowds forming on the bridge paths during the fireworks display on the East River.”

    Why would crowds on the bike/ped paths be a problem? Would they have issues carrying the weight?

  • Tooscrapps

    I’ve had to do this when they closed down the bike/ped access for some anti-Trump march last year. A group of us on Williamsburg side got so fed up waiting we just banded together and crossed. Motorists were surprisingly cordial.

  • Simon Phearson

    Given that I saw some signs go up before the Fourth warning of this closure, I’m really surprised to see it covered here on Streetsblog only after the fact. Do none of you use the W’burg bridge? Do none of you know anyone who does?

  • c2check

    Seems like it would just be an issue with crowd control if the path got really full, since there are no ways to get out in an emergency. A couple years ago I was on the JFK on the 4th (bad idea), and while it was basically a cattle chute, they at least kept clear a ~10′ path using the police fencing.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Then perhaps the city should limit access and sell tickets for a nominal price.

  • Every year, cars pull over on the BQE under the Brooklyn Heights promenade. First blocking one lane, then two and then the remaining lane slowly becomes a drive 1 mph lane while fireworks go off and for like 30-45 minutes the road backs up. It’s insane they do not station anyone there, but, yeah bike paths on bridges are a problem….

  • Vooch

    any way we could make this a permanent feature of the BQE ?

  • calwatch

    What you would do is meter the people on the bridge so that you only let people on when people come out.

  • Reader

    The closures weren’t listed on DOT’s social media pages or even here:


    One might think DOT could have let Transalt, Streetsblog, and other advocacy sites know about this in advance. They also could have suggested safe alternate routes as they do for drivers.

  • Kwyjibo

    1 – Observe notice of bike path closure.
    2 – Say nothing.
    3 – Complain because no one else submitted a tip.

  • Simon Phearson

    Sure, I’ll submit a tip next time. Totally my bad here.

  • r

    Ride it every day. Never saw any signs. And what about people who ride it only occasionally and who were left with no other option to get across the river? DOT messed up here.

  • Simon Phearson

    I rode the WB, both ways, on the 3rd. There was a sign on the WB side about the closure, though it didn’t specify the time. I’m not sure I saw a sign on the Manhattan side. I rode by the Queens entrance of the QB side, as well, though I didn’t see any noteworthy signs there.

    I’m not trying to justify the NYPD’s actions as justified or properly noticed. I’m just saying that I’m surprised none of the Streetsbloggers were looking into it on the third or letting readers know about it.

  • Dave Stewart

    About 7 pm, I Citibiked from Manhattan to Williamsburg to see the fireworks… didn’t see any closure warnings on the bridge at that time. Later, I tried to Citibike back to Manhattan, but was among the bikers turned away from the bridge by police. We were told that the bridge wouldn’t reopen until at least 11 pm… a full hour after the fireworks had ended. Why?
    I wound up biking back to the L train, parking the Citibike and squeezing into the overcrowded subway. Got back on a Citibike once I reached Manhattan… wasted about half hour in the misadventure.

  • walks bikes drives

    Better yet, post signs about not stopping on the bridge and assign three officers on bikes to just go back and forth making people move. Not hard.

  • walks bikes drives

    At least there were enough of them to make a group. Safety in numbers.

  • BruceWillisThrowsACar@You

    Be more fking specific. I personally saw and read that sign on the BK side stating that the Williamsburg bridge “WALKWAY” will be closed. Any reasonable person would NOT consider the BIKEWAY a WALKWAY to begin with. Second, fk the lack of proper notice and transparency. It goes the way of disrespect for valid traffic.

  • r

    Wow. One whole sign. I can’t imagine why thousands of people didn’t send tips to Streetsblog.

  • Wilfried84

    This happened to me last year. I rode into Brooklyn, and tried to come back over the Manhattan Bridge at around 5pm. Closed. A cop told me the Williamsburg was open, so I and another cyclist rode up (she was newbie, and didn’t know the way, so I escorted her). Williamsburg was also closed. We ended up taking the J train. Another rider told us this happens every year. This year, I avoided leaving Manhattan.

  • Chris Mcnally

    I tweeted DOT asking about the closures the day before. They told me to check with NYPD. It sounds to me like it was out of DOTs control. I looked all over the DOT site for info before I tweeted and there was nothing.

  • George L

    It’s solely an NYPD closure as it was for security, not road safety or repairs.

  • George L

    They don’t control these nor are notified. This is an NYPD closure.

  • George L

    It basically is.

  • George L

    No other options at all? Couldn’t take the train, bus or cab?

  • KeNYC2030

    Anyone want to bet that the NYPD will do this on July 4, 2019, during the L-pocalypse?


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