Skip to Content
Streetsblog New York City home
Log In

NYPD Has Found Yet Another Way to Completely Screw Up the Brooklyn Bridge Footpath

1:58 PM EDT on April 30, 2019

Not only was the center stripe faded, but pedestrian and biker silhouettes had faded from each side of the path. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman

This chicane is a real pain.

The NYPD has created a new headache for cyclists and pedestrians along the overcrowded Brooklyn Bridge footpath, deploying police vehicles in an offset pattern that forces cyclists into the path of pedestrians and pedestrians into the path of cyclists — worsening the already-dangerous conditions on a route that is often called "The Times Square of the Sky."

Here's how NYPD vehicles were deployed before. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman
Here's how NYPD vehicles were deployed before. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman

Typically, chicanes are deployed as a way of slowing down drivers, but cycling speeds on the Brooklyn Bridge are far lower than along other bike paths, owing to the congestion. The city says it can't even begin planning a path-winding project [PDF] until a cable inspection is completed next year. (We asked the NYPD, DOT and City Hall to explain the new strategy, but none got back to us before initial publication of this story. Later, NYPD spokeswoman Sergeant Jessica McRorie sent us a terse email: "There have been no recent changes to enforcement on the Brooklyn Bridge," she said.)

Cycling advocates said it's just the latest epic fail by the NYPD, which has already installed additional rows of bollards and continually stations officers in vehicles parked directly on the wood footpath — officers who spend a lot of their time sitting in said vehicles on their phones.

These vendors could easily be removed. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman
These vendors could easily be removed. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman

“There’s nothing good to say about the city’s management of the Brooklyn Bridge promenade," said Jon Orcutt, spokesman for Bike NY and a former city official. "From DOT slow-walking its own plan to expand the path to police aggravating intense crowding, it’s basically abdication.”

The latest effort to obstruct pedestrians and cyclists follows years of confusion and dismay from the bridge's non-car users about why no one seems able or willing to fix the footpath, where hundreds of thousands of tourists compete with New York commuters on feet and wheels for space on a pathway that is just 10-feet wide at several narrow pinchpoints.

Cyclists mostly avoid the fabled span because of the crowds, but sometimes the bridge, which links DUMBO and Brooklyn Heights to Manhattan's civic core, is the shortest distance between two key points. Last month, Streetsblog collected all the anecdotes into a simple list of recommendations that could be undertaken in a single afternoon — such low-hanging fruit as re-painting all the faded bike and pedestrian icons to keep users aware of their space, re-deploying the NYPD vehicles from the narrowest stretches of the path, removing excessive security barriers that block the path and cause unsafe conditions and, no less important, evicting scores of illegal vendors who lined the pathway.

None of those suggestions has been taken. In fact, this week's NYPD strategy has only lengthened the list.

The pinchpoint.
The pinchpoint.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog New York City

Monday’s Headlines: ‘What is Up With All These Flip-Flops, Mayor?’ Edition

It's the same old story with this mayor and his chief adviser, Ingrid Lewis-Martin. Plus other news.

September 25, 2023

Why Sustainable Transportation Advocates Need to Talk About Long COVID

Covid-19 transformed many U.S. cities' approach to sustainable transportation forever. But how did it transform the lives of sustainable transportation advocates who developed lasting symptoms from the disease?

September 24, 2023

Analysis: ‘Dangerous Vehicle Abatement Program’ is a Failure By All Measures

The Department of Transportation wants the Dangerous Vehicle Abatement Program to simply expire in part because it did not dramatically improve safety among these worst-of-the-worst drivers and led to a tiny number of vehicle seizures.

September 22, 2023

School Bus Driver Kills Cyclist in Boro Park, 24th Bike Death of 2023

Luis Perez-Ramirez, 44, was biking south on Fort Hamilton Parkway just before 3:15 p.m. when he was struck a by school bus driver making a right turn.

September 22, 2023

‘Betrayal’: Adams Caves to Opposition, Abandons Bus Improvement Plan on Fordham Road

The capitulation on Fordham Road is the latest episode in which the mayor has delayed or watered down a transportation project in deference to powerful interests.

September 22, 2023
See all posts