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