Queens Pol Demands More Space for Cyclists and Peds on Queensboro Bridge

People biking and walking in both directions must compete for the same narrow space on the Queensboro Bridge. Photo: Clarence Eckerson
People biking and walking in both directions must compete for the same narrow space on the Queensboro Bridge. Photo: Clarence Eckerson

The city must give cyclists and pedestrians their own pathways on the cramped Queensboro Bridge, Queens Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer said on Monday — one day before he plans to hold a rally to protest dangerous overcrowding on the span’s shared bike and walking route.

The Sunnyside pol, who is running for Queens Borough President, will join transportation and bike advocates, who have long been calling for the city to create dedicated pathways on the East River crossing instead of forcing them to share one narrow lane.

“We’re calling on DOT to keep all New Yorkers safe [and] create a dedicated and protected bike pathway on the Queensboro Bridge,” said Van Bramer. 

Thousands of cyclists cross the Queensboro Bridge daily — the combined number of people walking and biking across even outnumbered cars —and that number is still only climbing.

The city can’t wait to separate bikers from those who cross the bridge by foot — it’s a safety hazard, Van Bramer said. 

“Right now the existing bike pedestrian pathway is overcrowded and dangerous and it is only getting more and more crowded as more people bike to work and more and more people are walking over the bridge as well,” he said.

Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, seen here at a vigil for a dead cyclist earlier this year, says the DOT could make the Queensboro Bridge safer with more space for cyclists and pedestrians. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman
Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, seen here at a vigil for a dead cyclist earlier this year, says the DOT could make the Queensboro Bridge safer with more space for cyclists and pedestrians. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman

People have already gotten seriously hurt on the bridge because there’s just not enough space for everyone. Cyclist Josh Arfield said he recently broke his elbow and clavicle, and suffered a concussion as he swerved to avoid a pedestrian and crashing into another biker head on.

“The pedestrian suddenly and unexpectedly moved to the left and raised her left arm,” said Arfield. “As is well known, there is not enough room for pedestrians and two-way bike traffic on that path.”

Cyclists want the Department of Transportation to convert the bridge’s outermost eastbound car lane — also known as the south outer roadway — into a pedestrian path so that bicyclists can take full use of the north outer roadway. But DOT says it can’t consider any changes until it replaces the upper deck of the bridge next year.

“We want to first get through our project. Obviously we’re doing planning on that, thinking as soon as that project is done what we can do to make the bridge bike friendly,” DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg told Streetsblog.

Van Bramer said that not only is there more than enough room drivers — but the de Blasio administration needs to show that it’s serious about reducing carbon emissions. 

“It’s not good enough to wait.” he said. “If we care about the environment, if you say you are for the Green New Deal … then you got to get away from all of this talk about protecting space for cars and talk more about creating more space for cyclists and pedestrians.”

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