Brooklyn Bridge Bike Lane Won’t Be Built Until September at the Earliest

The new rendering for the Brooklyn Bridge bike lane. Photo: DOT
The new rendering for the Brooklyn Bridge bike lane. Photo: DOT

It’s a summer bummer.

The Department of Transportation took its first steps towards building a protected bike lane on the roadbed of the Brooklyn Bridge, showing off renderings of the Centre Street exit on the Manhattan side of the bridge to residents of a Manhattan community board on Tuesday night. The agency also revealed a schedule for the project to Manhattan Community Board 1 — aud it showed that the bike lane wouldn’t be installed until the fall, which means one last summer of cyclists and pedestrians competing for space on the walkway of the iconic span.

The schedule for the bike lane project. Photo: DOT
The schedule for the bike lane project. Photo: DOT

Per the DOT’s presentation, the agency still has to do a traffic study and design of the lane before it comes back to do more community presentations, and then actually build the bike lane in the fall. According to the Gregorian calendar that gives meaning and shape to our lives, autumn does not begin until September 22 this year.

The new details on the bike lane are the first ones that have been shared since Mayor de Blasio announced the historic project (plus more space for cyclists on the Queensboro Bridge) in his State of the City speech in January.

Tuesday night’s presentation involved the DOT showing off the plan for the Manhattan-side entrance and exit for the roadbed bike lane. The design calls for the bike lane to follow the route of the car lanes from the bridge to Centre Street, where the two-way bike lane will be in the middle of the roadway. Drivers and cyclists turning left on to Chambers Street will have a separate left turn phase.

The Manhattan-side entrance and exit for the Brooklyn Bridge roadbed bike lane. Photo: DOT
The Manhattan-side entrance and exit for the Brooklyn Bridge roadbed bike lane. Photo: DOT

Cyclists will also be able to still ride through the sidewalk island between the road and Centre Street, though that would require a hairpin turn coming down the bridge’s slope into Manhattan.

Multiple meeting attendees asked about that sharp turn, but DOT reps said that the porkchop design can’t be changed as part of the in-house work that the DOT is doing, but that the agency was looking to do a capital project that would build a better southbound connection onto Centre Street and Park Row.

Reaction from the CB1 Transportation Committee was mostly positive, though the DOT seemed unprepared for meeting attendees asking for more room for cyclists both on the bridge and especially coming off the bridge. Specifically on the question of a 10-foot wide parking lane on Centre Street, a DOT representative said the agency would stick with the press parking next to City Hall Park, because removing it was a futile gesture in the fallen world in which we live.

“We’ll probably have something like ‘No Standing’ at the corner, just to keep it clear [for buses], but it will most likely be parked up,” said the rep, Patrick Kennedy when asked about removing the parking on Centre to allow for a second travel lane. “We’re trying to keep that as clear as possible so the bus that’s turning from chambers onto soutbound Centre doesn’t get wedged in the turn. If we clear out one type of parking, typically something’s going to stay illegally at that location.”

Meeting attendees also pressed the agency on what was going to happen about the lack of protected bike lanes in the immediate vicinity of the bridge. Right now, cyclists heading to the bridge in Manhattan have no protected lanes beyond a short approach. The DOT said that it will come back with bike lane options in the coming months, in a different presentation to CB1.

“We’re cooking up a proposal to continue the protected bike lane treatments for cyclists headed north,” said DOT Manhattan Deputy Borough Commissioner Jennifer Sta. Ines. “There’s still work to do on those proposals, so our plan is to return to the committee in a couple of months to present on those designs.”

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