Spring 2002, p.4

Bridge Paths Caged

Read the latest news on this issue.

For the first time in 40 years, all of the City's East River Bridges are open to cyclists and pedestrians. Unfortunately, the DOT Bureau of Bridges has installed chain link fences on all of the bridges' bicycle and pedestrian paths. The City cites safety concerns over objects being thrown or falling from the bridge paths, but it has not produced any body of evidence showing that this is an ongoing problem. In decades of use, no cyclist or pedestrian has ever accidentally fallen off the bridges. Chain link fences make cyclists feel trapped and thereby discourage them from using the hard-won and beautiful bridge paths. T.A. calls on the DOT to remove the chain link fencing on the Queensboro and Manhattan Bridges and to not install fencing on the Williamsburg Bridge's new twin paths or on the Brooklyn Bridge.

The DOT Bureau of Bridges installed an oppressive seven-foot high chain link fence on the Queensboro Bridge earlier this year. The DOT needs to remove the path's jail-like chain link fence in order to restore the dignity of cyclists and pedestrians who use it.

The path on the Manhattan Bridge has chain link fencing that hides its handmade four foot fence and obscures the view of its free neighbor, the Brooklyn Bridge. T.A. asks the DOT to remove this chain link.

By the end of this year, the Williamsburg Bridge will have new twin bicycle and pedestrian paths. Seven foot high fences on the Williamsburg Bridge's new paths will not only imprison path users, but they will also obscure the line of sight between them, isolating the paths and making it difficult to spot trouble from across the bridge. T.A. urges the City not to install unnecessary fencing on the new paths.

The Brooklyn Bridge's bicycle and pedestrian path overlooks its roadway, yet there are no chain link fences on its path. The path's four foot high fence is safe, and makes walking and cycling on the path a breathtaking experience. However, it may not last for long. The City plans to install chain link fences when it rehabilitates the Bridge's promenade.

All of the East River Bridges are official landmarks. The NYC Landmarks Commission protects them from inappropriate changes, and the Commission must approve any alteration, reconstruction or new construction affecting them-including the addition of chain link fences.

Write to:
Sherida E. Paulsen
Chair, Landmarks Preservation Commission
1 Centre Street, 9th Floor North
NYC 10007