Summer 2002, p.12

Cycling News

Cars go straight, bikes are forced to turn. What gives?Bridge Access Safety Crisis Continues as the DOT Fails to Fix 6 of 8 Entrances

Biking and walking to and from the city's four East River bridges can be scary, dangerous and confusing. The big bridges carry an enormous amount of traffic and the Department of Transportation is under tremendous pressure to move cars in and out of Manhattan as quickly as possible. This means that any changes that have the potential to reduce traffic capacity near the bridges are automatically rejected by the DOT traffic engineers. In other words, the safety of cyclists and pedestrians using the bridges is less important to the DOT than moving cars.

This is wrong and the DOT can and should do better. After all, the DOT has already significantly improved cycling and pedestrian access to the Manhattan side of the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges using new signage, signal timing, bike lanes, crosswalks and a modestly priced reconstruction of a traffic island. Unfortunately, despite numerous written requests and meetings with T.A., the DOT has no plans to make improvements to the other six bridge entrances, the worst of which are the Brooklyn side of the Manhattan Bridge and the Manhattan side of the Queensboro Bridge.

The DOT should convene a taskforce of bicycle, pedestrian, bridge and traffic planners and engineers to work on making the popular routes to the bridges safe and easy to use. Some of the entrances to the paths may require capital investments, which is all the more reason that the proposed DOT bridge taskforce should start making plans and funding requests now. Commissioner Weinshall, please do something to help bicyclists and pedestrians get safely to and from the East River bridges-now.

Write to:
Iris Weinshall
Commissioner, NYC DOT
40 Worth Street
NYC 10013

Make Bridge Access Safer!

Manhattan Bridge (Brooklyn side)

  • Install "caution: cyclists" signs on the bridge off-ramp and on Jay Street to alert motorists.
  • Install bollards as a median between the northbound lane of Jay Street and the lane of traffic exiting the Manhattan Bridge.
  • Install a crosswalk across Jay Street from the Manhattan Bridge to High Street.
  • Bonus! Investigate closing the Jay Street off- ramp to motor vehicles and using the existing Concord Street exit, which connects with Jay Street.

Read the latest news on this subject.

Queensboro Bridge (Manhattan side)

  • Give cyclists and pedestrians safe access to "No Name" Street and 2nd Avenue, the same convenience offered to motorists exiting the bridge. Bike counts confirm that over 75% of the cyclists and pedestrians using the Queensboro Bridge come from or go to points west of the bridge. Do not force them east to 1st Avenue.
  • Install crosswalks from the foot of the bridge path to the northeast corner of 60th and "No Name" Street and along the north side of the 60th Street, across "No Name" Street.
  • Install "Caution: Cyclists" signs on the bridge off-ramp and on 60th Street to alert motorists.

Read the latest news on this subject.

Williamsburg Bridge

  • Install crosswalks from the north and south sides of Delancey Street to the median at Clinton, Suffolk and Norfolk Streets (Manhattan side).
  • Install "Caution: Cyclists" signs on Delancey Street to alert motorists (Manhattan side).
  • Maintain two way bicycle traffic on South 5th Street in Brooklyn between Kent and South 5th Place.

Read the latest news on this subject.

Brooklyn Bridge

  • Convene the Bridge Access Taskforce to study the intersection of Tillary and Adams Streets in Brooklyn and make a request
    for federal funding to reconstruct the
  • Add additional pedestrian crossing time to allow people to safely cross Tillary and Adams Streets in Brooklyn.
  • Create a safe and convenient connection to and from lower Manhattan and the East River Greenway using signage.

Read the latest news on this subject.

Note: If the DOT does not like these recommendations, then it should use creativity and initiative to develop its own plans for safe bridge access.

Shore Park Disaster Averted

In May, T.A. protested the DOT's plan to widen an exit ramp of the Shore Parkway and create a "free" right turn lane, allowing cars going to the Caesar's Bay Bazaar shopping mall to turn continuously across the Bay Parkway entrance to the Shore Parkway Greenway, putting thousands of path users in danger each day.

Write to Commissioner Iris Weinshall and urge the DOT to work with the Parks Department to ensure safe human access to the Shore Parkway Greenway at Bay Parkway.