March/April 1996, p.6

Yet Another Flawed Plan for Queensboro Bridge
Proposed Manhattan Approach Will Shaft Cyclists and Pedestrians ...Again

Read the latest news about this issue.

The City DOT's indifference and outright hostility toward bicycling and walking has resurfaced in its latest plan for the Queensboro Bridge's Manhattan entrance. This most recent outrage follows a six-year Transportation Alternatives campaign to force City engineers to keep the bridge open 24 hours a day and ensure a safe entrance when bridge reconstruction is completed.

In January, the DOT announced an ill-conceived plan for the Manhattan entrance, one that will inconvenience and endanger cyclists and pedestrians. The bridge's bike/pedestrian path starts at 59th Street near Second Avenue, Under the DOT plan, riders from Queens heading downtown via Second Avenue would dismount their bikes, walk east to First Avenue, cross the street, then walk west to Second Avenue. T.A.'s plan-first presented to DOT two years ago-calls for a traffic light at the foot of the bridge and safe, direct access to Second Avenue (where the majority of cyclists and walkers go).

Lowlights of the Queensboro Bridge entrance plan:

  • No direct route to Second Avenue from the bridge;
  • No traffic signal giving bikes and peds the right of way over cars, ever;
  • A narrow, 4 1/2 foot-wide path for two-way bike traffic on the steep quarter-mile bridge approach.

There's still time to make a difference.

Write To:

Deputy Mayor Fran Reiter
One Centre Street
Room 2358 South
New York, NY 10007.

The Struggle: Bikes and Pedestrians on the Queensboro Bridge

1978: T.A. Bike Rally on the bridge wins a lane for cyclists and pedestrians.

June 1990: Long-term bridge rebuilding begins. To compensate for lost car lanes, the City DOT allows cars on the bicycle/pedestrian path week days between 3 pm and 7 pm. Bridge bike traffic drops by 46%. T.A. begins weekly traffic-blocking protests to keep the lane open to non-motorized users 24 hours a day.

March 1991: Six T.A. demonstrators are arrested for blocking traffic on the roadway. The "QB6" are acquitted of disorderly conduct charges; a judge rules their actions were just and necessary given the grave and imminent danger from car-caused air pollution.

January 1993: DOT proposes eliminating 1993 bike/pedestrian access until bridge construction is completed. Plan is scrapped following public outcry.

July 1993: DOT bans cars full-time from the South Outer Roadway. T.A. begins to push for a good final design for the bridge entrance.

November 1993: DOT submits severely flawed final design plan for Manhattan entrance, which would force cyclists to dismount before getting on or off the bridge.

March 1994: TA. outlines better Manhattan-side entrance during "Teach-in" at the foot of the bridge.

April 1994: Flood of letters prompts DOT to eliminate dismount requirement in final design plans. Still no provision made for cyclists and walkers going to Second avenue. Wheel-eating expansion joints on the bridge span lead to typical DOT non-solution "Bikers Dismount" signs are erected to protect city from lawsuits.

January 1996: Citing "potential adverse traffic impact," DOT announces intention to install dangerous and inconvenient entrance to the bridge.