January/February 1998, p.6

City Slides on Queensboro Bridge

Are we ever to be rid of this thing? Read the latest news about this issue.

In a shameful twist, the DOT is backpedaling on its commitment to 24 hour bicycle and pedestrian use of the Queensboro Bridge. After months of assurances that the Queensboro's North Outer Roadway would host a permanent bicycle/pedestrian path, DOT representatives indicate that the agency "doesn't know" whether the path will ultimately be on the north or south outer roadway. And the DOT press office said the agency would not commit to operating the lane on a 24-hour basis.

Bicycle and pedestrian traffic will be shifted to the North Outer Roadway in June 1998, when its construction is complete, but the permanent path may assume its original position once South Outer Roadway work is completed in fall 1999. A DOT consultant will study the safety, traffic impact and cost benefits of three lane-path variations:

The North Outer Roadway, as presently constructed, would dump cyclists and walkers mid-block on 60th Street, forcing them to navigate exiting bridge traffic to reach 2nd Ave, or go instead to 1st Ave.

There was talk that the North Outer Roadway would include a Manhattan-side ramp carrying peds and cyclists safely to 2nd Ave., but such a ramp will not be included in the Roadway when it opens this June. Meanwhile, according to current plans, the South Outer Roadway reconstruction will leave cyclists mid-block on 59th Street, with no access to 2nd Ave.

This ninth-inning waffling means the DOT will decide where to put cyclists once construction is done, after it's too late to build the lane according to cyclists' and pedestrians' needs. Moreover, by refusing to commit to 24-hour use by bicyclists and walkers, the DOT leaves itself a loophole to deny non-polluting bridge users full-time access whenever it cares to.

The city has a history of shafting bicyclists and pedestrians to maximize vehicle throughput on the Queensboro. Urge Deputy Mayor Rudy Washington not to let this happen again. Use the enclosed postcard to demand a full-time lane solely for use by cyclists and pedestrians, with no slip merges from vehicle lanes to allow easy and capricious conversions to motor vehicle use. Safe, convenient access from the ramp to 1st and 2nd Avenues in Manhattan is a must.