City officials christened a brand new, two-way protected bike lane in the roadbed of the Brooklyn Bridge, which they hope will ease crowding on the bridge’s tourist-heavy promenade.
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the new eight-foot bike lane in January promising a “beautiful and radical reimagining of a New York City icon” that was so popular before the COVID-19 pandemic, it often overflowed with people on busy weekend days.
“This isn’t just a great day for cyclists, but its also a great day for pedestrians,” Transportation Commissioner Hank Gutman said during an official ribbon cutting on Tuesday afternoon. “Those who have tried to share the boardwalk on Brooklyn Bridge know … it’s a difficult task, and it wasn’t safe for anybody.”
The eight-foot-wide, two-way lane replaced the innermost Manhattan-bound vehicle lane. Cyclists can access the lane via new protected lanes on Centre Street in Manhattan and the bridge access road on Adams Street in Brooklyn.
The lane arrives as urban cycling has surged in New York since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Bike trips over the four East River bridges jumped 50 percent in March 2020 compared to the previous March, and continue to exceed pre-pandemic levels.
Yet cyclists have historically used the Brooklyn Bridge lane sparingly, according to city stats, opting for the Manhattan Bridge further north.
City officials hope moving cyclists to the roadbed will free up space on the promenade.
“I can confirm that there are tourists back in NYC now because biking across the boardwalk today is as perilous as it always is,” Council Member Steve Levin (D-Brooklyn).
DOT also plans to open a new bike lane on the Queensboro Bridge by 2022.
The Queensboro plan would open span’s south outer roadway to pedestrians and make the existing bicycle-pedestrian path on the north outer roadway bicycle-only.