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HomeNew York City / NYCCrossing the Brooklyn Bridge Without Tourists? Great! Without Bicyclists? Better!

Crossing the Brooklyn Bridge Without Tourists? Great! Without Bicyclists? Better!

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio: Brooklyn Bridge Promenade to be Open Solely to Pedestrians

A day in May and nearly alone on the Brooklyn Bridge whilst NYC was still being ravaged by the COVID-19 Crisis.

NYC Mayor de Blasio stated that the shared pathways along the Brooklyn and Queensboro Bridges will exist solely for pedestrian use – an announcement which came during his State of the City 2021 earlier this week.

Courtesy of the Mayor’s Office:

“”On the Brooklyn Bridge, we will ban cars from the innermost lane of the Manhattan-bound side to transform it into a two-way protected bike lane and turn the existing shared promenade space into a space just for pedestrians. On the Queensboro Bridge, we will begin construction this year to convert the north outer roadway into a two-way bike-only lane and convert the south outer roadway to a two-way pedestrian-only lane.””

Sharing the Brooklyn Bridge pedestrian has never been easy! If you’re not trying to make your way around groups stopping for photos then you’re dodging bikes speeding in either direction. Sure, you’ll get the occasional warning through a whistle, yell or obscenity but that’s not always been the case.

As a photographer with the need to be alone with one’s subject, I’ve fond memories of crossing the Brooklyn Bridge with nary a soul in sight. Those were times when the weather was too brutal for the average tourist or New Yorker. There were, as well, the instances during the worst of the COVID crisis that I found myself nearly alone on the bridge.

Nearly all the tourists are absent and it’ll continue that way likely for some time. But, what a joy it’d be to finally have the bridge even more to ourselves?

I’ve known of folks who’ve had literal run-ins with speeding bicyclists and it’s a blessing to know that the harm done wasn’t worse than a sprained joint and bruises. Not that it’s acceptable.

But one dangerous encounter took place in 2017 and resulted in the city coughing up $75,000 as a settlement.

It’s no secret that traversing the bridge by foot or peddle can be risky. It’s the biggest reason I’ve avoided it over the past years. Last thing I need is someone crashing into me and my expensive photographic equipment.

Yours truly has always believed something needed to be done. I’ve crossed SF’s Golden Gate Bridge numerous times and admired how one side was restricted to pedestrian use and the other for bicyclists. Try crossing the wrong side with your bike and you’ll find yourself chased down and fined by a cop on two wheels.

Last summer, we crossed the new Mario Cuomo Bridge by foot on the first full day of its opening. With a width of 12 feet shared by pedestrians and bicyclists we found it to be terribly lacking in safe space. Especially considering the many times a group would stop in place to rest or snap photos.

Most of those riding along were traveling at speeds beyond safe measure. By contrast, the Brooklyn Bridge’s width ranges from 10 to 17 feet. Having that much space dedicated to folks wishing to cross the bridge on foot is a godsend – for bicyclists and pedestrians alike.

Separating the traverseways is something we welcome with open arms. Here’s to once again making that crossing with my gear in tow.

On the day following his 2021 State of the City Address the Mayor stated the following during that day’s press briefing:

“We’re opening up some of our iconic bridges to make sure that they become places for bicyclists and for pedestrians in ways they’ve never been before. And they’re safe and they’re inviting. We’re going to create bike boulevards to make it safer for bicyclists and make bicyclists — make this a city that truly becomes more bike-friendly all the time. “

It’s not clear, at the time of this writing, when exactly the above changes will go into effect.

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