Sept. 28, 2020 By Allie Griffin
Cyclists and pedestrians took over the south outer roadway of the Queensboro Bridge Sunday to demand that it be converted from a car lane into a pedestrian pathway.
Bike advocates and several elected officials are calling on the Department of Transportation (DOT) to convert the lane into a pedestrian-only pathway and make the current shared pedestrian and cyclist pathway on the north outer roadway into a bicycle-only path.
Transportation advocacy groups — such as Transportation Alternatives and Bike New York — have been calling for the changes for years, but a recent uptick in bicycle use across New York City during the pandemic has made their demands more urgent.
They say the current pathway is too narrow to be safely shared by pedestrians and cyclists–who walk and bike in both directions.
Several elected officials joined bike advocates at the rally Sunday, including City Council Members Ben Kallos and Jimmy Van Bramer, State Sens. Mike Gianaris and Jessica Ramos and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer.
“More people are cycling than ever before,” Ramos said at the rally. “That means that our streets and our bridges need to keep us safe with the infrastructure that is necessary to keep us safe. The same way that streets are for people and not cars, bridges are for people.”
Big turnout for today’s #MoreSpaceQBB rally on 59th St, including @JimmyVanBramer @SenGianaris @jessicaramos @BenKallos @galeabrewer @TransAlt ! pic.twitter.com/p5S1JGEswJ
— Bike New York (@bikenewyork) September 27, 2020
Kallos and Van Bramer, who both represent districts that flank the Queensboro Bridge, have even pledged discretionary funds to support the roadway conversion along the bridge.
The DOT is in favor of converting the south outer roadway, but a department spokesperson said it cannot be done as soon as the rally-goers would like.
The department must complete major safety upgrades and repairs to the bridge before it can convert the roadway from vehicle usage to pedestrian usage, according to the spokesperson.
“We couldn’t agree more: adding bike and pedestrian capacity to our bridges is a great idea,” the spokesperson said. “We’re completing urgent safety upgrades to the Queensboro Bridge, a 100+ year old structure, and we need extra lane capacity to get it done.”
The repairs aren’t expected to be completed until 2022 and the city’s budget crisis due to the coronavirus shutdowns adds another obstacle to the lane conversion project.
“We also have to evaluate every project in the context of our historic budget crisis,” the DOT spokesperson said. “But conversations are ongoing on moving this project forward, and we’re grateful for the community’s enthusiasm for it.”
We need to demand getting our streets back. Starting with Shore Blvd. These bike riders/hipsters feel as though they are entitled to bike lanes everywhere. Bike lanes that are not even used, yet they want more. For starters the 59th street bridge already has a bike lane, so use it. Secondly, if you want to make demands, start paying like drivers do with insurance, $9.00 tolls, meters, reg. taxs, inspections, . Additionally, learn to obey every rule in the NYS VTL, and Traffic Regulations, you are all supposed to obey the rules of the road, just like motored vehicles. Yet, none of you obey the rules, not one of you even when you have your children in carriages behind you. You are all reckless, and you all violate all the rules of the road, you don’t even stop for the red light bike lights, and you certainly, don’t yield to pedestrians. You’re all just lucky that we have weak, compromised, elected officials, who allow you people to run rampant. That will change soon enough.
No!!! Bicyclists don’t have to pay for insurance, inspections, gas (taxes included in the amount), licenses, parking meters, get ticketed for going through red lights or stop signs and criss cross in and out of traffic against the light not giving a dam about people crossing the street with the light. As a driver and a walker, the 2 wheelers can to he**.