Brooklyn, Queensboro bridges will lose lane of traffic for bicycles

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Friday, January 29, 2021
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CeFaan Kim has more on a major change that will allow bicyclists and pedestrians to have their own lanes on two major bridges.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Bicyclists who currently share space with pedestrians as they try to get across New York City's Brooklyn and Queensboro bridges would get their own lanes across those spans, according to a plan from Mayor Bill de Blasio.

De Blasio announced the "Bridges for the People" project on Thursday evening, as part of his final State of the City speech.

Cycling no longer seems to be a seasonal mode of transportation and soon those cyclists will have a lot more space.

On the Brooklyn Bridge, the innermost car lane in the Manhattan-bound direction would be turned into a two-way bicycle lane, and the promenade space that bicyclists and pedestrians currently use together would be given over solely to those on foot.

While the promenade has marking delineating bicycle and pedestrian lanes, the increasing use of it by both walkers and cyclists had made it difficult, at times dangerous.

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At the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge between Queens and Manhattan, de Blasio said construction would start this year on making the outer roadway on the north side into a two-way bicycle lane, while the outer roadway on the south side would be only for pedestrians.

"It's so crucial right now, we're in the middle of a pandemic and a lot of people are scared to take the train," said Juan Restrepo with Transportation Alternatives. "They can't afford to take a car. We're giving options for people to get around the city."

Bicycle advocates have been fighting for these changes for years. During the pandemic, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of New Yorkers who have opted for two wheels.

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer had championed the cause for five years.

"This news is a huge win for all of us who've been fighting for the last five years not only to save lives, but for a cleaner, greener, and healthier City," Van Bramer said. "Bike lanes are key to a post-COVID new economy, and I will make sure to hold the Mayor to a real timeline. Congratulations to Transportation Alternatives, Council Member Ben Kallos, State Senators Jessica Ramos and Mike Gianaris, and all the activists!"

However, some drivers said they think the plan will cause more vehicular traffic.

"It's ridiculous, what more can you expect from Bill de Blasio than to screw us over one more time," one driver said Thursday.

Bicycling has grown dramatically in popularity, and jumped during the pandemic, and the city has created miles of dedicated roadways.

De Blasio's speech included a number of subjects as well, from pandemic vaccinations and economic recovery to education, policing and climate change.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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