path or fail

Pol Prods DOT for Separate Walk/Bike Lanes on Queensboro Bridge

Cyclists and pedestrians share a narrow path on the 59th Street Bridge in late April.
Cyclists and pedestrians share a narrow path on the 59th Street Bridge in late April. Photo: Ben Fractenberg/THE CITY

A Queens lawmaker is hopping on the push to give cyclists and pedestrians separate paths on each side of the Queensboro Bridge.

Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Queens) said he’s urging the city’s Department of Transportation to create the paths while doing other repairs on the bridge — instead of having cyclists and pedestrians continue to share the north side of the bridge’s outer roadway.

“It’s dangerous,” said Van Bramer, who wants to be the next borough president. “And the time to act when you have a dangerous situation is before someone gets killed or seriously injured.”

His call comes after THE CITY last week highlighted the sometimes cramped conditions on the Queensboro Bridge’s shared bike-and-pedestrian path, which is about 12 feet wide and increasingly popular.

“Cyclists will zip by you. There’s tourists walking side to side not paying attention,” said Michael Phillips, 53, who pedals his bike daily from his home in Astoria to his job in Midtown. “It can get crazy up there.”

Cycling has surged citywide and on the Queensboro Bridge, which in 2017 had more than 5,400 bikes cross the span daily, according to the DOT. That’s a 35% jump from five years earlier, according to agency figures — the biggest increase among the four East River bridges.

Advocates from Bike New York and Transportation Alternatives are pressing the city to turn the bridge’s south outer roadway, which is now limited to vehicles, into a pedestrian-only path. The DOT says it will need that section of the bridge for “vehicle diversions” during a multi-year renovation along the span.

No room for error.
No room for error. Photo: Ben Fractenberg/THE CITY

An agency spokesperson said the agency will keep evaluating what modifications would be needed to turn the south outer roadway into a pedestrian path, while limiting the north outer roadway to cyclists.

If found to be “feasible,” the spokesperson said, that conversion would be timed to coincide with the end of the $337 million project for repairs to the bridge’s upper roadway and steel. Van Bramer said that the DOT should be planning now, not later.

“What we can and will do is make a very strong case that this is about safety,” he said. “There are literally lives at risk if continue down this same pathway.”

The Queensboro Bridge project is supposed to wrap up by the fall of 2022.

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