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Wheelin’ and dealin’: City in talks to turn part of Brooklyn Bridge roadway into a bike lane

The Brooklyn Bridge walkway in February. (Photo by Amalia Arms)

The city’s Department of Transportation is in talks with Mayor Bill de Blasio to study turning a roadway on the Brooklyn Bridge into a bike lane, an agency rep told civic gurus Thursday evening.

“DOT is in talks with the mayor’s office and City Hall for conducting a study about the feasibility of a bikeway on the mainline of the Brooklyn Bridge and you may hear about that in the coming weeks,” Emily Riquelme told Community Board 2’s Transportation Committee at a virtual meeting on June 18.

City transportation officials studied expanding the iconic span’s existing shared bike and pedestrian walkway to better accommodate both users, but found that to be unfeasible, said Riquelme, who added that the agency is now looking at moving cyclists onto one of the car lanes of the bridge.

“There was a study done for a pedestrian walkway on the Brooklyn Bridge, the feasibility was unfounded,” the rep said.

The path is regularly jam-packed with people and tourists, and a handful of three-wheeled mini police cars routinely take up at least one of the bridge’s lanes — making it a dangerous squeeze for all involved.

“The situation is a death or serious injury waiting to happen,” said Patrick Killackey, a member of the committee, which unanimously endorsed a symbolic motion in favor of the idea, adding that they would want to make the elevated walkway pedestrian-only.

While they were at it, the civic panel also issued a recommendation to turn at least one of the Manhattan Bridge’s vehicular lanes into a bikeway, while turning the existing bike lane at the crossing’s side into another pedestrian path.

The City Council and urban design non-profit Van Alen Institute in February launched a design competition to revamp the bridge’s walkway, which is split in half between cyclists and pedestrians.

Finalists for that competition were supposed to be announced mid-May, but a spokesman for Council Speaker Corey Johnson’s office told Brooklyn Paper at the time that the schedule had been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Finalists will be announced soon, though this pandemic may alter the schedule by a couple weeks,” Juan Soto said in a statement in May.

It is unclear whether that competition will still move ahead in light of DOT’s newly-revealed discussions.

Neither de Blasio’s nor Johnson’s press offices immediately provided comment.

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