Cycling over the Brooklyn Bridge almost doubled since the city installed a new dedicated bike lane on the span’s roadway, according to new data provided by the Department of Transportation (DOT).
During the new lane’s first full month of operation in October, the DOT counted 4,206 average daily bike crossings over the iconic span, an 88% increase from the 2,239 average daily trips in October 2020.
“We have reclaimed space from cars to make cycling over the Brooklyn Bridge safer and easier, while making the pedestrian experience better than ever – and it has been a great success,” said DOT Commissioner Hank Gutman in a statement. “I couldn’t be more thrilled to see people flock to this critical connection in our bike lane network.”
The city opened the new two-way protected bike lane on the Brooklyn Bridge roadway on Sept. 14, taking the innermost car lane on the Manhattan-bound side while making the formerly-shared wooden walkway above pedestrian-only.
Bike counts already went up by more than half during the first couple of weeks, with a 56% increase in ridership over September of last year, at 3,635 average daily crossings in 2021 versus 2,336 in 2020, according to DOT.
The new lane reversed a years-long trend of declining bike ridership on the Brooklyn Bridge, which saw decreases in both months in 2020 compared to 2019, despite a bike boom across the city during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bike ridership on the Brooklyn Bridge declined by 30% between 2015-2020, while all four DOT-managed East River bridges were up 21% during that time, according to this year’s Cycling in the City report.
However, during the last two months, the other three East River bridges saw ridership declining again after an all-time high in 2020.
The nearby Manhattan Bridge, which serves a similar route from Downtown Brooklyn to Lower Manhattan, was down 11% in daily average ridership in October and 5% lower in September.
But there was still a net gain of cyclists traveling on the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges with 963 combined more daily riders on both connectors in September and 1,218 more in October.
The decrease of bike traffic on the Manhattan Bridge is also in line with a larger slowdown of the 2020 bike boom, which has also led to fewer crossings on the Williamsburg and the Ed Koch-Queensboro bridges.
On the Williamsburg Bridge, daily bike traffic was down 13% in September and 16% in October compared to last year, and two-wheeled traffic on the Ed Koch-Queensboro Bridge was down 11% both months, according to DOT.
The Queensboro is slated to get an upgrade of its own to separate the currently shared bike and pedestrian lane on the north outer lane by banning car traffic from the south outer lane and turning it into a walkway, according to plans first announced by Mayor Bill de Blasio in his January State of the City address.
DOT recently revealed that this revamp will have to wait until late next year for the city to wrap up repairs of the bridge’s upper deck, because the agency is worried about creating more congestion if it takes away a lane from vehicles during construction.