Mayor to sign off on opening Queensboro Bridge outer roadway for pedestrians

New York car traffic
The city will be dedicating the outer roadway of the Ed Koch-Queensboro Bridge for bicycles.
Photo via Getty Images

Mayor Bill de Blasio will be opening sections of roadway on the Brooklyn Bridge and the Queensboro Bridge, which will be announced in his State of the City address later on Thursday.

Advocates have long pressured the de Blasio administration to pedestrianize the south outer roadway of the Queensboro Bridge, with the Department of Transportation coming back to them with the excuse that the fences are too low to allow foot or cycling traffic.

Pedestrians and cyclist have been forced to share space on the north outer roadway while the same cramped conditions have been augmented by tourists on the Brooklyn Bridge.

“Now, it’s time to bring them into the 21st century and embrace the future with a radical new plan,” De Blasio’s prepared remarks will say according to a City Hall spokesperson. “On the Brooklyn Bridge, we will ban cars from the innermost lane of the Manhattan-bound side to transform it into a two-way protected bike lane and turn the existing shared promenade space into a space just for pedestrians. On the Queensboro Bridge, we will begin construction this year to convert the north outer roadway into a two-way bike-only lane and convert the south outer roadway to a two-way pedestrians-only lane.”

On the Brooklyn Bridge, the inner most of the three Manhattan-bound lanes will be converted for cycling use, leaving two lanes for cars. This will happen by the end of 2020.

The time to complete the conversion on the Queensboro Bridge side will be slightly longer, according to the mayor’s office, due to unrelated construction. The south outer roadway will go to pedestrians while cyclists will have the run of the north outer roadway.

“The mayor has agreed to open up the outer roadway of the Queensboro Bridge for cyclists, which is something I’ve been fighting for for years, and Councilman [Ben] Kallos joined me in that effort because the bridge spans our two districts,” Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said during Thursday’s stated City Council meeting.

Van Bramer and Kallos offered to front the money needed to replace the fence in order to move this initiative forward over the summer when the city was struggling for funds.