No more waiting! Upper East Side lawmaker presses city to turn Queensboro Bridge outer roadway into a walkway

The Ed Koch-Queensboro Bridge (Photo via Getty Images)

BY ALEJANDRA O’CONNELL-DOMENECH | Lawmakers from both sides of the East River want the city to make part of the Ed Koch-Queensboro Bridge a walkway solely for pedestrians.

Manhattan Councilman Ben Kallos along with Queens City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer and state Senator Michael Gianaris called on the Department of Transportation to not stall any longer and turn the Queensboro Bridge’s South (Queens-bound) Outer Roadway into a walkway.

“I don’t think we need to wait, I think we need to get it done before congestion pricing,” said Kallos at a press conference held the South Outer Roadway’s entrance at 59th Street. He was joined by Van Bramer and Gianaris, along with a crowd of activists from Transportation Alternatives and Bike NY.

Currently, people crossing the bridge by foot in both directions have to share a narrow pathway on the North Outer Roadway with cyclists crossing the bridge also traveling in both directions.

The south outer roadway of the Ed Koch-Queensboro Bridge (Photo via Google Maps)

The DOT is currently studying the impacts of turning the South Outer Roadway in a pedestrian-only space, but the agency considers the roadway to be essential for vehicle diversions during the reconstruction of the bridge’s upper roadway.

“If found to be feasible, this conversion could be timed to coincide with the completion of the construction work,” said a DOT spokesperson.

But Kallos refused to believe that waiting was the only option for the DOT.

“I want to see the data why they need to make it more dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists for any longer,” said Kallos.

Van Bramer also didn’t believe DOT’s excuse.

“We know the problem, we know the solution, we just have to summon the courage to do it,” he said.

According to DOT data, 5,400 bicyclists crossed the Queensboro Bridge per day in 2017, 35 percent more than five years earlier. Kallos added that with the implementation of Congestion pricing next year, that number of people crossing the bridge by foot or by bike was only going to increase.