The south outer roadway of the Ed Koch-Queensboro Bridge was packed with anything but cars on Sunday as hundreds of safe streets activists demonstrated to the city Department of Transportation the aching need to give cyclists and pedestrians more space.
Of ten lanes total, the bridge reserves nine of them for cars despite the tight pathway for any other form of transportation being packed with users, something that has been exacerbated by the a 57% spike cycling and 40% – according to Transportation Alternatives – on the bridge alone this year due to the pandemic forcing New Yorkers to pick a different way to get around as subways and buses have given the impression of being unsafe.
Jon Orcutt, of Bike New York, told amNewYork Metro that the city was long overdue in facilitating its own encouragement of cycling and the need for extra space on the Queensboro Bridge needed more not than ever since New Yorkers have been taking the government up on that advice.
“We need the city to catch up with us,” Orcutt said. “The city has said for years, we want more New Yorkers on bikes. There are consequences to that, now we have a bike capacity problem on the bridge. The city should respond, the policy is working, more people are using bikes… What’s pulled everyone out on bikes this year has been more space on streets and so bridge is incredibly timely.”
But the city believes there to be one major obstacle to taking cars off the south outer roadway; fences.
DOT has said the barriers on this section of the bridge do not meet the eight-foot standard for pedestrian and cyclist safety, and the cash strapped agency just can eat the cost at this time.
Another problem? DOT says that as long as construction is forcing some traffic to be diverted from the upper roadway, they will need to prioritize as much space as they can for motorists. This work is scheduled to wrap in the fall of 2022, according to DOT.
Councilmembers Ben Kallos and Jimmy Van Bramer have both agreed to use discretionary funds to DOT so the fences can be extended from the current four feet while proposals to convert the roadway have pass community boards on each side of the Queensborough Bridge.