Many New Yorkers were ecstatic when Mayor de Blasio announced earlier this year that the Brooklyn Bridge would finally get its own dedicated bike lane.
Crossing the bridge had become hazardous for pedestrians and bicyclists alike, as the space reserved for both was becoming much too crowded and accidents would often occur. After construction began in late June, the time has finally come for the protected bike lane to be complete — ahead of schedule!
The bike lane opened up to cyclists yesterday evening (Tuesday, Sept. 14). Even in the month before construction began, there were over 60,000 bike crossings per month, and more than 10,000 pedestrian crossings per day in recent years.
The project involved the removal and reconstruction of the innermost Manhattan-bound vehicular lane into a two-way protected bike lane. And now, the existing promenade (that was previously shared by bikers & joggers) will be reserved for pedestrians only.
It was the first major reconfiguration of the bridge — which is landmarked — since 1950 (and that was when trolley tracks were permanently removed!).
It also involved “installing barrier segments, creating a new connecting bike path in Manhattan, including new traffic signal construction, adding protective fencing on the interior of the bridge, and implementing traffic changes to help avoid greater congestion in downtown.”
Overall, it’s part of de Blasio’s plan to add 30 miles of protected bikes to NYC through 2021. Of course the bike lane will offer a safer pathway for cyclists, but it also allows the pedestrian space to be fully devoted to those walking the bridge, which has reached up to 10,000 people daily in the last few years.
“Bridges for the People is a beautiful reimagining of New York City’s most iconic bridge,” said Mayor de Blasio in a press release.
Before the Brooklyn Bridge was last reconfigured in 1950, it carried 400,000 New Yorkers every day—but completely replacing trolleys with car lanes reduced the number of daily bridge users by more than half. By adding new protected bike lanes on the bridge, we will finally begin to re-balance that equation, supporting more sustainable transportation for decades to come.