Oct. 14, 2016 By Hannah Wulkan
The Queensboro Bridge is getting overcrowded and dangerous for bicyclists, according to commuters and activists.
Transportation Alternatives, a bicycle and pedestrian advocacy group, launched a petition recently to bring a designated bike lane to the Queensboro Bridge, in the hopes of making the commute across the East River safer and more enjoyable for both cyclists and pedestrians.
The petition pushes for the city to turn the South Outer Roadway in to a designated bike lane, rather than a third car lane from Manhattan to Queens as it is now.
“Unlike some of the other East River bridges, this one has a shared path for bikes and pedestrians, which makes it tight during rush hour, and it’s an especially aggravated issue right now because of construction on the bridge,” said Jaime Moncayo, an activist with Transportation Alternatives. “We are really just trying to bring the Queensboro Bridge up to parity with other bridges across the East River.”
The argument in favor of the bike path is essentially to reduce the crowding of pedestrians and bikes on a single path, and the petition explains that the SOR used to be a bike path before it was converted in to a third lane, which is closed at night as it is.
“Overcrowding on the extremely narrow ped/bike path leads to dangerous pedestrian-bike conflicts and is entirely inconsistent with the official NYC goal to ‘accelerate the growth of safe cycling by providing a system of bicycle routes that traverse and connect all five boroughs,’” reads the petition. “Particularly unfair is that continued nighttime closures of the ped/bike path create a hardship for Queens residents who rely on walking or biking to get to and from night jobs in Manhattan, and vice versa.”
According to Department of Transportation statistics, the Queensboro Bridge has seen a 27 percent growth in bike traffic between 2010 and 2015, and has more than 4,500 bike commuters in an average 24-hour period.
The DOT has not yet officially responded to the petition, but according to a spokesperson, it studied the possibility of turning the SOR in to a bike lane and “found there are many challenges that comes with permanently closing the roadway to vehicles.”
The current issues with bike congestion are exacerbated by ongoing Con Edison construction on the bridge, which closes the pedestrian and bike path from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. each night. Though Con Edison provides shuttles across the bridge during those hours, many cyclists have complained of long delays, according to Moncayo, who said that he has spoken to people who experienced delays up to 45 minutes crossing the bridge.
When asked about the delays, a Con Edison representative said “We added an extra bus and truck after reviewing anticipated rider usage with the city. We will continue to assess shuttle needs in accordance with the NYCDOT permit stipulation.”
He added that the construction is supposed to be mostly completed by December.
The petition launched online earlier this month, though Moncayo said that advocates began collecting signatures on paper in April. So far the online petition has garnered 227 signatures towards the goal of 500.
The signatures will be delivered to Council Members Jimmy Van Bramer and Ben Kallos, as well as Queens Community Board 2 and Manhattan Community Board 6.
To view the petition, visit https://campaigns.transalt.org/petition/create-exclusive-bikelane-queensborough-bridge.
NYPD needs to post some cops on this bridge every now and then to ticket reckless cyclists who have made this bridge practically un-walkable.
At last, people who agree that bicyclists are downright dangerous. Especially on the Manhattan approach to the 59th street bridge. Bikes come off the bridge and head downtown on 1st avenue. Plus, the ones heading onto the bridge and the ones just heading south on 1st in the bike lanes. It’s utter chaos. That intersection should have police giving out tickets to all of them. And of course, the ones who think that red lights are a suggestion.
It’s actually legal to head downtown on 1st avenue for one block when exiting the bridge (to continue on bike lane on 59th st). Pedestrians create chaos by standing in the bike lane when they don’t have the light (instead of remaining on the sidewalk). If cyclists are menacing pedestrians when pedestrians have the cross walk, that IS wrong.
i agree, bicyclists are freakin out of control and theyll run you over if you dont constantly look over your shoulder. bunch of arrogant bastards who think the world owes them space just because they wear fluorescent cycling gear made in europe. they complain about cars but they treat pedestrians the same.
oh and by the way, since were on the subject, there is a sign near the end of the bridge that says “cyclists must dismount” – are you all illiterate?
Sounds like you are in favor of separate bike and pedestrian lanes on the Queensboro – please sign the petition
Anonymous makes several good points – people on bikes believe they have an unimpeded right to the roadway without any inconvenience or hindrance, little items like the need to brake, to slow down, to stop according to traffic conditions. It’s a serious accident or a fatality waiting to happen. Bikers regard the NOR as their private racetrack and this is unlikely to change unless there is a permanent police control and a posted posted speed restriction.
Preferably, if the SOR were to become available again, it should be pedestrians only as it’s more scenic, views of Downtown, UN Building, etc. Speeding bikers are not scenery oriented.
hey moron idiot bikers get off your bike for 30 seconds and walk around the pedestrians…no more excuses from you ever again….
i drive and we need more lanes to ease traffic flow i remember when there was no bike lanes and used the side lane to 60st st. and the FDR because i lived on crescent st for awhile
Over the years I have witnessed numerous accidents on the bridges. Mostly on the Williamsburg. Every single accident was caused by overly aggressive cycling or alcohol or drugs. One time the woman I stopped to help was incoherent. Another time, two cyclists were trying to pass each other dangerously and one went down hard after contact. The other cyclist looked and took off. I always stop to help but am in the minority. Most people just go around accidents. It is really, really dangerous out there and then on top of it, I think many cyclists can be pretty big pricks.
People need to have respect for each other and things would be better on the bridge.
Please permit our bicyclist to have a bicycle lane without other traffic around them.
It causes damage for both parties if there is not a solution soon.
Thank you for your time and consideration in this matter.
Why would it cause damage for both parties if there is not a solution soon? Behind the polite words it sounds like a threat.
One solution would be do as they do in Copenhagen: be courteous and follow the rules. Why wouldn’t that suffice?
As someone who uses that bike lane a couple of times a week, I think the best way to improve safety on that outer roadway would be to keep out the scooters and bike delivery guys who zip up and down the roadway on their electric of even gas powered vehicles. They go way too fast and go way to close to the pedestrians. If your vehicle goes 25-30mph, you should be on the motor vehicle roadway.
Also, some common courtesy should be displayed by some of the bike riders who act like they have no brakes. Just because there is a long downhill stretch does not mean you are supposed to go as fast as you can (oftentimes without even holding onto their handlebars).
Maybe open the south side lane for just motorized bikes and people on regular bikes who think they are in some kind of race?
If the above can be taken care of, there is plenty of room for everybody – even room for some growth.
motorized bikes, motorized scooters, mopeds or motorized skateboards should not be allowed in the bike lanes. eventually we will need another lane for them. they are a fast growing commuter group even if they are annoying.
E-bikes are more than annoying, they are uninsured motor vehicles. They should be impounded and the operator ticketed anytime they are used on public streets.
Bikes seem to engender arrogance in their riders. No other mode of transport expects a completely clear completely open path before them. Cars and walkers stop constantly during their journeys. But bicyclists expect absolutely everything to conform to their desire to go at full speed from beginning to end. What is wrong with these people? Get off and walk it when it is too crowded for heaven’s sake. That is what “sharing the road” means.
Very, very true. I recently biked in Copenhagen, Denmark. There everybody follows the rules and everyone shows common courtesy to both bikers and pedestrians. As a result, the bike experience is much safer for both bikers and pedestrians.
This is the complete opposite of the 59th St. Bridge, where bikers routinely cross the divide when going downhill. Not only a lot of bikers not break while going downhill, they are actively pedaling and swerving while descending. This is extremely dangerous to other bikers and pedestrians (particularly with children or pets).
If they don’t put a dedicated bike lane, there should at least be a cop there to enforce what rules are in place.
In Poland, everyone needs to get a cycling license and has to pass a test just like drivers do.
I’ve walked and bike across the Queens Bridge many times and every time there are some bicyclists that are just simply reckless and act as though all should get out of their way. If others would respect basic rules of safety and courtesies to others the existing lane as is would be fine. The way some bicyclists fly down the ramps, right were both pedestrians and other bikers enter/exit/cross, it’s amazing no one has been seriously hurt.
I come across the bike lane almost every night. Last night I had to take the tram to Roosevelt Island due to the bridge construction which used to start at 10:00 but now starts at 9:00. When they do close the bridge for construction, cyclists often just use the closed section anyways. It just sits there unused at night. As for accidents, I have witnessed one bad bike crash on the 59th street bridge but on the Williamsburg Bridge I have witnessed numerous accidents even though they have a dedicated bike lane.
NYC should have a dedicate lane straight to the psych ward for these cyclists because most never follow the rules and think they can belligerently move through traffic. Now they want a lane that will congest more traffic? Get lost psycholists! LOL you heard it first here not cyclists but PSYCHOLISTS!
Pedestrians are oblivious. They step into the street, cross against the light, and so forth. Not only are they a danger to themselves, but they are a danger to anyone on a bicycle.
I respect the rules of the road, and I’ve nearly gotten killed a bunch of times because of oblivious pedestrians who are totally clueless.
Pedestrians are oblivious? Harry want drugs are you on? Bicyclists need to follow the same rules of the road as cars. Which no does. DO ONE.
I used to walk over the bridge but stopped because of the cyclists. They’re a menace.
Sign the petition for separate bike and pedestrian lanes! Then you can walk again without feeling threatened.