Open Thread: Bikes on the Promenade

flickr photo by gak

According to 311, the Brooklyn Heights Promenade is not one of the parks in Brooklyn where bicycling is allowed.  However we see bikes zooming by all the time.  Is the rule against bikes warranted and should it be enforced?

Flickr photo by gak

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  • nabeguy

    It’s a promenade, not a rollenade. Enforce the ban.

  • GHB

    What next? No more public sex on the Promenade benches?

  • Curmudgeon

    There is no valid reason for using a bicycle on the Promenade. Is is a place for relaxation and gentle strolling. They have plenty of places to ride. Allowing bicycles will lead to accidents – no doubt about it!

    Observe how dangerous the Brooklyn Bridge walkway is – most bicycle riders don’t seem to care about pedestrians and will ride as fast as they can whenever they can get away with it. Please! Tourists can’t be expected to know the lay of the land and is it so senseless to see hundreds and hundreds of people scrunched onto one side so that 20 bicycle riders can go unimpeded, travel as fast as they like and put everyone else at risk. I know all riders are not like that, but the exception proves the rule. Let them stay in their newly created lime green street bike paths. I am so tired of the way bike riders feel so entitled to go wherever they please without regard to pedestrians, tourists, cars, traffic lights and just plain common decency. They go through lights, travel on the sidewalk and will run you down in a minute. Allow bikes on the promenade at your peril! KEEP THEM OFF!!!

  • Jen

    There is plenty of signage on the Brooklyn Bridge indicating the bike lane. Bicycle riders can go as fast as they want IN THE BIKE LANE. It only becomes dangerous when pedestrians, tourists or not, stray out of the walking lane.
    The city in general is becoming more bike friendly, which is great, but I do not think bikes should be ridden on the promenade.

  • Troubled Reader

    Most sensible people would agree that, for safety reasons, bikes should not be allowed to be ridden on the Promenade (Esplanade, for the purists), and so it comes as no surprise that bicycle riding is prohibited. The problem we have is with a lack of enforcement. The police seem hardly to care about this, in the same way that they seem not to care about people riding bikes on the sidewalk (I was almost run over by a speeding delivery man on a bicycle the other day as I rounded the corner on the sidewalk in front of my building).

  • Curmudgeon II

    Jen: I walk the bridge daily, and your insistence that bike riders can go as fast as they like is infuriating. There are hundreds of tourists crammed on one side of the walkway, and some of them inevitably cross over to the bike lane. It is irresponsible for bike riders to speed as I see them do. Also, if you are so fixed on what is legal, perhaps you can do something about the bike riders who frequently cross to the pedestrian side. Then there are those who always ignore the signs on the roadway (yes, there are signs) that call for a full stop when nearing the Washington street turnoff, when the pedestrian and bike paths cross. I have never seen a bike rider stop at this point.

  • Bongo

    It’s not bike riding that is the problem, it’s irresponsible bike riding. Not all bike riders speed over the Brooklyn Bridge. As for tourists not knowing the “rules”, there are plenty of signs. Speaking as someone who had a nasty accident on the bridge some years ago, caused by a pedestrian walking backwards into the bike lane, all I can say is that everyone needs to accept their responsibility. Banning activities ends up ruining things for everyone in the end.

    Personally I think there should be a ban on pedestrians walking more than 4 abreast on the Promenade, but then we’d be getting into the absence of pedestrian rules in general, which is a whole other kettle of fish.

  • Curmudgeon

    Sorry Bongo, but the law states that those who operate vehicles (yes, that’s what bikes are) MUST – I will repeat that – MUST yield to pedestrians – period. Nasty thing the law, isn’t it?

    Don’t ride so fast. Simple as that. Then you will be able to stop in time when an evil, stupid, tourist walker strays into your domain. Now you want rules for the way we pedestrians can walk? That’s rich. Rules for the ones who don’t cause the problems. Slow walkers don’t mow down bikes. It is the other way around. Perhaps we should put the bikes in the bridge car lanes. Oh, but then the bike riders might feel as threatened on the roadway as the pedestrians do now on the bridge path!

    SLOW DOWN!!!!

  • Billy Reno

    Can I rollerblade in a Speedo on the Promenade?

  • Bob

    Full Disclosure: avid cyclist. As a 50+ cyclist on the bridge (age not speed) I don’t have the ability to go superfast, but have narrowly averted dozens of accidents by anticipating that most pedestrians have no clue about cyclists. In a world where energy consumption one would think cycling and cyclist would be welcomed as alternate transportation on the Bridge. I use a bell and my voice to keep myself and others safe. (Is it too snarky to mention the GIANT WHITE LINE that defines the walking path from the bike path. I guess it is.)

    On the Promenage i do Ride…at a snails pace to accompany my 7 year old who is just learning the sport. The Promenade offers partial passage to take kids over to Middaugh and then to Cadman Plaza, where sub-year olds have a blast riding the paths. Should we also take on leash length, the aforementioned four abreast, limit “blinding” flash photos, non-Romance languages and other Promenade “transgressions?”

    Most people, by nature, are courteous. Its a few abusers in each situation (cyclists, overreactors, dog walkers, stroller paraders) whose sense of entitlement and lack of respect for the other guy who ruin it. Why single out any one group when its single offenders from each group who cause the problems.

    Lighten up folks.

  • Lupe

    Just as there is a huge white line dividing the BB walkway and signs indicating where pedestrians should walk and bikes ride, there are also clear signs stating the law that bikes should yield to pedestrians. (There are also ones saying bikes should slow down and even dismount at certain points, but I guess bikes can pick and choose which ones matter.)

    But back to the Promenade — bikes are prohibited by park rules and should be enforced as much as any of the other rules. I’ve seen bikers ticketed in Washington Square Park and Union Square, and they ought to be ticketed on the Promenade. If bikers think the rules aren’t warranted, they can complain to 311, the Parks Department, or their favorite politician.

  • Troubled Reader

    Bob, I think the issue here is not whether bicycling is good or bad, but what should be done about people who, despite the prohibition, insist upon bicycling the Promenade, a pedestrian walkway. At this point, I’m sad to say, I think the only thing to do is resign one’s self to the fact that there is no preventing or stopping it. It’s one of those things that we have to put it with . . . like people smoking cigars on park benches or sauntering along the sidewalk talking loudly on cell phones.

  • BKBS

    How people SHOULD behave is one thing; how they actually DO behave is another. Should Bridge rookies be able to figure out that one side is for pedestrians and the other for bikes? Sure. But they don’t always, and I’m not sure that the price to be paid for that mistake is getting mowed down or verbally abused by cyclists taking umbrage because they can’t speed across the Bridge. Common courtesy, folks.

    And I will add my voice to those saying that if cyclists continue to ignore the stop signs at the end Brooklyn end of the bridge; one-way street signs; and traffic lights, they should have little expectation that they will be respected, or safe. If cyclists can’t act in a reliably predictable manner according to transport regulations, they put themselves, pedestrians, and drivers in danger.

  • BklynJace

    No bikes on the Promenade. No sympathy for tourists on the wrong side of the Brooklyn Bridge walkway (there are big pictograms, for Pete’s sake), but also no reason for cyclists to be jerks about it.

    My pet peeve: The state park guys at Fulton Ferry (WTF is that a state park, anyway?) who enforce 10 billion ticky-tack rules because they have absolutely nothing else to do.

  • spm

    I’ve brought this issue to the blog numerous times. We need more signage on the Promenade to let bicyclists know that it is NOT allowed to cycle. We also need enforcement from the police at times when bicyclists are there – like weekends in warm weather months.

    Also, Bob, I don’t care if you’re going at a snail’s pace on your bike – you should not be riding it and you should respect the law and teach your child do so also. No bicycling, no roller-blading and no scooters.

    I’ve been nicely telling people that there is no bicycle riding on the Promenade – some people are fine, get off their bikes and walk, some ignore me and some verbally abuse me.

    My favorite was a guy who yelled at me that he lived in Brooklyn Heights all his life and he always rode his bike. The funny thing was his accent could only come from some small village in Italy – certainly not the heights of Brooklyn!

  • HDEB

    Bicycles are prohibited from the promenade and they should not be there. Anyone riding a bike there (or on the sidewalk) is doing a disservice to other cyclists.

    Having said that, when I ride (in a legal area) I ride FAST. If you cluelessly step in front of me there may be no way to avoid hitting you. I’ve had two major collisions with pedestrians, luckily without any serious injuries. Being oblivious leads to injuries no matter what you are doing. Be aware of your surroundings!

    I believe many of the conflicts mentioned on this thread could be solved with changes to the transportation infrastructure (designated, separate bike lanes like the new one on 9th ave.). The bicycle is the most efficient method of travel and its use is a beautiful thing.

  • JAM

    Agree with SPM – no bikes on the promenade. People who walk and read/look at books, PDAs, cell phones, ipods, cameras etc, should be banned from the bridge (well everywhere, actually)…they are one’s making it most dangerous. When I run on the bridge, I am routinely impeded by people not paying attention to what’s going on around them. And they don’t even have to read – there are pictures to guide them into the correct lane!!

  • Bob

    OK, I agree I shouldn’t be riding on the Promenade. HDEB, I am totally with you.

    But please, oh please, don’t diss my cigars. I always tell the
    people around me I am happy to move if it bothers them. Its a lot
    better than a lot of other things that show up on the Promenade,
    (and here I am dangerously close to offending entitled dog walkers with no-pickup policies and PETA folks who support the rats working the litter baskets).

    But then again, I get a little possessive of my cigar rights cause:
    1) Its still legal.
    2) I am out there almost year round. (Closest thing to a backyard).

    I’ll be out there tonight. Be nice.

  • Rob

    I’ve rarely seen a bike on the Promenade. Isn’t this a big fuss about nothing?

  • CJP

    Nah… Rob. They’re out there on weekends. In their defense most don’t know they shouldn’t be riding. They come from all over New York, see the views from the Promenade, and then cycle the entire length of the promenade. Can’t blame them, I would too if I had a bicycle and didn’t know better.

    There are signs saying “no bikes” but they are few and far between and you actually have to know where to look to find the signs!

    I’ve got a five-year-old and I let him bike on the promenade but I try to do it during “off-peak” hours. Technically I shouldn’t at all for all of the logical reasons banning bikes, discussed at length on here.

    I favor the bike ban on the promenade and think there should be much tougher (non-fines) enforcement with better signage and cops letting people know it isn’t legal or safe.

  • Eric

    I havent had any trouble with bikers on the Promenade.
    On the other hand, Ive seen plenty of bikers with bad and dangerous attitudes on the bridge. Particularly on those few days in recent history when the subways were down and everyone had to walk to work. There were lots of bikers trying to fly through, carrying around their sense of entitlement and screaming obscenities at the pedestrians.
    Also, Bob, English isnt a Romance language.

  • Runner

    I used to like to run on the bridge (not in tourist season though). Even at non-peak hours, there’s no choice but to venture over to use the left-most portion of the bike lane, because of the tourists/pedestrians. Given the number of people who walk versus the number who ride, dividing the path 50/50 is absurd. Plus, people want to take photos and stuff. Cyclists should have to walk their bikes in peak hours, abide by some kind of speed limit on the bridge, or take the manhattan bridge, which is not exactly a far detour if you have some sort of gear-propelled, wheeled transport. (That’s not as good a bridge to run becuse of the smell of outdoor fish markets in summer once you hit the city.)

    On the other hand, I can get up the manhattan-side incline on the brooklyn bridge faster than about half the cyclists doing a middle-distance pace. Passing bikes is fun.

  • Curmudgeon

    Runner, you are absolutely correct – “dividing the path 50/50 is absurd.” There are so many MORE walkers and runners than bike riders that it it patently unfair to allow this self-centered group of selfish riders half of the walkway. Your solution is perfect (someone tell Bloomberg!) bikes should either take the Manhattan bridge dedicated bike path or “walk” their bikes across during peak hours. Walking is better excercise anyway!

  • Mike

    Dividing the path 50/50 is not ‘absurd.’ While there are much fewer cyclists, they need more space to safely pass each other. What is ‘absurd’ is that people (both cyclists and pedestrians) are so inconsiderate as to not be able to peacefully coexist on the bridge. I have run across the bridge and gone into the bike lane many times, all it requires is a quick look forward and a look over your shoulder.

    Runner – I feel you with the fish markets in the summer, I ride my bike across the Manhattan Bridge twice a day, but relegating bikes to the Manhattan Bridge where they have to smell the fish markets doesn’t seem fair to me.

  • Mike

    Back on topic though, bicycling on the promenade is not allowed and should not be allowed.

  • No One Of Consequence

    Obviously the only solution to the bridge path problem is to close it completely.

  • Runner

    Mike — I thought about the distributive justice implications of olfactory Chinatown exposure. But, the incline on the Manhattan bridge is pretty shallow, so bikes should be able to get out of the dead fish zone pretty quickly. In contrast, joggers have a slow descent into nasal torture.

    Truth be told, the tourists are more annoying than cyclists, but they have fewer options, our economy needs their Euros, and you don’t have to worry about blind spots with them. And about 80% of bikes, no issues — the ones who get all spandexed up and try to take the Alpe d’Huez are, however, enough of a problem that it’s hard to feel particularly safe those times I have to cut into the bike lane. The turn-off to the steps leading to Cadman plaza is also a tricky area because the bike lane cuts across ped traffic.

    I’ve never had an issue with cyclists on the promenade. I see no reason to enforce that ban except to please people who think rules should be followed for their own sake.

  • lee

    here we go again, dumping on all the cyclists one more time. we are talking about the promenade. before some of you tell cyclists to use manhattan bridge have you ever realize how difficult it is getting there from the west side and how dangerous it can be?

  • James

    Oh! Boo hoo! All of the mean pedestrians dumping on the bike riders. Did anyone ever consider why there are situations where bikes are controlled and not one is not allowed to ride? BECAUSE THEY CAN BE DANGEROUS TO PEDESTRIANS. Is that so had to understand? Is is so hard to obey the rules? Lets be honest, if bike riders were polite and obeyed the rules, most of the comments against them would be gone.

  • Jen

    And if pedestrians were courteous and aware of their surroundings, we could all get along. Everyone has to do better. Banning bikes from the Brooklyn Bridge is a ridiculous idea.