Your correspondent occasionally enjoys a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, but as the narrow pedestrian and bike paths, separated only by a thick painted white line, have become increasingly crowded, enjoyment has become scarce. I’ll quickly admit this is more the fault of pedestrians than of cyclists. Walking three or even four abreast, or stopping to pose photos, causes other pedestrians to have to glance nervously ahead and over their shoulders before gingerly stepping over the white line to clear the obstruction. Even the precautionary look sometimes fails to spot a helmeted, goggled, and Spandex clad speed demon taking fullest advantage of a downward slope and bellowing “Bike lane! Bike Lane!” as one struggles to get back on one’s rightful side.
Today’s New York Times reports that the New York City Department of Transportation has commissioned a study to determine if it is feasible to expand the pedestrian and bike paths. One possibility, shown in the Times piece, would be to build two new paths on top of the girders that now flank the existing path and extend over the automobile roads. The illustration shows these as new pedestrian paths, with bikes having all of the old path below. I would reverse this, and make the new paths for bikes, one eastbound and one westbound. The old path would be exclusively for pedestrians. It would still be crowded with tourists on sunny days, but I think we could handle it. I’m actually a big fan of bike riding, despite having never learned to ride. I’d like to see lots more people commuting by bike instead of by car.
In any event, the Times quotes Polly Trottenberg, the city’s Commissioner of Transportation, as saying the study is “only a first step” and that any attempt to change anything on the 133 year old Brooklyn Bridge “tends to be costly and complicated.”
Photo: C. Scales for BHB