The current shared bike / pedestrian outer pathway on the Queensboro Bridge is dangerously overcrowded.
On an average workday, more than 5,000 bike trips are made over the bridge, a 21% growth in bike traffic between 2011–2016. 2017’s peak travel day hit 6,556 bike trips (7/26/17). This is comparable to bike traffic over the Manhattan or Williamsburg Bridges – except that Queens cyclists are only given half the space as cyclists on the other bridges, as the 11-foot-wide path on the Queensboro Bridge is also shared with pedestrians.
Meanwhile, pedestrians and joggers who simply want to cross the river on foot are now forced to dart or step to the side to avoid a steady stream of bicycles moving in both directions. This extreme overcrowding on the narrow pathway leads to dangerous conflicts between pedestrians and cyclists on a daily basis – with crashes happening every week. At peak hours, the shared path rates “Very Poor” or “Failing”, according to shared-path level of service federal guidelines.
And with thousands of new residents set to move into nearby new buildings over the next few years, the dangerous overcrowding will only get worse. This is unacceptable. But the solution is simple and equitable: create exclusive and separate lanes for pedestrians and cyclists.
We call on the City of New York and its Department of Transportation to create on the Queensboro Bridge:
1. A South Outer Walkway, converting the South Outer Roadway (SOR) currently used for cars into an exclusive pedestrian walkway, including the creation of new, safe, ADA-compliant pedestrian access and approaches on both Queens and Manhattan sides.
2. A North Outer Bikeway, converting the North Outer Roadway (NOR) currently used for bikes and pedestrians into an exclusive cyclist bikeway, including improvement of existing deficient infrastructure such as:
• the dangerous 180° hairpin turn on the Manhattan side,
• the high-conflict crosswalk at 60th Street and First Avenue, and
• the failing drainage systems across the bridge and at its feet.
We are open to a conversation regarding the exact configurations that make sense for all road users, but the status quo is no longer acceptable. Queens cyclists and pedestrians deserve just as much space and just as safe of conditions as other East River bridges enjoy. Let's leverage this unique opportunity to grow and improve access to the bridge for all users. It has been done before, and it can be done again!
We look forward to working with you to make these changes happen.