#MoreSpaceQBB: Exclusive Walkway & Bikeway on the Queensboro Bridge

The shared bike / pedestrian path on the Queensboro Bridge is dangerously overcrowded.

Bike traffic has exploded on the bridge. Until the 1990s, the path carried fewer than 1,000 bikes a day. In 2008, the average had grown to 3,402, according to city figures. That number surged by 78% to more than 5,000 a day in 2018. The curent record for a weekday was set on July 26, 2017, when traffic hit 6,556 bike trips. Bike traffic on the Queensboro Bridge is only slightly below that on the Manhattan Bridge. But while Manhattan Bridge cyclists get a dedicated lane, Queens cyclists are crammed into a path as narrow as 9 feet that’s shared with pedestrians.

Meanwhile, foot traffic has multiplied. In 2007, an average of 33 people an hour walked or ran over the bridge at peak hours. In 2017, that number was up almost four-fold to 121.  These walkers and joggers who simply want to cross the river on foot are forced to walk single-file to avoid bicycles. Overcrowding on the narrow pathway leads to dangerous conflicts. Crashes happen often. At peak hours, the shared path rates “very poor” or “failing,” according to federal guidelines for level of service on shared paths.

Thousands of new residents are moving into new buildings in Long Island City, so the dangerous overcrowding is only getting 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. We also want today’s deficient infrastructure improved. The city should fix the dangerous hairpin turn on the Manhattan side, the absence of lighting on the Manhattan end of the North Outer Roadway path, and the high-conflict crosswalk at 60th Street and First Avenue. 

Improvements can’t wait. The changes should be made at once.

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!

 

NOTE: This petition originally called for the city to fix drainage problems at the Queens end of the bridge. DOT responded! We appreciate this fix. Now let’s fix the other problems.

This petition will be delivered to
Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, Councilmember Ben Kallos, Queens Community Board 2, Manhattan Community Board 8
Over the 100+ year history of the Queensboro Bridge, its lanes have seen many different configurations and have served many different types of road users. Due to the extreme and dangerous overcrowding on the current shared pathway, we should reconvert the SOR back into a non-motor vehicle path to provide safe passage for pedestrians, while allowing the NOR to be designated for cyclists.

We look forward to working with you to make these changes happen.
Read the letter