Construction will begin this year on a project to give cyclists and pedestrians their own dedicated lanes on separate sides of the Queensboro-Ed Koch Bridge.
Mayor de Blasio made the announcement on Jan. during his State of the City address on Jan. 28. The Bridges for People proposal also calls for the innermost Manhattan-bound lane of the Brooklyn Bridge to become a two-way protected bike path, while converting the existing bike-pedestrian crossing to the exclusive use of pedestrians.
“The Brooklyn Bridge and the Queensboro Bridge are iconic and deeply intertwined in the daily lives of countless New Yorkers,” the mayor said, according to a summary provided by his office. “Now, it’s time to bring them into the 21st century and embrace the future with a radical new plan.
“On the Queensboro Bridge, we will begin construction this year to convert the north outer roadway into a two-way bike-only lane and convert the south outer roadway to a two-way pedestrian-only lane,” de Blasio said.
Construction is not expected to be completed until 2022.
Related plans unveiled during the press conference included new bike boulevards in every borough; and making permanent the Open Streets program that de Blasio created as a result of the isolation during the early days of Covid-19 in the city.
“While we leave the rest of the pandemic behind, Open Streets will become a prominent part of our landscape,” the statement said.
The northern outer lane on the Manhattan-bound side right now is shared by pedestrians and cyclists, and while painted lanes and signs supposedly assign both their separate lanes, it’s pretty much a matter of the honor system.
The south outer roadway right now brings vehicular traffic from Manhattan into the borough.
State Senate Deputy Majority Leader Mike Gianaris (D-Astoria) was pleased.
“This exciting news comes after years of persistent advocacy from leaders and activists throughout Queens,” he said. “The new bike and pedestrian lanes will make crossing the East River safer for everyone and change how we move around our city for the better.”
“This news is a huge win for all of us who’ve been fighting for the last five years not only to save lives, but for a cleaner, greener, and healthier city,” said Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) in a statement issued by his campaign for borough president.
Danny Harris, executive director of Transportation Alternatives, hailed the mayor’s announcement in a statement last Friday.
“Transportation Alternatives has long been the leader in calling for a citywide network of protected bike lanes, permanent Open Streets, and more space for cyclists and pedestrians on our bridges, and we are thrilled to see Mayor de Blasio embarking on these new plans,” Harris said in a statement on the group’s website.
“We are heartened to know that the clear majority of New Yorkers support these life-saving improvements, and hope that these projects will be delivered without delay.”