One of the Brooklyn Bridge’s car lanes will officially start its transformation into a dedicated bike lane on Monday, June 21st.
The new two-way protected bike path is expected to be completed this fall, at which point the crowded promenade will become pedestrian-only. The plan was previously announced by Mayor Bill de Blasio during his final State of the City address in January.
“The Brooklyn Bridge, one of the nation’s most beloved structures, will this year celebrate its 138th birthday,” Department of Transportation Commissioner Hank Gutman said in a statement. “Over that long history, the bridge has changed with the times – as horse-drawn carriages were replaced with trolleys, which were then retired with the advent of car lanes. In the coming months, we are going to transform this bridge we all love once again – this time with new bicycle lanes that invest in the bridge’s more sustainable future.”
He added, “We ask New Yorkers for their patience during construction, and encourage drivers to use other crossings into Manhattan. And of course, we look forward to the first bike ride this fall.”
Indeed, drivers who use the Brooklyn Bridge to head into Manhattan will need to change up their routine. According to the city:
- Motorists who normally access the Brooklyn Bridge from downtown Brooklyn are advised that they may have to adjust their commuting patterns both during and after construction.
- Beginning Monday evening, the right turn from westbound Tillary Street onto the Brooklyn Bridge will no longer be permitted.
- Combined with delays expected for the planned rehabilitation in the months ahead along the triple-cantilever section of the BQE, drivers are advised to seek alternate routes to Lower Manhattan, including using the Manhattan Bridge, the Hugh L. Carey Tunnel or by opting for cycling or mass transit.
The Brooklyn Bridge isn’t the only bridge getting a bike lane—the Queensboro Bridge will also see its north outer roadway transformed into a two-way lane, with the south outer roadway dedicated to pedestrians. That construction will require a “slightly longer lead time” than the Brooklyn Bridge, according to City Hall.
Bike traffic between Brooklyn and Manhattan has spiked in the last year, with the latest figures showing a 27 percent increase over pre-pandemic ridership, according to Transportation Alternatives.
“A dedicated bike lane on the Brooklyn Bridge cannot come soon enough, and we are thrilled that construction is beginning this month,” Danny Harris, the group’s executive director, said in a statement. “We will continue to work with the de Blasio administration and the next occupant of City Hall to improve infrastructure for cyclists and pedestrians on bridges across the five boroughs.”
De Blasio had promised to build 30 miles of protected bike lanes in 2021; the Brooklyn Bridge is just over one mile long.
Another fun fact: The city says this is the “first major reconfiguration of the landmarked bridge since 1950, when trolley tracks were permanently removed.” Here’s what the trolley cars looked like, amid the cars (tbh, it seems a bit terrifying):