Widening the Brooklyn Bridge

Anyone who knows anything about New York knows that the Brooklyn bridge is as much an iconic structure and tourist attraction as a transportation link.  Yet in a way the bridge is also an example of our road user class system: cars have over 60 feet of width yet pedestrians and bicycles have to share a space as narrow as 8 feet. Some two-way segments are too narrow for two-way bike traffic, and most cyclists learn to avoid the bridge even if it means taking a long and inconvenient detour to the Manhattan Bridge. The pedestrian walkway is much too narrow for the level of traffic that it is asked to accommodate.







Earlier this month a few City Council members put forth a proposal that is essentially a request to study the feasibility of widening the path.  The city is in the middle of a long-term reconstruction project on the bridge which offers benefits only to car drivers, and the path has thus far been ignored, despite the critical conditions.  Since there has not yet been a study, nobody knows how much it will cost or if it's even possible to widen the bridge.

There is a short-term fix that, because our politics operates on the assumption that auto traffic capacity can never be questioned, nobody will talk about. Just drop some bollards or jersey barriers down as on nearby Flushing Street to convert one of the six existing ten-foot-wide one-way car lanes into one safe two-way bike path. Done. No engineering studies or long-term construction required.