LIC Journal: Advocates want more non-car space on Queensboro Bridge Read more: LIC/Astoria Journal - Advocates want more non car space on Queensboro Bridge

Originally published in Long Island City Journal on August 26, 2020.

Local lawmakers and transit advocates are asking the city to take action to create a safer path on the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge for pedestrians and cyclists.

In a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio and Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, elected officials and Transportation Alternatives requested the conversion of the underused South Outer Roadway into a sidewalk.

Among the letter’s signatories were State Senator Michael Gianaris, Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer and Councilman Costa Constantinides.

“Walking or biking over the Queensboro Bridge, despite the beautiful views of the city and the historic architecture of the bridge itself, is not a safe or comfortable experience,” they wrote. “In fact, it presents a danger to public health.”

According to lawmakers, thousands of cyclists and pedestrians commute to and from Manhattan on the bridge everyday, but jockey for space on a nine-foot path. They said those conditions have led to frequent crashes, serious injuries and insufficient space for social distancing.

“New Yorkers who don’t feel safe crossing the East River by subway, bike or foot will turn to cars,” they added. “Many already have. This is leading to even more crowded streets, pollution in the air and crashes.”

Between 2006 and 2016, lawmakers wrote, vehicular traffic on the Queensbridge Bridge fell 8.5 percent, while bicycle trips doubled, and pedestrian trips have tripled. But they also warned that during the pandemic, New Yorkers remain wary of the buses and subways, and are increasingly turning to biking, scooters or walking.

Advocates added that over 3,500 people and dozens of businesses have signed a petition in support of adding more pedestrian space to the Queensboro Bridge. Manhattan Community Board 8 voted 47-1 in favor of it, while Queens Community Board 2 approved a resolution to support it unanimously.

“Every level of the community feels the urgent need to make the bridge safer and more equitable,” the letter reads, “yet the city has insisted on indefinite delays.”

A DOT spokesperson said in a statement that the agency is currently undertaking major and urgent safety upgrades to the bridge, which is over 100 years old.

“Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner Trottenberg have made it clear that it is their intention to repurpose the South Outer Roadway as dedicated bicycle and pedestrian space, as soon as the current construction work is complete and the funding is available,” the spokesperson said. “We’re excited to move this project forward as soon as we can.”