On Tuesday, November 12th, bicyclists and pedestrians will assert their right to use the Queensboro Bridge bike lane during the evening rush hour. People wanting to use the bridge unimpeded will gather at 6 pm at the Manhattan entrance to the bridge bike path, 59th Street between 1st and 2nd Avenues.
The NYC Department of Transportation (DOT) will allow cars on the Queensboro Bridge bike lane weekdays from 3:30 pm to 8 pm, denying cyclists and pedestrians unrestricted access to their only viable way across the East River. In doing this, the DOT is reneging on three years of written promises of a full-time lane.
City Chokes on Too Many Cars. Solution? Ban Bikes and Make Room for More!
The NYC DOT has cited the current "traffic emergency" as the reason it needs to take away the bike lane, ignoring the fact that it created the "emergency" by giving motorists a free ride into and out of the most congested part of the city.
"The city is addressing traffic congestion problems by penalizing those who are a part of the solution," said Jesse Kalb, Bicycle Program Director for Transportation Alternatives. "Everyone knows there are enormous traffic problems on the Queensboro bridge because there are too many cars trying to use it. So why are we accommodating even more cars while discouraging people from walking and cycling? Addressing the problem of too much traffic by accommodating more cars is like dealing with a weight problem by loosening your belt."
The City DOT is also grossly underestimating the number of daily cyclists and pedestrians using the Queensboro Bridge, as evidenced by recent statements from DOT Commissioner Christopher Lynn. The "several dozen bicyclists and pedestrians" (NY Times, 11/9/96) Lynn claims use the bridge daily are actually nearly 1,000 people a day, according to DOT's spring 1995 data. More recent counts by Transportation Alternatives show a 3:30 pm to 8 pm average of nearly 500 users, with a one-hour high of 140 cyclists and pedestrians using the bridge (5 pm to 6 pm).
Borough Presidents Claire Shulman (Queens) and Ruth Messinger (Manhattan) have both supported keeping the bridge open to cyclists and pedestrians.