Queensboro Bridge Demonstration Set for Wednesday; New Williamsburg group kicks off with meeting, August 6
July 30, 1992
Foot and bicycle access to New
York City's East River Bridges has hit an all-time low, say pedestrian and
cycling advocates. The recent closing of the Williamsburg Bridge walkway,
combined with the City's policy of turning the Queensboro Bridge's bike and foot
path over to auto traffic every week-night, is thwarting non-motorized passage
to Manhattan to the worst extent in recent memory, according to Transportation
Alternatives, a 1500-member NYC bicycling-pedestrian advocacy group.
In response, activists from
Transportation Alternatives will block autos from the Queensboro Bridge bike and
walking lane from 5-7 PM, on Wednesday, July 31. The protestors will gather at
the bridge entrance on 59th Street between 1st and 2nd Avenues. In Williamsburg,
citizens have formed Williamsburg Organized for the Walkway to work for the
restoration of the pedestrian- and bike-way on that bridge. They will hold an
inaugural meeting Tuesday, August 6, at 7:30 PM, at the Williamsburg tavern The
Right Bank, at Kent Avenue and Broadway. The group has vowed to march over the
bridge roadway if the City does not immediately begin work on a new pathway.
The Williamsburg Bridge walkway
was shut down in late June as pieces of the decking began to crumble and fall.
Although the NYC Department of Transportation has developed plans for a
temporary bike and foot span, the City refuses to say when work on it will be
completed, or even when it will begin. A source within the DoT -- who insisted
on remaining anonymous -- told Williamsburg activists that the DoT was
considering leaving the walkway closed until comprehensive renovations begin on
the Williamsburg Bridge late in the decade. The reason given was the perception
in DoT that the walkway was little used.
"The path would certainly
have had a lot more traffic if it had been maintained and kept safe," said
Williamsburg Organized for the Walkway founder Anna West. "The surface of
the path was dangerous to thin-tired bikes, and even to some types of shoes.
That's not to mention the muggers. Complete absence of maintenance is also what
caused the path to fall."
"The low priority accorded
bicyclists and pedestrians by City transportation officials has grown worse
under present DoT leadership," said Jon Orcutt, director of Transportation
Alternatives. "With partial closure of the Queensboro and no secure plans
to restore access to the Williamsburg, bicycling is suffering more under the
Dinkins Administration even than under bike-banning Mayor Koch."
The example of the Manhattan
Bridge is especially troubling to cycling and pedestrian advocates. The walkway
there was dismantled in the 1960's for reasons similar to those leading to the
closure of the Williamsburg path, but never rebuilt.
DoT's disregard of regard of
foot and bike access to East River bridges comes when air pollution in NYC is
again worsening, after improving through the 1970's and early 1980's.
Transportation Alternatives 127 West 26th Street, Suite 1002
New York, NY 10001
Phone: 212-629-8080 Fax: 212-629-8334