Building on our #RideToWestSide advocacy, Bridges 4 People presented to Manhattan Community Board 1 about the need for protected bike lanes connecting the Brooklyn Bridge bike path and the Hudson River Greenway. CB1's Transportation Committee unanimously passed a resolution to create protected eastbound and westbound connections!
If you weren't able to attend the meeting, you can watch the recording on YouTube:
Many of the biking connections to the bridges connecting Brooklyn and Manhattan need substantial improvement. To kick off our focus on improving these connections this spring, Bridges 4 People hosted a rally and ride to showcase recent wins and highlight current issues for pedestrians and bicyclists along approaches to the Manhattan Bridge. Safe bicycling infrastructure needs to be part of a connected, protected network because no one's trips just go over a single bridge or along a single street.
Bridges 4 People supporters were joined by Council Member Lincoln Restler, Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso, and Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon. CM Restler spoke to the urgent need to improve connections to the six bridges throughout the 33rd Council District:
Getting to them is putting your life in danger, and it shouldn't be that way. Biking through Downtown Brooklyn to get to the Brooklyn Bridge, it's impossible. Biking over that entranceway to the Manhattan Bridge is terrible. Every single time, I feel like I'm putting myself in danger.
Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso discussed how much has changed to improve transportation in Brooklyn and how his office is pushing to complete the tranformation of streets across Brooklyn. Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon talked about how parked cars in bike lanes make her district difficult to traverse and called for protected bike lanes. Council Member Shahana Hanif of the 39th Council District was unable to join us, but shared a speech to be read on her behalf, including:
Across our City, bike paths are a dangerous route to take. They are poorly protected, routinely ignored, and their haphazard connections can create treacherous conditions for cyclists. Some of the worst chokepoints are our City's bridges. These bridges should be the crown jewels of our cycling networks, but far too often they have dangerous points of entry that make their journeys hazardous.
Bridges 4 People activist Aruni Ranaweera shared her story about being hit while running the in former shared bike and pedestrian path on the Brooklyn Bridge and noted "when the city prioritizes space for cars, they crowd the rest of us together and force us to be a danger to each other." If you missed the rally, you can watch highlights from the speeches and the ride:
After the rally, we biked from Downtown Brooklyn to the Manhattan Bridge and then to Times Plaza along another bridge connection. Our route drew attention to numerous places where improvements to prioritize people walking and biking could be made:
We also saw numerous opportunities for better pedestrian spaces along our route. The area under the Manhattan Bridge needs dedicated pedestrian crossings so people walking and biking don't have to share tight spaces, and if cars were no longer allowed to park on the cobblestone sections here, there could be even more space for people.
Architect Betty Rexrode showed us the untapped potential of Trinity Park, the currently abandoned space inside and around the bicycle entrance to the Manhattan Bridge.
Once two car lanes on the Manhattan Bridge are turned into wider bike lanes that meet national standards, the current tiny bike lane would become additional pedestrian space on the bridge, and Trinity Park would be the entrance to that space. Currently, this space is inaccessible, blocked off by chainlink fences and misused as parking, but a reactivated Trinity Park would provide four additional acres of gorgeous park space to New Yorkers.
Last month, a two-way protected bike path replaced a car lane on the Brooklyn Bridge. More people have already been able to safely bike across the East River, but there is still more work to be done to create Bridges 4 People.
Bridges 4 People hosted a bike ride and pedestrian parade to celebrate the opening of its new bi-directional bike path. Cyclists kicked off the celebration by biking both ways across the Brooklyn Bridge.
After the ride, cyclists met up with our pedestrian participants for a rally with speeches from TA Exceutive Director Danny Harris and Bridges 4 People activists. Everyone marched together on foot (some walking bicycles!) in a unified parade on the bridge's promenade to fun music from Off the Bar Brass!