Cyclists attempting to cross the Williamsburg Bridge in a protected bike lane on Tuesday night were blocked from the route by NYPD officers and barriers, according to witness Dave Johannes. Cyclists said the situation was dangerous and incongruous, since cars were allowed to pass. Video shows some cyclists crossing in the roadway, in a pack.
"Cars going through but not bikes or pedestrians," Johannes tweeted. "Cyclist riding the highway part as an alternative... dangerous."
Johannes, 28, who lives on the Lower East Side, told Gothamist that he was cycling to a friend's house in Williamsburg for a barbecue around 6:30 p.m. when he first encountered the blockade. He crossed in the car lane with about 10 other cyclists. He did the same around 10:30 p.m., Manhattan-bound.
"Cars and bikes should not be that close together with such a large variants in speed," Johannes added. "More ok on city streets, since speeds are more similar—but the bridge is like a highway."
The NYPD did not immediately comment on the closures, which applied to the Pulaski Bridge as well, according to a witness. Officers on the Williamsburg Bridge told Johannes that the Manhattan Bridge was also closed to cyclists and pedestrians, he said. All three bridges offered views of the Macy's Fireworks on the East River.
"Nevertheless NYPD allowed people in cars to stop on the bridge and watch the fireworks," witness and real estate reporter Rebecca Baird-Remba said of the Pulaski closings.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Transportation said the agency does not have a role in street closures, and deferred comment to the NYPD. She added that the DOT typically announces NYPD closures around construction sites.
Johannes said that he and fellow-cyclists took a "safety in numbers" approach. If the intent is to avoid pedestrian crowding on bridges during fireworks, he added, "Alternatively, station officers every 100 ft to tell bikes/peds the bridge is only pass thru during the hours surrounding the fireworks."
Here we go again pic.twitter.com/PKMw9Wrzxn
— Dave Johannes (@davejohannes) July 5, 2017