After years of planning, bureaucratic holdups, and construction, the much-anticipated Pulaski Bridge bike path is finally completed and will officially open to cyclists traveling between Brooklyn and Queens starting tomorrow. Some cyclists were able to start using it last week, thought DOT cautioned that they were still putting the finishing touches on it.
Pulaski Bridge bike lane is open, nothing is impossible! Ahhhhhhhh!!!!! pic.twitter.com/gNr6oTuUqc
— Max RN (@MaxRivlinNadler) April 24, 2016
The two-lane, protected bike lane is a vast improvement over the previous option afforded to cyclists hoping to cross between Greenpoint and Long Island City: until now, there was a single, narrow path to be shared by cyclists and pedestrians headed in both directions. That was somewhat serviceable when the bridge saw relatively low numbers of pedestrians and cyclists crossing between the boroughs, but over the course of just four years, the bridge saw pedestrian traffic jump by 47 percent, and cyclists increased by 106 percent.
In 2012, Assemblyman Joe Lentol proposed replacing one of three Brooklyn-bound traffic lanes with a two-way bike path. Today, that vision is finally realized.
"I received countless complaints about the unsafe nature of the Pulaski bridge pedestrian and bicycle lane," Lentol said today. "People were hurt and many people chose not to use it because of its unsafe nature...I know many pedestrians and bike riders are elated of this news and it couldn't come at a better time for summer."
The two-way lane is protected on both sides, with concrete barriers and a metal fence on the traffic side separating cyclists from motorists and pedestrians. Keegan Stephan, one of the cyclists who discovered the near-completed path over the weekend, told us that the expansion's design is a huge improvement—both over the old option and the Pulaski and over the nearby Greenpoint Avenue bridge, whose protected bike lane Stephan said has gotten more hazardous recently as drivers have destroyed the protective plastic bollards.
"The design is excellent," Stephan said. "I always took the Greenpoint Ave bridge, especially since it got its slightly protected bike lane last year, because the shared pedestrian/bike sidewalk on the Pulaski bridge was such a slow down. It always felt like it created unnecessary tension between pedestrians and cyclist, no matter how polite and yielding I tried to be....[This] just might be enough of an improvement to make me switch up my commute and change bridges!"
— Keegan Stephan (@KeeganNYC) April 23, 2016
On Friday, the DOT, Lentol, and other officials will join street safety advocates to lead a ceremonial bike ride across the bridge from Queens at 10:45 a.m., to be followed by a ribbon-cutting ceremony in Greenpoint at 11.