By Bill Parry
The city’s Department of Transportation officially opened the long-awaited Pulaski Bridge bikeway Friday connecting Long Island City and Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Cyclists now have a dedicated and fully protected two-way path separated from the pedestrian walkway on the 0.6 mile span across Newtown Creek.
“We are thrilled to be opening a new Pulaski Bridge bikeway worthy of Long Island City and Greenpoint, two of our city’s greatest and quickly growing neighborhoods,” DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said. “With creativity and teamwork, DOT’s Transportation Planning and Bridges teams have given New York City’s 1,000-mile bicycle network one great new mile.”
The federally funded project took more than 3 1/2 years to complete due to unique engineering problems on the movable bascule bridge that opened in 1954. The Pulaski Bridge opens nearly 500 times a year for marine traffic on the waterway below.
“It’s a moveable bridge and that adds to the complexity here,” Deputy Commissioner for Transportation Planning & Management Ryan Russo said. “It was a complex problem. It wasn’t exactly putting a man on the moon, but it was still a complex engineering challenge.”
Russo led a group of elected officials, DOT staff and transportation advocates on an inaugural ride across the bridge from Long Island City. Cyclists previously had to share the 8.5-foot-wide path with pedestrians leading to safety concerns.
“I’ve biked on this bridge for many years,” City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) said. “Newtown Creek is really something. I love Newtown Creek, but that doesn’t mean I want to swim in it anytime soon and there were plenty of times across the bridge where you just didn’t feel safe.”
The latest DOT counts show that 1,500 cyclists use the bridge during peak weekday hours. In the period between 2009 and 2013, cyclist volume on the bridge grew by 106 percent, while pedestrian use increased 47 percent.
“The opening of this protected bikeway is going to encourage even more people to walk and bike between Brooklyn and Queens,” City Councilman Stephen Levin (D-Brooklyn) said. “The best was to get people outside and active to make them feel safe and comfortable, and this project does just that.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr