While Governor Andrew Cuomo was celebrating the ribbon-cutting of the second span of the new Kosciuszko Bridge, which opened on time and four years later, Comptroller Scott Stringer demanded answers on why the city was so far behind in providing proper infrastructure that would protect cyclists and pedestrians trying to make their way onto the bridge’s 20-foot-wide pathway that has been provided for them.
Stringer fired off a letter to DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg on Aug. 29, the day the span opened, requesting requesting a full accounting of why upgraded bike lanes and pedestrian walkways were not ready on the approach roads that lead to the new K-Bridge in time for its opening.
“Just as no transportation department would open up a highway before constructing on- and off-ramps, it is utterly baffling that a new bike and pedestrian path could be introduced without sufficient connecting infrastructure, on Day One,” Stringer said. “The rebuilt Kosciuszko Bridge and the new pedestrian and cycling path are critical arteries, but without protected bike lanes, sufficient lighting and high-quality signage in the immediate vicinity, cyclists and pedestrians could be placed in harm’s way.”
Stringer’s letter highlighted the urgent need for action as the city confronts cyclist and pedestrian safety across the five boroughs. Already this year, 19 cyclists have been killed — nearly twice the number in all of 2018 — which according to the DOT have occurred disproportionately in primarily industrial areas that have experienced significant population growth.
“This is a matter of life and death,” Stinger said. “At a time when the city is reeling from a spate of cyclist fatalities, a comprehensive plan must be implemented.”
Stringer also called for traffic calming measures on and around the K-Bridge. The DOT says a plan is in the works.
“Markings and signage work begins next. We had been planning to implement in the fall, though the state accelerated the opening of the path,” a DOT spokesperson said. “Most of the lanes will be standard on-street, though Laurel Hill Boulevard will be protected, we are exploring protected bike lane connections on both sides for the future as noted in the Green Wave plan.”
The $58.4 million Green Wave plan was announced by Mayor Bill de Blasio in July which will expand the bike lane network and increase law enforcement across the five boroughs.