The city will begin construction this year to convert the outer roadways on the Queensboro Bridge into a two-way bike lane and a separate pedestrian-only walkway.
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the project during his State of the City address, saying it was time to bring the span, as well as the Brooklyn Bridge, into the 21st century and embrace the future with a radical new plan.
“We’ll have space on the bridges devoted solely to clean transportation, and we’ll create new bike boulevards in every borough designed to give bicycles travel priority and put cyclist safety first,” de Blasio said. “These are the kind of changes that allow us to move out of the era of fossil fuels and the era of the automobile, and into a green future as part of our commitment to the New York City Green New Deal.”
The Queensboro Bridge’s north outer roadway will be converted into a two-way, bike-only lane while the south outer roadway will be committed to foot traffic.
“This exciting news comes after years of persistent advocacy from leaders and activists throughout Queens,” state Senator Michael Gianaris said. “The new bike and pedestrian lanes will make crossing the East River safer for everyone and change how we move around our city for the better. I especially want to thank Transportation Alternatives, the tireless advocates who worked with them, and all the public officials whose work made this possible. I stand ready to help get this done at the earliest opportunity.”
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer has long been an advocate for street safety and adding infrastructure for cyclists as Queens residents become less reliant on cars.
“This news is a huge win for all of us who’ve been fighting for the last five years not only to save lives, but for a cleaner, greener and healthier city,” Van Bramer said. “Bike lanes are key to a post-COVID new economy, and I will make sure to hold the mayor to a real timeline.”
Construction is expected to be completed in 2022. Transportation Alternatives Executive Director Danny Harris called the safety measures on the Queensboro Bridge a “giant leap forward” for the city.
“We look forward to working with the de Blasio administration on this vital new project and other efforts to improve infrastructure for cyclists and pedestrians on bridges and streets across the five boroughs,” Harris said.
Astoria resident Macartney Morris, an outspoken Transportation Alternative activist, has worked alongside Queens residents since 2016 on the Queensboro Bridge bike lane proposal.
“I applaud Mayor de Blasio for finally acknowledging the reality that it is overcrowded and dangerous for those who walk and bike over it every day,” Morris said. “There will be a new mayor in less than 12 months, and this mayor should be evaluated on the actions he takes right now, not on the ideas he announces and suggests that the next mayor do.”
In addition to the Queensboro Bridge project, de Blasio announced that the city’s Open Streets program would become permanent, giving back the streets to pedestrians and bicyclists.
“We’ll make Open Streets permanent, and we’ll keep building them out more each year so New Yorkers have a better way to live, and not one that always depends on the automobile,” he said.