Aug. 30, 2019 By Allie Griffin
The much-heralded Kosciuszko Bridge opened this week and features an expansive bike and pedestrian path — but many bicyclists say the pathway is dangerous to get to since access is via a number of truck-heavy streets.
The bridge includes a 20-foot wide bike and pedestrian path, but the lack of bike lanes through the industrial neighborhoods on either side of the bridge makes it difficult and often dangerous for cyclists to get to.
The two-span bridge fully opened to vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists Thursday and replaces its out-dated 1939 predecessor which frequently lead to backed-up traffic. It connects Greenpoint, Brooklyn to the Maspeth and Sunnyside neighborhoods in Queens.
The bridge project was constructed by the state, but the city controls the roadways surrounding it and thus the construction of bike plans on those roadways.
While the city’s Department of Transportation has plans to create additional bike paths connecting to the Kosciuszko Bridge on both the Brooklyn and Queens sides, cycling activists and politicians are questioning why the bike lanes were not completed in time with the bridge’s opening.
New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer penned a letter to the DOT’s commissioner denouncing its decision to open the bridge’s bike path without any bike paths to get there. He called on the department to add protected bike lanes and traffic calming measures on the streets leading up to the bridge.
“Just as no transportation department would open up a highway before constructing the 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.”
A DOT spokesperson told amNewYork that bike lanes will be added to the roads leading up to the Kosciuszko Bridge “soon.”
The complaints come amid increased calls for cyclist safety, as 19 cyclists have been killed in 2019 alone — nearly twice the number of deaths in 2018. The fatal crashes have occurred disproportionately in heavily industrial areas that have experienced an increase in their residential populations, according to the DOT.
“If you look at the Kosciuszko Bridge and what it’s trying to connect, it’s predominantly industrial areas in Queens. When you’re talking about industrial areas, you’re talking about trucks,” said Juan Restrepo, the borough organizer for the nonprofit Transportation Alternatives.
“We’re seeing that in this year specifically it is trucks that are killing New York City cyclists. They are so large and often times they don’t have proper sight lines, so creating that separate dedicated space to ride your bike and for truck drivers to drive their trucks is so integral to ensuring that this bridge is going to be safe and accessible.”
The on and off-ramps to the BQE are another obstacle for cyclists trying to reach the Kosciuszko Bridge, Restrepo said. For instance, he said that there aren’t any signs directing cyclists to its pathway entrance on the Queens side.
Restrepo said he had to bike underneath a highway overpass through a road with “tons of truck traffic” to get onto the bridge’s bike path. Even as “an able-bodied 28-year-old” and longtime cyclist, Restrepo said he felt his life was at risk.
The bike network that the DOT plans to install leading up to the bridge consists largely of “shared” bicycle lanes as opposed to “protected” lanes. Bicycling advocates argue that the plans are inadequate and that a network of protected bicycle lanes is what’s needed.
Stringer, in his letter to the DOT Commissioner, advocates for the construction of protected bike lanes.
“This is a matter of life and death,” Stringer said. “At a time when the city is reeling from a spate of cyclist fatalities, a comprehensive plan must be implemented.”
Hysterical comment section, as usual. You folks say and think what you want, I’ll say this: I love the new bike and pedestrian path over this bridge. I’ve lived in this neighborhood for 16 years, and in Greenpoint for about 10 years before that. I have nothing but optimism for the future of Sunnyside/Woodside/Greenpoint inhabitants. The new bridge is such a win-win-win for motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians, only the sour and pinched commenters of the Sunnyside Post could find fault. Thank you Scott Stringer and TA for keeping the pressure on to move the whole thing forward, but honestly, if it was left the way it is right now, it’d still be vast improvement over the sad state that this Newtown Creek crossing was in just a couple of years ago.
Simple close the bike lane until the NYCDOT gets its act together and builds approach lanes from side streets to the bridge. The state did it’s part and finished the bridge early. The previous bridge had no pedestrian path since at least the early 70s. So the bikers are not at a loss until their precious protected lanes can be completed. Safety first, right TA? Close the bike lane!
I wonder when the car lovers and bike haters are gonna throw thumbtacks on this route like they did on 47th Avenue in Sunnyside? I’m just waiting for it….
Im a bike guy. I love riding my bike over the bridge. I love my bike so much i took the seat off and i love it. Its riding bareback
Now we need a bike lane on the Verrazano bridge.
Everyone in the comments saying we should be thankful for the bridge being done early and quit complaining about it being UNSAFE are obviously of an ilk that believes if anything doesn’t affect them directly then it therefore isn’t a problem. Get your heads out of your asses and understand the world doesn’t revolve around you.
The world doesn’t revolve around you and 20 other idiots on bikes either.
Since car owners pay insurance to be on the city streets, then why cant bicycle owners? If I hit someone with my car, I have insurance. If a cyclist hits me, they go scott free. Where is the equality now? All these lanes cost MONEY. Bicyclists do not contribute anything to the city, state, or insurance companies. And on top of all that they STILL DONT USE the lanes properly and dont follow the traffic laws either. Pay insurance or stop bitching.
hmmm…what if im a driver AND a cyclist … hmmm
Bridges were built for cars – NOT for bikes!! On Jewel Avenue in Forest Hills, there is a bike lane on the right side of the road leading to Grand Central Parkway Westbound, so if you’re driving, you have to be in the middle lane and THEN get over to the right lane (making sure no bicyclist is there) to get onto the entrance to the Parkway. This is NYC not NYS! We are a driving and walking city. I’m tired of catering to people on 2 wheels who don’t have to pay for inspections, registrations, insurance, don’t pay tolls, don’t pay meters, can go through red lights and stop signs without getting a ticket and can zig zag through traffic without giving a dam that somebody is crossing the street with the light. Drivers support NYS – bicyclists don’t.
I pay the same taxes as you, which is what provides the money for our roads. Registration etc. pays mostly for DMV up keep not for infrastructure. So enough of this entitled exclusionary rhetoric. Roads are for transportation, regardless of your mode of transportation. In the middle of a climate crisis and with a growing population making streets more and more dangerous and congested with polluting motor vehicles, we need to create safe infrastructure for those who can ride bikes and use other more efficient, less polluting/damaging modes of transportation. Every major city around the World is waking up to this reality. Past time to get with it.
Sara, I agree with your frustration regarding bikers going through red lights and stop signs, and zig zagging through traffic. I myself use a bike every day, abide by traffic rules like car, and frown upon when I see someone on a bike not doing so. However I think Peter is right regarding the fact that bike riders also pay the local and state taxes that fund roads, and I would add that they also do much less damage to these roads than what a SUV or a truck would do. From that standpoint I think it is right that urban development starts compensating for the excesses of the 2oth century, when indeed road “were built for cars”, and many other public spaces for car parking spaces. Beside being equitable from a tax point of view it is also good for the climate and a positive to address some of the public health crises due to sedentariness.
You don’t pay anything close to the taxes I do, don’t kid yourself.
What’s wrong with not paying taxes? Respect our president.
Earned income tax credit recipient deadbeats ringing in.
Drivers stop at Red lights… Good luck trying to cross the streets if there are only cyclists. You’re gonna feel like Frogger trying not to get squashed.
Wow Sara, you’re a REAL moron, huh? What do you think people crossed on bridges before cars were invented? Duh Duh Duh!!!!
I don’t know what you mean by saying, “Bridges were built for cars, not bikes.” Bridges are built different ways for different things. Trains, cars, bikes, pedestrians, whatever. Sometimes their needs change, and they can be retrofitted for new purposes.
This bridge was literally built with bike and pedestrian lanes as part of the plan. Your basic premise is flawed.
I also don’t get why you’re upset about having to check for bikes before changing lanes. You’re supposed to check before changing lanes no matter what. Why should it matter if it’s a bike, car, or motorcycle?
Leave it to bikes to screw up a brand new bridge, done 4yrs before the expected date. Bikes shouldn’t be on the bridge or any major roads. Bikes suck
The title is misleading. It’s not 20 feet for bikes. I am not sure I even believe that it’s 20 feet wide for the bike + pedestrian path as I was up there and it felt pretty arrow to me. So I’m skeptical of this dimension labeling.
Also agree it’s not well sign posted. But for lots of cyclists it could definitely help shorten commute times.
1940-50s humans were thoroughly impressed with the idea of a plane taking you to far away exotic places.
2019 millennials complain about lack of vegan options 40,000 ft in the air, lack of movie options, legroom, wifi, long lines at airport, planes spewing CO2 and destroying the ozone…. freakin whiny babies.
Bridge finished years ahead of schedule and they want more.
The bike and pedestrian path was a part of the bridge plan. So they got the car portion done early and then neglected to wrap up loose ends with the bike and pedestrian path. Just because you disagree with using it does not mean it isn’t a vital or important part of infrastructure to many people. As the article said, you wouldn’t open a highway without safe and completed on and off ramps, why could they not have arranged for the bike and pedestrian path to be safe and completed before bridge opening as well? They couldn’t because it would add time to the highly-touted ahead-of-schedule completion of the bridge. They value positive publicity over people’s safety, and that’s despicable.
The plane was a private industry endeavor. This bridge represents bloated government. These are completely two different things. You’d probably compare SpaceX to this bridge.
The DOT, Transportation Alternatives, and the mayor want to get rid of cars.
You know the mayor rides in a car right? Not great at critical thinking.
Please stop your complaining. How fortunate are we to have it built instead of added at a cost that would be prohibitive or impossible later. Always easy to criticize. You can’t go back and add the lane. Engineers will work to connect the lane on each side. Work together on the protected design. You could just say close if off til its connected and safe to use.
Roll over and take it… Maybe that’s how you handle your rep. This country was designed to hold the reps accountable!
Wait the four years and you’ll have your f-ing bike lane right on schedule. If the city builds the access to the bridge roadway. The State did it’s part, now it’s up to big bird and his band of idiots at NYCDOT. https://www1.nyc.gov/html/dot/downloads/pdf/kosciuszko-bridge-cb2-jun2019.pdf. Until then swim or take the bus.
Doesn’t matter. Kosciuszko Bridge was never that great.
I walked the bridge on Thursday from the Queens side into Brooklyn. Great ramp design with lots of space. But there are still no signs directing bicyclists and pedestrians to the ramp either on the Queen or Brooklyn sides as of now. My guess is that they wanted to open the lanes to traffic as quickly as possible and that the signs and lanes will be added soon enough. But for now, it was hard to find the entrance ramp on the Queens side.
I am agree with you if you are not familiar with the bridge and you know your way Around you might get lost ( Without signs ). To find where as 495 ( L. I. E. ) When do you get forced to exit on Roosevelt Avenue
And there we have it folks. A tyrant from a far of region (upstate NY) standing over the traffic like a Roman emperor of a crumbling empire. This bridge is obviously about Cuomo’s giant ego rather than traffic/pedestrians. We got Fredo and now this is Santino (Sonny).
Does anyone use common sense these days? Does everything have to be labeled and highlighted? Are we THAT crippled of a society?! Guess what? There was never a pedestrian walkway sign for the spiral walkway that connected to the Q67, but people found it, and walked it, daily. GASP! This bike lane was faulty from inception. You can’t just alter traffic patterns because of the minority group. If you choose to engage in that mode of transportation, great! That is your choice, and just like everything else there is risk. The city is focusing so much time, attention and money into bike lanes, I’d like to see what they are going to look like in the winter months. Large spans of wasted space, that once used to be parking spaces or additional lanes of travel. It’s unfortunate that often the loudest voices, are the least informed, much like the Amazon deal. Is every stop sign an “all-way” stop sign, no. Does every turning lane have a designated turning signal, no. Do crosswalks physically impede someone from jay-walking, no. Put on your helmet, and fanciest elbow/knee pads, and STOP complaining.
55% of New Yorkers don’t own a car. Drivers are, in fact, the minority here.
Catering to cars, at the expense of everyone else, is not the answer.
Last year, auto registration rose nearly 10% over the last four years, that number doesn’t include commercial vehicles. While it may be true that the majority of people who live in the city, don’t have a car- That’s not to say, everyone who doesn’t own a car, owns a BIKE! When you have a chance, walk over to Skillman, one of the poorest executions of bike lane designs in our area. Walk up and down for a bit, you tell me who the minority group is. How many people utilize that bike lane vs vehicles. There are better ways to regulate vehicular travel, than to put up these asinine bike lanes.
>Walk up and down for a bit, you tell me who the minority group is
You have a WHOLE anecdote?! Those statistics must be wrong! Great argument.
What are they going to look like in the winter months? Snow & slush covered! DUH!
Agreed and when the snowplow comes through, the cars sticking out will ne damaged. How will they plow and where will the snow go. Up against the cars who will shovel it back.
Sooo… the same as before?
That is a moronic response. I can’t even begin to know where to start. No, not every intersection is a 4-way stop, but that’s because you don’t need it. Where you do, you have it. A small amount of space was given to pedestrians and bikes, it makes sense that the traffic leading up to it is safe and doesn’t kill anyone. While we’re at it, f* all, let’s just talked away all signage why don’t we, you got eyes and a GPS you can figure out where to get off for your exit, can’t you. People are angry and dumb.
Never should have built that bike lane to begin with. Could have been used as an extra lane, or a direct lane to meeker Morgan ave exit.
Should have built it separately like the walking spiral they have their for pedestrians. Or even better, not have built it at all. The bicyclist could go to Brooklyn by greenpoint ave where they already have bike lanes.
Marc, more lanes don’t really help when BQE is 3 lanes, it will create more bottleneck. You need a smooth flow not sudden widen and narrow. I didn’t drive there yet but I think it’s wide enough as it is. However what could have been done is a dedicated bridge over the creek, so trucks don’t have to go over and around to get across. Going around to Greenpoint Ave is like a trap an hell.
Let the city do their work and bikers have access for commuting, if you don’t bike you shouldn’t be giving opinions, thank you.
You should have told them this in the beginning before they built the bridge, maybe even before they built the original.