For both cyclists and pedestrians, traveling across the Brooklyn Bridge is far from a pleasant affair. Squeezing onto a ten-foot-wide (17 feet at its widest) elevated path intended for shared use may no longer be viable as the bridge becomes a destination in its own right and not just a piece of infrastructure. In light of this, the New York City Department of Transport (DOT) is looking into creating a “Times Square in the Sky,” an expanded pathway thats accommodates more foot traffic.
As complaints mount, the DOT seems prepared to take action. “We’ve decided the time has come,” New York’s Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg told the New York Times. “We want to think in a deep, thoughtful way about the next evolution of the bridge.” The resulting plan, dramatically titled “Times Square in the Sky,” looks to widen the pathway used by non-vehicle travelers on the bridge. As its name suggests, the project acknowledges the bridge’s role as a place to visit as many tourists stop to take photographs of the views it offers as well as the structure itself. In addition to this, the bridge is also uses as a place for sitting, talking, performing, as well as selling and buying goods. In its study of the bridge, the DOT notes that its narrowest point is also conveniently a hotspot for picture taking.
The DOT suggests a central bike path, protected by railing or barriers to create dedicated cycle lanes going in each direction with pedestrian walkways on either side. This would take advantage of the un-used promenade space between the two towers. As for the approaches to the bridge, two options have been put forward: A short range plan to “reallocate existing even split between bikes and pedestrians to 10 feet for pedestrians and 7 feet for bikes” and a “seasonal fence to reduce conflicts,” as well as a long range plan to build elevated cantilevered walking spaces.
Pinch points around the staircases are alos recognized and targeted for remediation. Controls and crossings to manage speed and different uses would be located at the Brooklyn end, while the DOT would “explore the feasibility of closing and covering the stairway” on the Manhattan side.
For now, the DOT’s next course of action is to go ahead with a consultant study, running through to February of next year and to be carried out by AECOM. This will include structural analysis, conceptual design development, historical preservation implication study, and a conceptual cost estimate.