The Brooklyn Bridge is apparently now the “it” place to be if you live in New York. In recent years, according to the New York Times, the elevated promenade of the iconic bridge has become clogged with tourists posing for pictures, vendors selling knickknacks and commuters trying to get to work or back home. Pedestrians overflow into the bike lane, slowing bike traffic and the walkers reportedly yell at bike riders for going too fast, or coming too close.
The bridge averages 13, 196 pedestrian crossings per weekday, up from 10,484 in 2011. Weekend crossings have blown up from 32,453 from 14,145. Bicyclist crossing have also jumped from an average of 3,157 for a weekday in 2017 from 2,981 in 2011.
The New York City Department of Transportation is taking a series of steps to relieve congestion on the bridge, including considering creating a separate bike-only entrance to the bridge on the Manhattan side and limiting the number of vendors and where they can sell.
These steps were part of a recent report based on findings from an engineering study that looked at ways to reduce overcrowding on the bridge.
The Brooklyn Bridge opened in 1883 and carried far more people when railroad cars and trolleys used the bridge. Today, traffic is limited to six lanes for passenger vehicles and a promenade overhead that narrows to just 10 feet across in places.
A decision on whether to widen the promenade, including possibly building decks on top of the girders that run directly above the car lanes, has been put off. The engineering study says a larger promenade would attract even more people and add more weight to the bridge, which could be a problem. Before any construction takes place, the report recommends inspecting the bridge’s cables, which haven’t been inspected since the 1980s.
In the meantime, officials are starting by drafting regulations that will limit vendors on the bridge as people stopping to browse their goods create a bottleneck for traffic. New signs and graphics are also being installed to divert some of the throngs to a little used bridge stairwell on the Manhattan side that leads down to Frankfort Street. Pedestrians could take the stairwell to exit the bridge instead of continuing onto the ramp leading to City Hall.