Lower Manhattan’s Local News
Mayor Announces Bike Path for Brooklyn Bridge
The plan announced by Mayor de Blasio on Thursday evening will dedicate one traffic lane, on the Manhattan-bound side of the Brooklyn Bridge, for conversion into a two-lane bike path.
On Thursday evening, Mayor Bill de Blasio, at his eighth (and final) State of the City address, announced that a dedicated bike lane would be coming to the Brooklyn Bridge (with another slated for the Ed Koch Bridge) before the end of this year.
“The Brooklyn Bridge and the Queensboro Bridge are iconic and deeply intertwined in the daily lives of countless New Yorkers,” Mr. de Blasio said. “Now, it’s time to bring them into the 21st century and embrace the future with a radical new plan. On the Brooklyn Bridge, we will ban cars from the innermost lane of the Manhattan-bound side to transform it into a two-way protected bike lane and turn the existing shared promenade space into a space just for pedestrians.”
The plan calls for an eight-foot wide bike path, physically segregated from vehicular traffic by a concrete barrier. Details about how cyclists will enter and exit this pathway from either end of the bridge have not yet been announced.
This change will also free up space for pedestrians on the existing walkway, located above the roadbed, which is currently shared by cyclists and people traveling on foot. The plan seems to put an end to several more ambitious proposals for adapting the bridge to service more cyclists and pedestrians.
Some 15,000 pedestrians and 3,600 cyclists compete with each other and souvenir vendors for as little as ten feet of width on the deck of the Brooklyn Bridge, creating an unpleasant (and potentially unsafe) bottleneck.
The most recent of these was the Reimagining Brooklyn Bridge design competition, sponsored by the City Council and the Van Alen Institute, a New York nonprofit architectural organization, dedicated to improving design in the public realm. The contest invited entrants to conceive ways of reclaiming car lanes for pedestrians and cyclists on the Brooklyn Bridge, while focusing on sustainability, social equity, and improving well-being in New York City’s public spaces. The winning proposal, “Brooklyn Bridge Forest” (from Scott Francisco and the Pilot Projects Design Collective) aimed to upgrade mobility while also acknowledging history. “The historic wooden walkway is expanded using planks sustainably sourced from a partner community in Guatemala that protects a 200,000-acre rainforest,” the proposal says, adding that, “a dedicated bike path and reclaimed traffic lane create new space for cyclists and low-carbon transit, while biodiverse ‘microforests’ at either end of the bridge serve as green spaces.”
The contest was sparked by the fact that, after 13 decades, the Brooklyn Bridge is in need of some surgical enhancement. A report released in 2017 by the City’s Department of Transportation (DOT) noted that the span’s pedestrian and cycling deck is the No. 1 tourist attraction in Brooklyn and among the top five in Manhattan. The report also documented that between 2008 and 2015, the number of pedestrians crossing the bridge each weekend almost tripled (reaching 15,000), while the tally of cyclists has more than doubled (topping out at 3,600).
This has led to a massive squeeze in which hordes of walkers and bikers compete for space as narrow as ten feet across — a 1.1-mile bottleneck made worse by the profusion of food and souvenir vendors who also set up shop on the bridge’s deck each day.
The “Brooklyn Bridge Forest” proposal from Scott Francisco and the Pilot Projects Design Collective would have transformed the bridge in a more ambitious way.
The competition followed a 2016 decision by the DOT to hire engineering firm AECOM to develop ideas about how to ease the Brooklyn Bridge’s chronic pedestrian logjam. The consultant’s primary recommendation was that DOT consider widening the deck, by partially covering the traffic lanes beneath with additional boardwalk. But the firm also suggested that DOT wait until an upcoming inspection of the bridge’s cables (the first in three decades), originally slated for 2019, (but not yet begun), to confirm that the structure can handle the additional weight. AECOM said it was highly confident that the bridge can bear the load of the new deck structure, but less certain that it could handle the heft of the additional thousands of people likely to be drawn onto the bridge by an expanded promenade.
A cutaway view of the Brooklyn Bridge Forest proposal illustrates its plan to repurpose traffic lanes on both side of the lower deck for pedestrians and cyclists.
In September, after the winner of the Reimagining Brooklyn Bridge design competition was designated, Community Board 1 (CB1) weighed in with a resolution urging the DOT to give cyclists and pedestrians, “more safe, designated space in which to commute and to enjoy the Brooklyn Bridge,” and recommending that, “the DOT should engage with the Brooklyn Bridge Forest team, study the impact of their plan on the environment and traffic patterns, versus not increasing pedestrian space.”
The resolution also asked DOT to return to CB1 for a discussion about implementing the Brooklyn Bridge Forest proposal, and that the agency should “add the creation of more pedestrian and cyclist space on the Brooklyn Bridge to their Master Plan.”
All of these possibilities appear now to have been superseded by the Mayor’s announcement of a dedicated bike lane on the Brooklyn Bridge.
Quit Your New Year’s Resolutions Early
And Indulge In Restaurant Week
No judgment for those of you who will want to drop those new year’s resolutions (or whatever other health kicks you’ve got going on) after reading this PSA:
NYC Restaurant Week launched this week, as hundreds of hot spots citywide have been lining up special delivery deals through February 28.
Promotions include lunch or dinner with a side for $20.21, two-course brunches and lunches ($26) and three-course dinners ($42), mostly Monday through Friday. (Some participating restaurants are honoring those prices on weekends.)
Dozens of restaurants south of Chambers Street plan to take part in NYC Restaurant Week, including Brooklyn Chop House, The Fulton, Crown Shy, Stone Street Tavern, The Dead Rabbit and more.
The Restaurant Week website lists several more tempting options to treat yourself — even if it means playing it a little fast and loose with your commitments to fitness. (We won’t tell.)
Chin Joins the Yang Gang
City Council Member Endorses Onetime Presidential Aspirant Who Favors Universal Income
Outgoing City Council member Margaret Chin (who is barred from running for reelection under term-limit laws) has endorsed Andrew Yang in his quest to be elected New York’s next mayor.
Mr. Yang rose from obscurity during the 2020 presidential campaign, during which he was a contender for the Democratic Party nomination. Polling strongly enough to qualify for seven Democratic debates, Mr. Yang showcased his signature proposal of a “universal basic income,” which would provide $1,000 per month to every adult American. To read more…
To the editor:
I was definitely going to vote for Yang but not if he’s not smart enough to know that it’s many of the poor people he’s trying to help that will use his universal income to try to win big at the casino to drag themselves out of their current situations.
And of course they will lose all their money and sit and wait for the next universal income payment. Poor people who can’t afford to gamble end up paying those taxes to the state. I’m seriously reconsidering my vote now.
To the editor:
I just read the article by Matthew Fenton on Andrew Yang’s proposal for a casino on Governor’s Island. (BroadsheetDAILY January 26)
I am so angry at Mr. Yang right now that I don’t even have words to describe it. A “casino” on that historic and beautiful island?? It will be ruined instantaneously. Let it be used for what it is now—like a Central Park for downtown.
Where you can truly relax and enjoy the beautiful views it offers that so many of us don’t have unless we commute to it. The Harbor View School is there along with so many other wonderful offerings at this time. I understand that the city needs money but there are other ways to get it. I’m comforted to hear that the Trust already put in place that casinos cannot be built there. Tell Yang he’s an idiot.
Atlantic City on the East River?
Mayoral Hopeful Proposes Casino Development on Governors Island
Former Democratic presidential aspirant and current City mayoral contender Andrew Yang says he has found a way to help lift New York’s economy out of the pandemic-triggered recession, as well as to help fund his universal basic income plan, which would offer $2,000 annual payments to about half a million poor New Yorkers: He wants to develop a casino on Governors Island.
In a story first reported by Politico, Mr. Yang on January 14 told interviewers on the Breakfast Club morning radio program, “one way I think we can generate money, and also make New York City more fun [is that] New York City should have its own casino on Governors Island.”
Hoping to Make Whirlybirds an Endangered Species
Nadler Sponsors Legislation to Make Lower Manhattan Heliopolis No More
U.S. Congressman Jerry Nadler, who represents Lower Manhattan in Washington, has introduced legislation that would impose stricter regulations on helicopter tour flights. Such flights have long been a source of quality-of-life concerns among Lower Manhattan residents, who have complained for years about the incessant buzz of engines passing directly outside their windows as often as three minutes apart.
Eyes to the Sky January 25 – February 7, 2020
Sirius, The Big Dog and Thor’s Helmet
Sparkling, blue-white Sirius the Dog Star, the brightest star in the night sky, rises in the east-southeast 20 minutes after sunset this evening and will rise simultaneously with sunset by month’s end.
As twilight deepens, Sirius – from the ancient Greek Seirios for “scorcher” or “glowing” – appears above the skyline leading one of winter’s most alluring constellations, Canus Major, or The Big Dog, into the sky.
January’s Full Wolf (or Hunger) Moon rises at 4:55pm on Thursday the 28th as the Sun sets on the opposite horizon at 5:02pm. Twilight gathers half an hour later.
Thor’s Helmet, NGC2359 Emissions nebula.
Astrophotography by Mario Motta, MD. All Rights Reserved
Doyenne of the Estuary Departs
HRPT President Who Oversaw Build-Out of Waterfront Park to Step Down
Madelyn Wils, president and chief executive officer of the Hudson River Park Trust (HRPT) for the past decade, will step down February 5. In a January 19 letter to the Trust’s board of directors, she noted, “we are well on our way towards accomplishing our shared goals of completing the Park’s construction while ensuring it is also on solid financial footing.” She also cited a broad range of achievements in the ongoing build-out of the Park, including the September opening of Pier 26, in Tribeca, the beginning of reconstruction of Pier 40 (near Houston Street), progress on the development of Little Island and a plan for the Gansevoort Peninsula (both near West 14th Street).
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TODAY IN HISTORY
1880 – W. C. Fields, American actor, comedian, and screenwriter (d. 1946)
757 – An Lushan, leader of a revolt against the Tang dynasty and emperor of Yan, is murdered by his own son, An Qingxu.
1790 – The first boat specializing as a lifeboat is tested on the River Tyne.
1834 – President Andrew Jackson orders first use of federal soldiers to suppress a labor dispute.
1845 – “The Raven” is published in The Evening Mirror in New York, the first publication with the name of the author, Edgar Allan Poe
1863 – The Bear River Massacre: A detachment of California Volunteers led by Colonel Patrick Edward Connor engage the Shoshone at Bear River, Washington Territory, killing hundreds of men women and children.
1886 – Karl Benz patents the first successful gasoline-driven automobile.
1916 – World War I: Paris is first bombed by German zeppelins.
1967 – The “ultimate high” of the hippie era, the Mantra-Rock Dance, takes place in San Francisco and features Janis Joplin, Grateful Dead, and Allen Ginsberg.
2002 – In his State of the Union address, President George W. Bush describes “regimes that sponsor terror” as an Axis of evil, in which he includes Iraq, Iran and North Korea.
1499 – Katharina von Bora, wife of Martin Luther; formerly a Roman Catholic nun (d. 1552)
1843 – William McKinley, 25th President of the United States (d. 1901)
1860 – Anton Chekhov, Russian playwright and short story writer (d. 1904)
1874 – John D. Rockefeller, Jr., businessman and philanthropist (d. 1960)
1880 – W. C. Fields, American actor, comedian, and screenwriter (d. 1946)
1905 – Barnett Newman, American painter and etcher (d. 1970)
1954 – Oprah Winfrey, American talk show host, actress, and producer, founded Harpo Productions
1820 – George III of the United Kingdom (b. 1738)
1899 – Alfred Sisley, French-English painter (b. 1839)
1956 – H. L. Mencken, American journalist and critic (b. 1880)
1963 – Robert Frost, American poet and playwright (b. 1874)
1969 – Allen Welsh Dulles, banker, lawyer, and diplomat, 5th Director of Central Intelligence (b. 1893)
2015 – Rod McKuen, American singer-songwriter and poet (b. 1933)
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