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Bicyclists Vent About Bridge Barricade

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DOT image, via Gothamist.

There’s been a lot of talk in the last couple of weeks about the new concrete barrier being built at the base of the Williamsburg Bridge.  Gothamist was first to publish this image from the Department of Transportation, showing what the Delancey Street median at Clinton Street will look like when construction is completed early next year. This morning, the Daily News weighs in, detailing concerns from cyclists worried that the new design could be deadly.

As we first reported back in June, the new barricade is being paid for with anti-terrorism dollars and is designed to prevent cars from driving onto the bridge.  But the project will also include a curved fence directing bicyclists onto Clinton Street (and away from Delancey).

Bike advocates are concerned that bicyclists coming off of the bridge will crash into the concrete barricade. As Gothamist reported, they are also displeased that the DOT is not directly addressing the dangers on Delancey itself:

“It’s not clear what problem the DOT is trying to solve with their fence,” Transportation Alternatives‘ Joseph Ferris tells us. “In our opinion, the big problem on the Manhattan-side of the Williamsburg Bridge is the traffic on Delancey Street—it’s one of the most dangerous streets in New York City. This spring and summer at least one pedestrian and one cyclist have been killed on Delancey, and between 2008 and 2010, 134 walkers and bicyclists were struck.

Streetsblog added, in a story posted earlier this week:

Helping cyclists find the safest route off the bridge, even nudging them towards that route, is all well and good, but it’s likely that many cyclists will still end up on Delancey. “People want to take the most direct route to where they’re going,” said Caroline Samponaro, the director of bicycle advocacy for Transportation Alternatives. “Even though there are currently markings sending people to use Clinton Street, people continue to use Delancey Street.” And even if every cyclist detoured onto Clinton, the wide expanse of Delancey would remain a mortal threat to pedestrians. A safety fix for Delancey itself remains necessary, with or without the latest construction at the bridge.

In the same article, Streetsblog published the following statement provided by the DOT:

“This railing is being installed to guide bikers to the lanes on Clinton Street – where they can connect to east-west routes – before they reach the crosswalk. A similar design has been in place on the Manhattan side of the Manhattan Bridge for several years and has proven very effective at separating bikes coming off the bridge from pedestrians on the local sidewalk. The concrete barriers are being installed to prevent unauthorized vehicle access to the pedestrian and bike path, and similar steps have been taken on the other side of the bridge and at other East River bridges. Countdown signals were recently installed along Delancey to help pedestrians cross the street safely, while a network of bike lanes has been installed on Suffolk and Clinton streets (north-south), Rivington and Stanton streets (east-west), and on Grand Street (east-west), providing convenient, direct and safer access to and from the bridge for bike riders.”

In our previous coverage, we noted that the 7th Precinct and Community Board 3 asked the DOT to consider other safety measures on Delancey, including narrowing the street. A DOT spokesman told us, “There are no plans at this time to make changes to the roadway width.”

Next week, elected officials, bicycle advocates, community leaders and representatives from city agencies are meeting to discuss safety concerns on Delancey Street. The meeting was organized by State Senator Daniel Squadron.


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  1. It is hard to tell from this model, but it seems to me this design fails to address the problem of bicycles coming fast off the bridge and endangering pedestrians.

    I hope the Lo-Down will inform us of the time and location of the meeting organized by Senator Squadron.

  2. We’re told the meeting is not open to the public, but we’re hoping to get a briefing when it’s over. I don’t believe the plan was ever presented to CB3’s Transportation Committee, but will check to make sure.

  3. As a bicyclist that lives in the neighborhood, and I regularly walk across that exact intersection: what he said.

    I mean clearly the DOT just does not get it in so many ways that it can only be explained as a galaxy-sized hole where a clue used to be that guides its actions at that intersection and along that stretch of Delancey.

    But the cyclists on that very spot are some of the reddest-of-neck, hostile, self-enfranchised brats one could encounter…their sense of entitlement is exceeded only by…wait for it…the motorists who are their bane.

    Is irony dead yet?

  4. Hard to pass judgement without trying it first.  Seems the bikers ride fast down the bridge and if they did not know about this barrier could be hurt hitting it.  Bottom line is people ride too fast in that area considering it has pedestrians too.  I’ll check it out.

  5. Clearly the solution is a bike speed limit and a sensor that detects if bikes are speeding off the bridge.  If they are going too fast, the sensor would trip a giant catapult to fling the offending rider back to the Brooklyn side before he can run over Grandma trying to cross Delancey.

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