Dangers of Walking Across the Queensboro Bridge
Posted on July 31, 2022 in Firm News
The shared pedestrian bike path on the Queensboro Bridge has New York City pedestrians fearing for their lives. A recent article by Streetsblog highlighted several serious safety concerns for walking commuters on the two-way shared pathway, increasing pedestrian accidents and causing people to skip walking across the bridge altogether.
As a bystander, you’d never think that the shared pedestrian bike lane on the Queensboro Bridge was built with pedestrians in mind at all. On any given day, thousands of bikes, scooters, e-bikes, mopeds, and other motorized contraptions swerve around each other on the narrow lanes traveling back and forth between Long Island City and Midtown Manhattan. Pedestrians can be seen hugging close to the sides (if they dare to walk the path at all), trying to avoid getting hit by the mass of speeding vehicles around them.
Streetsblog interviewed multiple tourists and New York City residents about the traffic on the pathway, both of whom were confused about whether pedestrians were allowed on the bridge based on the amount of activity. In May 2022, the Department of Transportation reported that more than 168,961 people crossed the Queensboro Bridge shared path with the month, a 42% increase from May 2021.
In the last two years, injuries and accidents on the Queensboro Bridge path have also increased. According to NYPD crash reports, nine serious bicycle crashes were reported between 2019 and 2022 compared to only three between 2016 to 2018; in the same period, the number of moped accidents rose from zero to seven.
Unfortunately, the crash statistics do not include the bumps, bruises, and host of accidents that go unreported every day across a city as busy as NYC. The statistics also do not include the number of pedestrian injuries caused on the Queensboro Bridge, not that they haven’t occurred.
There’s no disputing that the shared pedestrian bike lane on the Queensboro Bridge is crowded; that’s one of the main safety issues for all who use the path. However, a few other risk factors make this two-way lane even more dangerous than others across NYC.
The Queensboro Bridge shared lane is 11-feet-wide and expected to accommodate thousands of cyclists, pedestrians, and other travelers daily. Each side only has 5.5-feet to navigate, which is barely enough room for one bicycle to ride safely, let alone leave room to share with pedestrians. The path size alone goes against the DOT’s standards for two-way bike lanes, as noted by Streetsblog, which require a minimum of four feet in each direction or total width of at least 8-feet per lane.
Aside from not having enough room on the path, there is a deadly stoplight at the 60th Street entrance between First and Second Street. Streetsblog noted that drivers frequently run the traffic light where commuters enter and exit the pedestrian bike path. The timing of the traffic light, requiring path commuters to wait a full minute before they can cross, also builds up congestion, making matters even worse.
It’s illegal for mopeds to ride on the Queensboro pedestrian and bike paths– that doesn’t mean they don’t. Moped riders interviewed by Streetsblog reported choosing to ride on the path to avoid the deadly conditions of sharing the road with cars and trucks. There are approximately 160,000 vehicles that cross the Queensboro Bridge daily, most at highway speeds. While moped riders are looking to protect themselves from accidents by riding away from the car lanes, they are putting everyone who uses the path for walking or biking at risk.
Pedestrians deserve a safe pathway to commute across the Queensboro Bridge, away from motorized vehicles and a swarm of racing bikes. While the City is aware of the lane’s dangers, there doesn’t seem to be a quick solution.
In January 2021, Mayor de Blasio’s administration announced a plan to create a pedestrian-only pathway on the Queensboro Bridge, converting an outer lane of vehicle traffic on the south side of the bridge. The currently shared route would become a two-way bike-only lane, allowing cyclists and pedestrians the freedom to commute safely at their own pace.
Unfortunately, NYC commuters utilizing this treacherous path will have to wait slightly longer for change than expected. In February 2022, Mayor Adams announced a delay in the plan to make transportation safer and sustainable for the Queensboro Bridge, halting the deadline to start the pedestrian-only lane conversion. Recent news sources reported that pedestrians may have to wait until the end of 2023, possibly 2024, before a safe path across the Queensboro Bridge. So far, no explanations from Mayor Adam’s administration as to why the delay of the pedestrian lane has occurred have been released.
Pedestrians struck by bicycles or motor vehicles can sustain severe and fatal injuries. At the law firm of Pazer, Epstein, Jaffe & Fein, we have been fighting for New York City accident victims for over 60 years. If you or a loved one has sustained a serious injury due to the negligence of another, our experienced trial attorneys are here to help.
Contact us for a free case evaluation via our online form or call 212-227-1212 to speak to one of our attorneys.