NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The city’s Department of Transportation is taking steps to ease congestion on the Brooklyn Bridge.
Not car congestion, but people congestion.
As CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer explained, traffic on the bridge has become something of a nightmare, but it’s not the cars that are producing the latest transportation headache, it’s the pedestrians, the cyclists, and yes, the vendors selling all manner of tourist tchotchkes that are creating congestion.
Tour guide Marc Samuels said it’s gotten bad.
“I am on this bridge about twice a day. Over the course of a year, I have witnessed two, three collisions between pedestrians and cyclists and I;m sure there’s much more than that,” he said.
The numbers are quite mind-boggling.
There’s been a 275 percent increase in weekend pedestrian traffic since last year. That’s 32,453 people on the bridge each weekend, a 104 percent increase in the number of people on bicycles in the last 10 years.
The mix of speeding bikers and pedestrians can create havoc.
“We’ve just been going down the bridge shouting, ‘excuse me’ the whole way,” Anna said.
That’s why the Department of Transportation is considering building a separate protected bike lane, possibly even widening the pedestrian walkway.
“In the last decade, the growth has been phenomenal. It’s now the largest tourist attraction in New York City,” DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said.
The biggest question is a weighty one; just how much extra weight the 134-year-old iconic structure can hold.
Trottenberg said the cables have to be inspected to see if new construction is possible, and if so, how much.
“They were last inspected in the 1980s,” she said. “That will help us make a decision about how much more weight the bridge can support.”
In the meantime, DOT is considering some other things including a new approach structure from the Manhattan side, and new rules that could limit or move vendors.
“This is my job. Like you have a job, you come to work every day, the police come to work every day, what do you expect,” one vendor said.
It’s going to take two years to inspect the bridge cables.
One thing the department has ruled out is creating a new bike lane on the vehicle level of the bridge which they said would increase traffic backups.