Brooklyn Bridge gets new bike, pedestrian path plan

NEW YORK - AUGUST 25: A cyclist crosses

NEW YORK - AUGUST 25: A cyclist crosses the Brooklyn Bridge during the evening commute August 25, 2009 in New York City. Recent improvements in biking infrastructure have led to a 35 percent increase in bicycle commuting in the center of the city between 2007 and 2008. The Department of Transportation recently announced the completion of a three-year project that created 200 miles of bike lanes throughout the city with more scheduled to open next year. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images) (Credit: Getty Mario Tama)

Several New York City Council members want to double the width of an elevated path on the Brooklyn Bridge to accommodate pedestrians and cyclists who are increasingly using the bridge to commute from downtown Brooklyn to lower Manhattan.

The proposal, announced Tuesday, calls for the creation of a designated bike lane, which would occupy a quarter of the expanded space. The other three quarters would be reserved for pedestrians, council members said. Motorists using the roads below the elevated path would not be affected. Currently, pedestrians and cyclists share a two-lane path.

Each day, an average of 7,100 pedestrians and bicyclists cross the iconic bridge, according to the New York City Department of Transportation. On a nice day in May 2010, there were 15,000 pedestrians who walked across the bridge.

"On many days, the path is filled beyond capacity, creating an unsafe situation for both pedestrians and cyclists," said Brad Lander (D-Park Slope), who represents neighboring constituents who use the bridge.

Lander and his colleagues, Stephen Levin (D-Greenpoint) and Margaret Chin (D-Lower Manhattan) also announced a competition to design the proposed path.

The local lawmakers said the proposed expansion would cost a "significant" sum of money, but they did not say how they would pay for it.

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