As COVID-wary Brooklynites take up biking en masse to avoid crowded public transportation, a cadre of New York State legislators are looking to open the Verrazzano Bridge and other city spans to pedal-pushers — including by introducing legislation in Albany that would push the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to create cycling spaces on bridges overseen by the state agency.
“Despite the rapid growth of bicycling in New York City over the last decade, the MTA has done little to improve bicycle access at its stations and prohibits cycling on its bridges altogether,” said Bronx state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi in a Monday statement. “As more New Yorkers have turned to cycling and outdoor spaces throughout the pandemic, we must continue to make our communities welcoming to cyclists and pedestrians and encourage residents to use clean forms of transportation.”
The bill, which was simultaneously introduced in the state’s lower chamber by Queens Assemblymember Jessica González-Rojas, would create an advisory committee within the MTA tasked with drawing up a plan for better bike and pedestrian access on the agency’s bridges and public transportation stations.
The potential 13-member panel would be appointed by the governor and legislative leaders, and would also weigh in on the Authority’s capital projects and capital planning.
One southern Brooklyn bike advocate hailed the move as an important first step in getting transit honchos to the table, after years of MTA bigs resisting bike access on the agency’s overpasses.
“For Brooklynites looking to bike over the Verrazzano to Staten Island or the Marine Parkway Bridge to the Rockaways, MTA leadership has been more than indifferent — they’ve been aggressively hostile, using arbitrary and false safety claims to obscure their own failures and last-place status,” said Brian Hedden, a co-founder of the advocacy group Bike South Brooklyn. “This bill will be an important first step in catching the MTA up with its peers, and ending the leadership’s pointless obstruction.”
The organization has lobbied the MTA since 2019 to close one of the Verrazzano Bridge’s 13 car lanes and turn it into a cycling and pedestrian path.