New Brooklyn Bridge Bike Striping:
Sure to Have Everybody Griping
During our morning run across the Brooklyn Bridge today, we got a quick ankle wash from a DOT crew power-washing the old center stripe off the wood planks of the shared pedestrian/bicycle promenade. Passing the bridge's Manhattan tower, we discovered that the workmen were busy replacing the fading center-stripe that's long been the Maginot line between angry, rapacious cyclists and clueless, meandering pedestrians crossing the famous span.
On any given day - especially summer weekends - a crowd of tourists and local commuters clog the south side of the pathway; mostly staying within their 50% of the 13 ft width. But invariably, as the pedestrian side gets maxed out with folks of varying gaits - many stopping for posed photos, or just generally meandering - walkers begin spilling into the bike lane. Some folks - apparently unfazed by the fact that thousands of others have dutifully crammed into the opposite lane - walk defiantly three and four abreast in the bikeway. And cyclists angrily swerve around them, muttering or shouting derisive comments as they pass.
For a second this morning, we though the DOT was acceding to the tangible pressure one feels when faced with a lane heaving with humanity sharing equal real estate with a bike lane mostly devoid of matter (pedestrians on the bridge probably outnumber cyclists by 100 to 1 on any given day). At first glance, the new striping gives the walking lane 15 or 20% more width than the bike lane(!)
But we paced it off, and cable-to-cable, both lanes are still around six and a half feet each - identical! We think there's a bit of social engineering going on here by the DOT: by painting an outside lane stripe on the north side, it appears that cyclists have much less room than the non-edged walking lane. Which - perhaps - will make pedestrians feel slightly superior. And having been awarded additional real estate in acknowledgment of their superiority, presumably they will acquiesce to the cyclists, allowing them to grovel within their skinny, inferior boundaries.
The DOT can play ignorant, maintaining that the outside lane stripe is only necessary on the bike side, where cyclists riding too close to the bridge cables are likely to get their handlebars hung up and have a wreck. And everyone (or more likely no one) will go home happy.