What is Verrazzano Summer Streets?
Verrazzano Summer Streets is opening access to a lane of the Verrazzano Bridge for pedestrians and cycling this summer.
Adjust the slider above to see what the entrance to the Verrazzano looks like now, and what it could look like in a bike- and pedestrian-friendly future.
When would this happen?
Weekends in July and August, plus the three-day Labor Day weekend. However, if the twice-a-week setups aren’t practical, then the lane should open to pedestrians and cyclists for all of July and August, and through the three-day Labor Day Weekend.
No, I mean, what year will this start?
No reason this can’t start in 2019!
All across New York City, there is demand for non-automobile access to the major crossings, including the George Washington Bridge, which spans the Hudson River and is as far from Downtown/Midtown as the Verrazzano is. The MTA — the agency that inherited the Triborough Bridge & Tunnel Authority from the famously anti-pedestrian and anti-bike planner Robert Moses — controls the key crossings between outer boroughs, yet is an extreme outlier in the region for providing pedestrian and bike access.
Where would this go?
This proposal recommends repurposing the right Staten Island-bound lane on the lower level, as it has the easiest access points on both sides of the bridge.
Great idea, kid, but let’s get real — this will cause more car traffic!
Nope, and here’s why! In the past two years, there have been two key developments that have opened up traffic flow on the bridge far more than repurposing a lane will hurt:
- No more toll barriers: For most of the history of the bridge, motorists traveling to Staten Island had to come to a full stop at the toll booths. This created a significant congestion point. In 2017, the bridge switched to 100% electronic tolling with no stops, significantly alleviating congestion, far more than an extra lane of traffic could. But in 2017, motorists also got…
- HOV Lane (an extra lane of traffic): A 13th lane was recently added to the bridge for buses and cars with three or more people. So during peak afternoon hours, there will still be six lanes of car traffic going to Staten Island, just as there always has been — this time without stopping for the toll. And remember, there aren’t even six lanes of highway that feed into the bridge from the Brooklyn side.
Where will pedestrians and bikes enter and exit the bridge?
There are two easy access points on the Brooklyn side requiring minor and inexpensive construction:
- 92nd Street and Gatling (to accommodate turning buses, a curb would have to be reshaped and a streetlight would need to be relocated a few feet), and
- The north end of J.J. Carty Park (this would require a short connector built between the park and the on-ramp concrete barrier).
On the Staten Island side, there is a pre-existing access point into Fort Wadsworth that can be used to connect pedestrians and cyclists along Marshall Road to New York Avenue.