The Queensboro Bridge bike/ped path has been closed from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. for 16 of the last 24 months while ConEdison conducts electrical repair work. Currently, a six-week closure that began on May 21 is making nighttime trips especially difficult for working cyclists. Despite the regularity of the closures, DOT still hasn’t worked out a reasonable alternative for people who count on overnight access to the path.
When the closures began last spring, advocates called on DOT to make the bridge’s south outer roadway available for walking and biking during the closures. (Right now, however, the south outer roadway is also closed overnight.) Instead, people who bike over the bridge at night have to make do with a circuitous shuttle bus service or find another way home.
Rather than wait for the uncomfortable, time-consuming shuttle, Queens resident Steve Scofield has chosen the latter option. He takes the tram to Roosevelt Island, where he can bike home to Astoria.
“The shuttle bus, even with the best of intentions, it could add a good 45 minutes to an hour and a half to your trip, particularly if you’re the unfortunate person who just misses the shuttle bus, so your bike becomes the first one in and last one out,” Scofield said.
From his observations, Scofield said most of the people affected by the bike path closure appear to be working cyclists heading to or from their jobs.
Opening the south outer roadway to non-motorized transport would make sense even without the closures. The current bike/ped path, on the north outer roadway, gets uncomfortably crowded during people hours.
“The north outer roadway is getting a little bit scary during rush hours,” he said. “If you get two bikes trying to pass each other at the same time two are walking abreast, it just doesn’t work.”