Williamsburg Bridge, New York, NY
The Williamsburg Bridge is the most bicycled bridge in North America. During the last 25 years, bike traffic over the bridge has grown 800%. Originally built at the turn of the 20th century, the bridge connects the Lower East Side of Manhattan with Williamsburg, Brooklyn. In 1991, the bridge was closed to bicycling because the structure was in danger of collapsing. Through the ‘90s, New York City’s Department of Transportation invested more than $600 million in the bridge to make it safe again, including $6.5 million in improvements to the bike and pedestrian path. Effective advocacy by the local group Transportation Alternatives helped make this happen.
Then in 2002, the city made another round of major renovations to the path, removing 83 stairs on the Manhattan side that were barriers to cyclists who couldn’t carry their bikes. Subsequently, use skyrocketed from 792 cyclists/day in 2001 to 5,200 cyclists/day in 2009. The city is now working on building safer connecting bike routes to the bridge as part of its plan to double biking between 2007 and 2015. Recently, Bicycling magazine dubbed New York one of the most improved U.S. cities for cycling. During the past decade, the city’s bicycle network expanded five-fold, while bike injuries fell 44%.
• 1.4 miles long
• South path opened June 1998, North path opened Dec. 2002
• 5,200 bike users/day
• City population: 8.4 million
• NYC residents save $19 billion every year by using alternative transportation
• Connects areas underserved by transit
• The average car driven into Manhattan causes a total of 3.26 hours of delays to other drivers, the equivalent of $160/day.
• If 10% of NYC commuters started biking to work once a week, it would save 120 million pounds of CO2 per year.
• 595 jobs created
• Bridge renovations that included bike path improvements were funded through the Highway Bridge Program, an earmark, and the Surface Transportation Program (STP)
• South path cost $6.5 million; North path cost $10.5 million
View and download a PDF of the project.