Bridge Bike Lane Bollarama


At first, when I saw the new bollards at both ends of the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridge bike lanes, I thought the Department of Homeland Security was celebrating Bike Month in its own special way. Then I read on Gothamist that we actually owe these tokens of police-state paranoia to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Sing with me, to the tune of “Happy Birthday”:

Happy Bike Month, New York! Happy Bike Month, New York! We hope you enjo-oy your obstacle course!

The question for tricyclists is, will we fit through? At first I was certain we wouldn’t. But I figured I ought to check. So I brought a tape measure along on my commute from Brooklyn yesterday, and took some measurements. Here’s what I found:

Neither a Maximus nor a Main Street stands a chance of crossing the Manhattan Bridge, on which the width limit for a non-gas-guzzler is now 40.5 inches.

Alas, never again!

Alas, never again!

On the Brooklyn Bridge, however, it’s a bit of a nail-biter: A Main Street – at 50 inches – definitely won’t make the new 48-inch cut. But a Maximus, according to the manufacturer’s specifications, is only 47.25 inches wide. (I turned to the official specs because the placement of the wheels in relation to the body makes it difficult to get a precise answer by measuring the vehicle itself.) So maybe, just maybe, RR’s trikes could squeak through. We won’t know for sure till we try it out.



High pedestrian volumes on the Brooklyn Bridge make it far less serviceable for triking than the Manhattan. But hey, if it’s the only option, we’ll take it.

Of course, I understand that NYC law has been interpreted as prohibiting pedicabs from crossing bridges, even when they’re without passengers. But the law does not restrict freight trikes from crossing bridges, and that’s my primary concern – whether the bollarama will make it impossible for RR to haul freight between Brooklyn and Manhattan. (I haven’t yet investigated what’s up with the Williamsburg Bridge – for most of RR’s purposes, it’s the least convenient route over the river.)

On a related note, I can’t help but wonder precisely which “unauthorized vehicles” the bollarama is meant to guard against. It won’t keep electric bikes or moped-like vehicles out of the bridge bike lanes, as both are far more obnoxious than they are wide. Is the DOT attempting to make it physically impossible for pedicabs to cross the bridges, unless they’re encrypted in a gas-guzzling truck? What’s going on here? I can’t say I feel any safer biking across the bridges now…just a bit more big brothered.