Fixed gear: New bus racks let cyclists take bikes over Verrazano for first time

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Soon, straphangers will be able to do what only car owners previously could — get a bicycle over the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is piloting a program to let cyclists strap their bikes to the front of buses crossing the half-century-old span connecting Brooklyn and bucolic Staten Island starting Sept. 6.

Pedestrians and cyclists are not allowed to cross the bridge, meaning only drivers with bike racks could get a two-wheeler from Bay Ridge to Staten Island. Bicycle advocates such as Transportation Alternatives are excited about the news, but say the authority still has a long road to travel before the bridge is truly accessible for everyone.

“We consider this a first step, but its not a replacement for pedestrian and bike access,” said Greg Mihailovich, the pro-peddling group’s Staten Island organizer. “MTA is acknowledging a growing need for bike consideration, especially because New York City is the largest city not to have this consideration. It’s great that New York is finally catching up.”

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is outfitting 38 buses on the S53 and S93 lines — which connect Bay Ridge and the rugged shores of Shaolin via the bridge — with bicycle racks that can ferry two cycles per trip over the Narrows. The racks will be free to use for any fare-paying rider, according to a statement from the authority.

If the project is a success, the transportation authority will expand it to other bridges, a Metropolitan Transportation Authority higher-up said.

“A future expansion will depend on results of this pilot and will most likely focus on routes that cross bridges,” said Darryl C. Irick, who heads the authority’s bus division.

Helping bikers over rivers is key, but transit advocates would like to see the racks come to all city busses if the authority can swing it, Mihailovich said.

“Spans are the pressing issue, but this works in other cities having racks on the entire fleet,” Mihailovich said. “But I understand there’s logistical considerat­ions.”

Advocates have been pushing for pedestrian and bike access to the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge practically since it was built.

The initial plans for the cross-Narrows span actually included a bike path, according to Gay Talese — the journalist who literally wrote the book on the bridge — but urban planning juggernaut Robert Moses put the kibosh on that idea.

Activists renewed their efforts in the 1990s, spurring the Department of City Planning to conduct a 1997 study that found a bike and pedestrian pathway was not only feasible — it wouldn’t displace any traffic lanes.

But just getting onto the bridge presents its own hurdle. A tangle of approach ramps that the bridge’s own engineering firm described as a “spaghetti pile” doesn’t present an easy ascent for cyclists.

For now, Staten Islanders — whose borough boasts the fewest miles bike lanes — are gearing up to take advantage of Brooklyn’s extensive bicycle network while they soak in some local flavor, said one resident of the Rock.

“I, for one, cannot wait to visit Bay Ridge as soon as possible,” said cyclist and Staten Islander Meredith Sladek. “I’d love to get the Brooklynite’s view of Staten Island and ride along the Greenway. There’s a pub called the Bean Post that I like in particular.”

Reach reporter Max Jaeger at or by calling (718) 260–8303. Follow him on Twitter @JustTheMax.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Sean F from Bensonhurst says:
Excellent. Now the already behind-schedule buses can be even more behind schedule as bikers take the time necessary to load and unload their bikes. Since I doubt very many people will take advantage of this service, it probably won't be huge problem, but it will have an impact. If it does become popular, bikers will have to stand and wait for the next bus as buses pass by with their racks already full.

At least this way, the bikerack money sort of benefits the riders, and not into the pockets of the MTA Board. It's not as if they would have spent the bikerack money on something more generally useful to the system, like station improvements or bus maintenance that would reduce emissions.
Sept. 4, 2015, 8:57 am
a better place from Brooklyn says:
This is a great idea that I've thought should be implemented for the longest.

Like "take the Train to the Plane", now we have "take the Bike to the Bus" (or Street Car when we get them back)!

It's a no brainier and complements/increases the benefits/use of mass transportation. I may even consider using the bus after my 30 yrs in Brooklyn!

That is if I don't move out with all the over population that's happening - too many people, yuck!!!
Sept. 4, 2015, 9:21 am
Jim from Grreenpoint says:
so if no place on the bus you can get half price seating out side.....
Sept. 4, 2015, 11:30 am
old time brooklyn from slope says:
Jim - you can get two more on the handle bars
Sept. 4, 2015, 4:21 pm
John from Newkirk Plaza says:
How is the bus driver supposed to handle bikes attached to the front? Will he/she have to mediate possible disputes between rival claimants? Will the driver have to monitor what is attached---you know someone will try to attach a shopping cart to the front.
Idea Bad. Idea Bad.
Sept. 5, 2015, 10:45 pm
Meeka from Queens says:
haha, bay ridge - where everyone who thinks their tough lives...
Sept. 6, 2015, 7:03 pm
Jimmy from Flatbush says:
Wow... We really are a special special little town aren't we? Sean and John, have a little faith and shove the doom and gloom back up your backsides. Bicycle racks are easy to use, quick to load, and unproblematic is every city that has them. Or are New Yorkers really so dumb that they can't handle something everyone else on earth can handle?
Sept. 6, 2015, 7:27 pm

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