Press Releases

January 3, 2024
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NYC DOT Announces New Public Safety Measures on Brooklyn Bridge to Promote Safe Travel for Pedestrians, Cyclists

New rule clarifies that vending is not allowed on city-owned bridges, returning space to New Yorkers and visitors for clear passage between boroughs

City conducting robust, multilingual community outreach to vendors before enforcement begins

NEW YORK – New York City Department of Transportation (NYC DOT) Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez, New York City Police Commissioner Edward Caban, and Department of Sanitation Commissioner Jessica Tisch announced today new measures to enhance public safety and pedestrian flow on the Brooklyn Bridge and other city-owned bridges.

On Wednesday, NYC DOT published new rules clarifying that vending on pedestrian walkways and bike lanes on city bridges and bridge approaches is not allowed, enhancing pedestrian safety, easing overcrowding, and promoting the safety and security of the bridges. The new rule was developed through careful multi-agency coordination and as pedestrian counts on the Brooklyn Bridge continue to rise, with an average of 34,000 pedestrians on an average fall weekend day, comparing to 17,000 in just 2021.

Crowding on the Brooklyn Bridge due to high pedestrian volumes and vending.
High pedestrian volumes on the Brooklyn Bridge on Friday, December 29, 2023

NYPD enforcement of the new rule will begin after robust vendor outreach.

“The Brooklyn Bridge is one of New York City’s most stunning gems. Tourists and New Yorkers alike deserve to walk across it and enjoy its beauty without being packed together like sardines or risking their safety,” said New York City Mayor Eric Adams. “That’s why we’re giving vendors fair warning: As of January 3rd, they won't be allowed to set up shop on pedestrian walkways or bike lanes on our bridges — giving New Yorkers the ability to use those public spaces safely and freely. We’re not going to allow disorder to continue in these cherished spaces.”

“Dubbed the 8th wonder of the world, the Brooklyn Bridge has beckoned for the world to cross it since it opened—which people do, every day, and in rapidly-increasing numbers. Average weekend pedestrian crossings have jumped over 15,000 since 2021,” said Deputy Mayor of Operations Meera Joshi. “Crowding is a crisis, and there is no reason pedestrians should have to jump down into the bike lane to just get across. We are grateful to the street vendors for working with us to find alternate locations that do not impede the safe flow of people.”

“New York commuters as well as the millions of people who visit our city each year should be able to enjoy the Brooklyn Bridge without impediments to safety and pedestrian mobility,” said NYC DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez. “These rules would make it safer and easier for pedestrians to travel across what’s considered America’s Eiffel Tower and take in the world-renowned view of New York Harbor.”

“Removing carts, tables, chairs, and other large obstacles liberates premium space along the narrow wooden promenade already shared by pedestrians and bicyclists, and allows the thousands of daily Brooklyn Bridge visitors to enjoy its architecture, design, and unparalleled views in a much safer manner,” said NYPD Commissioner Edward A. Caban. “Public safety will always be paramount on all of New York City’s river crossings, including this most historic of spans.”

“Visitors to the Brooklyn Bridge want to be able to walk safely - whether they're coming from around the block or around the world,” said Jessica Tisch, Commissioner, NYC Department of Sanitation. “This rule means one of the most beloved parts of our skyline will be cleaner, safer, and welcoming for both New Yorkers and tourists.”

“The new rules on the Brooklyn Bridge represent a positive step toward ensuring the safety and seamless movement of pedestrian traffic, creating a space where New Yorkers and visitors alike can enjoy some of the most iconic views the city has to offer, said Department of Veterans’ Services Commissioner James Hendon. “Recognizing that among the diverse group of vendors affected, some may be veterans, let’s view these new regulations as an opportunity to balance safety and the economic well-being of those who have worn the uniform.”

The width of the elevated pedestrian walkway of the Brooklyn Bridge averages 16 feet, though it varies along the bridge. At multiple locations the walkway is less than five feet wide. Vendors displaying and storing their wares, carts, tables, tents, tarps, canopies, coolers, and generators along the Brooklyn Bridge walkway impedes pedestrian traffic flow and pedestrians’ ability to safely exit the bridge.

The publication of the final rule follows multilingual outreach to advise vendors of permitted locations for their operations and a public comment period that demonstrated widespread support for the rule.

“The status quo of the Brooklyn Bridge walkways isn't tenable, it's far too narrow and overcrowded to continue without intervention,” said State Senator Andrew Gounardes. “I'm looking forward to working with NYCDOT, NYPD and DSNY to make sure that they work alongside the vendors to enact regulations that work for everyone and make this stretch safer and a better experience for pedestrians.”

“The Brooklyn Bridge has long been a pivotal landmark for New Yorkers and visitors alike. I am optimistic that the new rules clarifying where vendors can operate will keep everyone safe and reduce congestion,” said Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon. “The Brooklyn Bridge can continue to be a safe place for people to commute and travel.”

“Vendors deserve appropriate, designated spaces, but the walkway of the historic Brooklyn Bridge should remain clear for the safety of all. Thanks to new regulations by DOT, thousands of pedestrians crossing the bridge every day will have a much more enjoyable experience,” said City Councilmember Lincoln Restler. “We’re supportive of outreach and civil enforcements to make our bridge safer.”

“This new policy creates a safer, more regulated environment for street vendors to make an honest living in New York City,” said Rabah Belkebir, a member of the New York State Disabled Veterans Vendors Advisory Committee. “I value the administration’s commitment to improving safety for both vendors and pedestrians on the Brooklyn Bridge, and I appreciate the steps that have been taken to engage and support disabled veteran vendors as these new rules are being rolled out.”

“Safe public access on the Brooklyn Bridge should be an absolute priority,” said Randy Peers, president and CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. “Street vending on the bridge not only leads to unsafe and crowded conditions, it diminishes the aesthetic value of the landmark itself, a landmark that has historic significance both nationally and internationally.”

“We absolutely need designated spaces in our city where street vendors can lawfully operate, but it makes no sense to place them on our narrow, crowded bridges,” said Jessica Walker, president and CEO of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce. “The top priority across our bridge spans is to ensure that pedestrians, cyclists and motorists alike can move safely, quickly and freely to their destination.”

“With more pedestrians using the Brooklyn Bridge than ever before, maintaining safety on one of our city's most iconic thoroughfares is paramount,” said Regina Myer, president of Downtown Brooklyn Partnership. “This new measure to reduce commercial activity that impedes and endangers users of the Brooklyn Bridge walkway will ensure it remains welcoming for New Yorkers and tourists traveling between the boroughs. We applaud the city for taking extensive action to ensure the safety and smooth flow of pedestrian traffic into Downtown Brooklyn and adjacent neighborhoods.”

“A walk across the Brooklyn Bridge is an experience that thousands of travelers enjoy annually,” said New York City Tourism + Conventions President and CEO Fred Dixon. “We welcome the administration's efforts to ensure a safe and pleasant experience for New Yorkers and visitors alike.”