New York City’s Department of Transportation (DOT) announced a ban on street vendors on walkways and bike lanes of city bridges, including the Brooklyn Bridge, starting in 2024.
As per the department’s directive, vendors are required to vacate these areas by January 2nd, with enforcement beginning on January 3rd.
This decision is intended to enhance safety for pedestrians on what Mayor Eric Adams describes as one of the city’s “most stunning gems.”
Adams said on Friday, December 29th, “Tourists and New Yorkers alike deserve to walk across it and enjoy its beauty without being packed together like sardines or risking their safety. We’re not going to allow disorder to continue in these cherished spaces.”
The ban is a part of the city’s broader measures to regulate vending in pedestrian areas and bike lanes across all city bridges.
DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodríguez said on Friday, “The Brooklyn Bridge has been called America’s Eiffel Tower, and these rules will make sure millions of New Yorkers and visitors can safely enjoy [it].”
Rodríguez noted that the Brooklyn Bridge’s pedestrian traffic is increasing, making the situation more “challenging.”
The Brooklyn Bridge, a popular spot for vendors selling various items, from novelty items to food, attracts large foot traffic, with over 34,000 pedestrians on a typical fall weekend.
The city argues that the presence of vendors disrupts pedestrian flow and poses safety hazards.
Vendors like MD Rahman, with 15 years of experience on the Manhattan side of the bridge, expressed distress over the ban, worrying about its impact on his family. “I’m feeling very bad,” Rahman stated, concerned about his two children and elderly mother.
Military veteran and licensed vendor Tyrone Lopez also opposed the ban, highlighting its unfairness to veterans who comply with licensing rules.
Conversely, Jessica Walker, President of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, supported the city’s decision. She advocated for designated vendor spaces but not on city bridges.
The Department of Sanitation, responsible for enforcing street vending regulations, reported issuing 240 violations on the Brooklyn Bridge between April and November.
Mohamed Attia, managing director of the Street Vendor Project, shared his disappointment, revealing that vendors had proposed collaborating with officials to designate safe vending spaces on the bridge.
The city has begun distributing multilingual fliers to notify vendors of the impending ban, with enforcement set to start on January 3rd.