City Announces New Rule Prohibiting Vendors on City Bridges

The overcrowded pedestrian walkway on December 29, 2023. The ban of vendors on bridges aims to clear up walkway space to ease crowds and congestion like this. Image Credit: NYC DOT.

On January 3, 2023, the Department of Transportation announced new rules that restrict vending on city-owned bridges. Under the new rules, vendors will not be allowed to sell on pedestrian walkways, bike lanes on bridges and bridge approaches. The rule was made in part to address the excessive crowding on the Brooklyn Bridge.

The Brooklyn Bridge sees an average of 34,000 pedestrians on a fall weekend day, double the amount of visitors since 2021. The pedestrian walkway of the Brooklyn Bridge is only an average of 16 feet wide, but at multiple points is only five feet wide. Vendors, with tables, tents, umbrellas, merchandise, signs and carts, eat into that space and increase crowding on the pedestrian walkway. The City also had ongoing concerns about how the presence of the vendors and their equipment could be in the way in the event of an emergency response. 

While the City specifically cited the concerns about the Brooklyn Bridge in its publication of the final rule, the rule extends to all bridges under the jurisdiction of the New York City Department of Transportation. The city has engaged in multilingual outreach to work with vendors to advise them of the new rule and permitted locations for their operations. Signage has been added to the bridge to reflect the new rule. 

Mayor Eric Adams stated, “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. 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.”

Council Member Lincoln Restler stated, “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. We’re supportive of outreach and civil enforcement to make our bridge safer.”

Jessica Walker, president and CEO of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, stated, “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. 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.”

By: Veronica Rose (Veronica is the Editor of CityLand and a New York Law School graduate, Class of 2018.)



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