New York City's mayor has revealed "radical" plans to turn vehicle lanes into cycling paths on two bridges across the East River and build five bicycle streets across the city in response to the pandemic.
Improved cycle routes are part of the city's plans to help the city recover from coronavirus by investing in public health.
Historic bridges to have cycle paths
The scheme, called Bridges for the People, was unveiled on 29 January as part of Mayor Bill de Blasio's State of the City 2021 address.
"The Brooklyn Bridge (above) and the Queensboro Bridge are iconic and deeply intertwined in the daily lives of countless New Yorkers," said De Blasio.
"Now, it's time to bring them into the 21st century and embrace the future with a radical new plan."
Cars will be banned from the innermost lane of the Manhattan-bound side of the 152-year-old Brooklyn Bridge, which will be turned into a two-way cycle path.
This path will be protected from traffic, and the existing walkway will become pedestrian-only. Currently, foot and bike traffic has to share.
On the 112-year-old Queensboro Bridge, the outer road heading north will be turned into a two-way cycle lane and the southbound outer road will be given over to pedestrians. Construction to create the cycle lane and pedestrian-only lane will begin this year.
"Converting car lanes into bike lanes on two of our most important bridges is a giant leap forward for New York City," said campaign group Transportation Alternatives.
"We are thrilled that Mayor de Blasio has taken up our Bridges 4 People campaign with his Bridges for the People plan."
Five Bike Boulevards will prioritise cyclists
The mayor also pledged to build five so-called Bike Boulevards in 2021 – streets where bicycle traffic will have priority. He promised these roads will feature "unique design elements" to slow traffic and protect cyclists.
Open Streets, where roads were closed to vehicle traffic to give city residents more space to socialise and exercise in an open-air setting, will be kept even when the need for social distancing is over.
"While we leave the rest of the pandemic behind, Open Streets will become a permanent part of our landscape," said the mayor. "The Department of Transportation will also open applications for new streets."
Cities around the world have embraced cycling in response to the coronavirus pandemic, with cycle-friendly routes opening up in London, Paris, Berlin, Milan and Bogata.
Earlier this month New York's governor Andrew Cuomo confirmed plans to turn a police vehicle compound on a pier in the Hudson River into a waterfront public park.