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Group Flies Banner Over Verrazano Bridge Anniversary to Call for Bike Lanes

By Nicholas Rizzi | November 21, 2014 4:40pm
50th Anniversary Verrazano Bridge Ceremony
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YouTube/Right of Way NYC

FORT WADSWORTH — Activists photo-bombed the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge's 50th birthday celebration with a banner calling for bicycle and pedestrian access to the bridge.

Right of Way paid less than $1,000 to hire a plane to circle around the bridge for 30 minutes reading "50 YRS & NO BIKE/PED PATHS? OPEN THE VERRAZANO NOW!" during the MTA's anniversary ceremony on Friday.

"South Brooklyn and Staten Island have been excluded from the boom in cycling infrastructure that is paying health and transportation dividends to other New York City neighborhoods and residents,” said Keegan Stephan, an organizer for the group said in a statement.

“Opening the Verrazano will create new vistas for nearby commuters, sporting enthusiasts and families while bringing tourist dollars to local businesses.”

The MTA marked the bridge's anniversary on Friday afternoon with a 50 cannon salute, a fireboat display and the unveiling of a new commemorative stamp.

Aside from the photo-bomb, the event was also protested by elected officials in Staten Island and Brooklyn who didn't show because of the recent proposed toll hike to $16.

"When it was announced during this anniversary week that another toll increase was looming, the juxtaposition of events was enough to snatch utter frustration from the jaws of fleeting pride," Borough President James Oddo said in a statement.

"I just don’t think I can stand there and celebrate any aspect of this institution and keep a straight face."

Advocates started a push to add a bike and pedestrian path on the bridge in 2012 and held a rally in October to call on the MTA to add it to its five-year capital plan.

In December, the MTA awarded a $2.7 million, three-year contract to engineering firm Parsons Brinckerhoff to study the ability to put the path on the bridge. The agency said the study is in the early stages and will share the findings with the public.