Vendors will be prohibited from Brooklyn Bridge starting this week

I saw this on CBS News’ website, but now most of the outlets have covered it: as of Jan. 3, Wednesday, the city will (somehow) prohibit vending on the walkways and bikeways of city bridges — and that includes the Brooklyn Bridge. (Not sure that this sort of thing goes on at any other bridge.) Of course the vending has always been prohibited, so I am not exactly sure what has changed other than political will.

Back in September, the DOT told me this: “Vending is restricted on the elevated pedestrian walkway and bike lane on the Brooklyn Bridge. NYC DOT continues to work with partner agencies to address vending issues and maintain pedestrian flow.”

The NYPD is responsible for enforcement. From the police press office also in September: “The 5th and 84th Precinct Commanders are aware of complaints regarding vendors along the Brooklyn Bridge and continue to work to address the condition. This year the NYPD has participated in joint operations with the Department of Sanitation, Department of Consumer And Worker Protection and FDNY to address unlicensed vendors. These operations include an educational component in addition to enforcement. Additionally, precinct officers conduct regular vendor enforcement along the bridge.”

CBS had this statement from Mayor Adams: “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.”

And this statement from DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez: “These rules will make it safer and easier for pedestrians to enjoy the Brooklyn Bridge and take in the world-renowned view of New York Harbor.”

Not only are the vendors crowding the walkway for pedestrians, but they also set up structures that are near-permanent. Some of the vendors even sleep there, according to J., who has kept an eye on this issue for months.

There is still discussion about where the vendors should be able to operate legally. I have never understood why they cannot be given a piece of the plaza east of City Hall Park, right at the base of the bridge where the breakdancers set up. That seems to be tourist central anyway…



  1. I heard this last week and was very happy. It was getting really bad near the holidays with vendors using generators to work heaters and tables all across the lanes. I will wait and see how this will be enforced.

  2. I thought the Sanitation Dept is now responsible for vendor enforcement? Every time i write a complaint to 311 about the illegal counterfeit vendors, I get a response that the complaint will be forwarded to the sanitation department for review within a few days. Of course, nothing changes.

    Although recently police have been around semi-enforcing against the counterfeit bazaar. I say semi-enforcing since the vendors are still there, furtively selling their junk out of carts and bags, but rarely laying it out on the sidewalk.

    See here:
    “March 20, 2023: Mayor Adams Re-establishes the Office of Street Vendor Enforcement within the Department of Sanitation.”

    We can thank our former Council Margaret Chin for this “progress”:

    “The progressive behind the illegal street hawkers clogging NYC streets”

  3. The city needs to articulate a policy for illegal vending in public space for all to see. Things started to get completely out of control since Covid. Restaurants, counterfeit goods vendors, souvenir shops in Chinatown and Little Italy as well as Brooklyn Bridge have all spilled out onto public space with impunity. It’s like living in a besieged city with no one in charge.
    Now that Covid is no longer a threat, people whose businesses benefited from this free for all don’t want the party to end. As if they have been ‘grandfathered in’.
    Last Sunday the police didn’t show for a few hours on Broadway and the vendors came roaring back, as if they had never left.( they had been around the whole time, just without their spread, soliciting sales from passersby right in front of the police) This reflects the lack of seriousness in holding illegal vendors accountable, playing cat and mouse is a waste of tax dollars and ineffective.
    Of course there can be more than meets the eye. I did see a couple cops fist bumping one of the Africans just a couple of days before the comeback, maybe their subsequent return wasn’t random at all?