Today I took a ride to New Jersey, along the Palisades and through Jersey City, Bayonne and Staten Island. From the Island, I took the ferry to Manhattan and cycled up to the 59th Street Bridge, and home.
I've done this ride any number of times before. However, along the way, I took a little detour on Randall's Island.
Earlier this year, I'd read that the city planned to build a pedestrian/bicycle bridge from the Island to the Bronx. Right now, it's possible to use the walkways on the Triborough (RFK) Bridge. That's exactly what I did today. However, those walkways have their own perils for cyclists.
The Triborough is really three spans that lead into Randall's Island. One such span, which is close to where I live, connects Queens with the Island. This span is the most-photographed (for good reason) of the three, and many people think it is the Triborough. Then there are spans from the Island to Manhattan (at 125th Street) and the Bronx.
Actually, the Bronx spur is bookended by walkways on its east and west sides. As those paths approach the Island, they zig and zag like Alpine slalom courses enclosed by concrete walls. Then they converge at a single steep ramp that ends abruptly at a curve in the island's main road.
The bridge would eliminate those ramps (as well as the stairs one must ascend in order to access the walkway to and from Queens) and instead would be continuation of one spur of the island's mostly-complete bike path.
I am eager to see the bridge completed, not only for making a part of my ride more pleasant. It is seen as a vital link between the paths and fields of Randall's Island and a greenway that's supposed to be built in the South Bronx.
Some residents of that neighborhood walk across the Triborough, but many more drive or take buses to play soccer, softball and other sports and games, have picnics and barbecues, or to fish, on the Island. In addition to making a bike ride easier and more pleasant for folks like me, I would hope that the bridge would also entice some Bronx residents to walk or ride bikes to the Island.
The South Bronx part of Asthma Alley. Actually, it's the buckle in New York's asthma belt: The neighborhood's 10451,10453, 10454, 10455 and 10474 ZIP codes have the highest juvenile asthma rates in the United States. (They are also part of the nation's poorest Congressional District.) Obesity rates are also high in the area, as they are through much of the Bronx. Ironically, even though much of the fresh produce sold in the NY Metro area goes to the Hunts Point Food Market (located in the heart of the South Bronx), most residents of the surrounding neighborhoods cannot buy fresh fruits or vegetables in their own communities.
Anyway, enough about subjects about which I don't know much (apart from having written an article about the asthma rates). I am hoping that the new bridge's construction proceeds quickly but safely. But I have to wonder whether that will happen after seeing the sign on the left.
It says that Con Ed, the local utility, is removing duct work from underneath the scaffolding. I hope this doesn't delay construction!