Monday, June 20, 2005

Facing My Demons on the Triborough Bridge

On September 20th, 2004, I was biking back from a Yankee game and wiped out on the Triborough Bridge I was pretty messed up.

I haven’t been over the bridge since then. It’s not that I was avoiding it. I just don’t often need to go to Harlem or the South Bronx from Queens.

Last year, coming back to Astoria, I was on the Triborough Bridge and didn’t see a bump. It was dark, my front light was flopping around, and the headlights from oncoming cars were in my eyes. The bump is probably a half-foot high and is poorly asphalted over. Hitting it is basically like hitting a small curb. It’s also on a downhill. So I was going about 22 miles-per-hour. I hit the bump and went flying. It happened very fast, as they say. I bruised various points on the right side of my body, from my hip to my eye.

You can see some of my injuries in these pictures from last year taken a few days after the fall.

These are old pictures. Please don’t think I fell off my bike again. What the pictures don’t show was the fractured rib. Damn that hurt. Luckily, I didn’t hurt anything that didn’t heal. Amazingly, my bike wasn't damaged at all, except for a lost rear reflector. In fact, I was able to bike home (damn, that hurt, too).

Yesterday I went to see my Chicago Cubs lose yet again at Yankee Stadium. I was able to revisit the disaster scene.

This is the bump that did me in:

I went over it very slowly.

I imagine that after my fall I looked something like this. But bloodier.

The Triborough Bridge is by far the seediest of the city’s bridge crossings. There are three separate bridges. About a 2-mile stretch links Queens and Randalls and Wards Islands (they’ve long since become one land mass). Then you have a choice to go to either the Bronx or to 125th St. in Harlem. Each of these stretches is another mile. In general, the path is long, littered, and frequented by the occasional out-patient from the mental hospitals on Wards Island.

The Triborough is an expensive $4 toll for cars. It brings in a lot of cash for the State (in typical political hypocrisy, New York State won’t let New York City charge any tolls for the city’s bridges). So it’s a real shame that the Bridge Authority can’t sweep the path every now and then of trash and sand and broken glass.

All that said, and if you don’t mind the three flights of stairs, it’s incredibly beautiful. And for the main span over the East River, you’re above the traffic level, which is a peaceful treat.

The views are spectacular. To the North is the Hell Gate Bridge. This underappreciated bridge was the largest span bridge in the world when it opened in 1916. It allowed trains to go from New England through New York to New Jersey and all points West. Previously, trains had to dead end into Grand Central Terminal. .

To the South you see Manhattan and the Empire State Building. The little red bridge links Queens and Roosevelt Island. Behind that is the Queensboro Bridge.

The path continues to the West before turning North.

Between Randalls Island and the Bronx is a little creek connecting the Harlem and East Rivers. This is all the keeps the “Island” in Randalls Island. That’s the mainland on the other side.

The rest of the day can be seen on my other blog.

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