Friday, March 28, 2008

A tri-borough improvement!

The Triborough bridge just got better! Much better. Like so many blog writers, I bitch a lot. But then there's a lot about which to bitch when biking in NYC. So it's great to see something better (especially just days after I complained that nothing was better).

I was riding to West End Ave and 94th St today. For variety, I decided to take the sketchy Triborough Bridge. I thought it might be shorter (it is, by a half mile, but wasn't any faster). But I like variety. I even like sketchy. Plus the view from the top of the Triborough, above traffic, without a chainlink fence, looking down at the beautiful and under-appreciated Hell Gate Bridge (did you know the Sydney Harbor Bridge is modeled after our very own Hell Gate Bridge?), it can't be beat. And dag, it's a long way down.

Even leaving aside the outpatients, I've written about the problems of this bridge before, but now there's something new. It's a huge project and a huge improvement: A nice new exit ramp from the Astoria to Wards Island part. This means the worst part of the ride--the nasty next to highway traffic mile--is gone!

Meanwhile there's still a lot of surface construction, so if anything right now the ride is worse than ever. But one day the construction will be done and it will be great.

Sort of. There's still no real signage actually telling a rider how to get from one part of the bridge to another. The Triborough is actually three bridges, and on bike, you go up and down all of them. And it's not easy to figure out how to get to them. So I've made a map. I hope this helps somebody. The more bikes that ride over this bridge, the better for all bikes. And, oh yeah, technically riding your bike over this bridge is prohibited. What a city...

You can zoom on these. The green is the new ramp! The blue is the bad part that doesn't exist anymore. The white line is the ground-level connection between the Queens bridge and the Harlem bridge.

Finding the Manhattan/Harlem/125th Street connection (it actually drops you off on 126th St, but whatever) is tough. Coming from Queens and following the white line, make a left into what looks like the access road to a municipal parking lot. Turn before the green garbage trucks. Then look left for the ramp under the bridge. One you find it, there is actually a sign.
(click on picture to zoom.)

Last time I checked, you can also ride on the south side of the Randall Island to Harlem bridge. But I don't see any advantage. And last time I did, there was a small homeless encampment on the south side. Not really biker friendly.

Also, you may be tempted, but you can't get through the golf course on the west side of the triborough.

There is also a pedestrian bridge on the southwest corner of Ward Island to East Harmlem (El Barrio). I've never been over it because it's up most of the time. It connects to the projects (East River Homes) at what would be E 103rd St.

More uplifting moments from today's ride: how damn beautiful so many Harlem brownstones are. Biking through Central Park (with one eye on sexy joggers). I love New York!

2010 Update: You can still bike over the bridge. After a long period of construction, things are a bit better, but there are still steps, about three flights. If you can't carry your bike up and down steps you need to go down to 59th St. And the Triborough has been renamed the RFK Bridge. Both terms are currently in use. 2014 Update: The footbridge to Manhattan is now open all the time. It's quite a shortcut and goes to some public housing at what would be 103rd St in Manhattan (But 103 Street doesn't go through, use 102 or 105 Street.


Anonymous said...

The Training-Boro Bridge improved! Seriously, what better place for cross training! Haul yer rig up the stairs, mount, ride, dismount, climb, dismount and descend, then mount and ride again! The Queens to Randall's cross-training regime!

For the sake of variety, I'll take the Triborough when I feel the cross-training need or the Tour de Bronx calls. Otherwise, forget it.

They need a Triborough to Van Cortland greenway, as well as a west side greenway to Van Cortland greenway. Then connect up to the South/North County Rail Trail. Such a great rail trail, and no decent cycling access to it from the city.

-the "really, I'm not bitter about having to put up with cars parked in bike lanes" Astorian

PCM said...

Strangely, I don't mind the two flights of stairs at all. Seems minor to me. I just don't have much business in Harlem, so I don't have much use for the Triborough. But you have to admit it is much better (not good, just much better). Not only is the mile freeway path gone, but so is one of those horrible litter and crap filled double-back ramps.

I've never heard of the South/North County Rail Trail, much less been on it. Where does it start?

Anonymous said...

South/North County Rail Trail

Nathan said...

I just gave this a shot today... only the south side of the Harlem to Randals bridge is open. I wish I had seen this post before attempting crossing over to Astoria! To say the path hard to find is putting it lightly. Hopefully all that construction they are doing will make the bike/pedestrian path more clear.

PCM said...

What's the current homeless situation? Any living on the path?

Anonymous said...

Hey, i'm looking to bike to te NY Botanical Gardens from Astoria. Any info on crossing to the Bronx from the Triboro?

PCM said...

Just do it. It's easy to do. See the map above. Once you get to the Bronx, veer left, then right (and look at a map). And get some juice from a truck in the Bronx.

ayton said...

Hey! Thanks! I was just up at the astoria side two days ago, and couldn't figure out how to get across (I was trying to do all east side bridges in one day). I still don't quite get the initial queens to randalls part (the rest is clear). Is there a path from Queens to Randals, or do you just go with the traffic??


PCM said...

Just follow the traffic... sort of. Don't follow the traffic over the bridge, but do follow the traffic on the wide street-level street on the side of the bridge. I guess technically it's Hoyt Ave N. Look left and there are stairs going up on the north side of the bridge between 27th and 28th street.

Chris said...


I find this very interesting. Can you walk the bridge to get onto Randalls Island?

PCM said...

Yes. Of course. That is what the path is there for.

Michel said...

I've taken that Wards Island Bridge. It's a bit tricky to get to from the Triboro/RFK ramp:
You have to double-back and go around the hospital. Once you get around that "Iffy" neighborhood it's nice.
You walk through a park (with toilets & water). The overpass takes you over the FDR into an OK area.

PCM said...

I rode the bridge recently and can happily report that one stair case, the small one close to the Queens side, has been ramped over!

Minor but nice. It avoids the 70 foot "should I walk or ride to the next stair case" dilemma.

philip bonanno said...

i took it for the first time with my bike , n i ended up in the bronx, and it started to rain , it sucked