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.