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Constantinides Calls on MTA to Fix Dangerous RFK Bridge Path

Sept. 9, 2019 By Ryanne Salzano

A stretch of the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge’s pedestrian lane leaves bicyclists susceptible to tumbling into the East River below and now Council Member Costa Constantinides is calling on the MTA to do something to prevent just that. 

Constantinides wrote a letter to the MTA on Aug. 30 calling on the agency to fix the dangerous pedestrian lane by installing protective fencing along the entire length of the bridge. He also asked the MTA to look into creating separate biking and pedestrian lanes. 

“Crossing the Triborough Bridge shouldn’t be a life-or-death situation, yet that’s sadly what pedestrians and cyclists face the second they enter this crossing,” Council Member Constantinides said. 

The dangerous stretch is the crossing between Astoria and Randall’s Island, where the railing is only about four feet high. The strip sits 150 feet over the East River and a cycling advocate told the City that when mounted on his bicycle, his hip was just inches from the top of the rail. 

A section of the pedestrian path where a 10-foot fence is already installed. (Google Maps)

A section of the pedestrian path where only a four-foot barrier is installed. (Google Maps)

“It literally feels like one mistake and you’re going into the East River,” Juan Restrepo, Queens Organizer of Transportation Alternatives, told the publication.

“Fencing along the entire pedestrian path will ensure simply tripping doesn’t lead to a tragic accident and deters anyone thinking about taking their life until help can arrive,” Constantinides said. 

In addition, the pedestrian path spans five feet wide and is too narrow for bikers and pedestrians to safely share, the council member said. He urged the MTA to re-open the bridge’s southern pathway “which would allow separate, safer crossings for cyclists and pedestrians,” he said. 

Biking is theoretically prohibited in the lane, and punishable by fine. However, commuters still use this path to get to Manhattan.

“Every other East River…path allows for cyclist use. It’s time the MTA needs to legalize — and make safer — biking on the Triborough Bridge,” Restrepo said.

Constantinides penned the letter to Daniel DeCrescenzo, the acting president of MTA Bridges and Tunnels. MTA Bridges and Tunnels owns and operates the bridge.

He called on DeCrescenzo to install fencing along the entire pedestrian path. The northern pedestrian crossing on the bridge has 10-feet-high protective fences, but only where the bridge is above land. 

There is an unused walkway on the southern side of the bridge that could be reopened to create separate bike-pedestrian lanes, the council member also suggested. 

The council member added that protective fencing can also act as a suicide prevention measure. Four people have died by suicide from the RFK Bridge since 2015. 

In the letter, the council member stated the bridge needs to be conducive to other forms of transportation, not just cars.

The Robert F. Kennedy Bridge, also known as the Triborough Bridge, crosses the East River and connects Manhattan, Queens and the Bronx, as well as Randall’s Island.

MTA TBTA Bicycle Safety Letter by Queens Post on Scribd

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13 Comments

Jenastoriat

Even the trolls should be for this plan! I have seen bottles thrown off the bridge from vehicles that could have killed some in the park. A fence would help prevent that sort of thing too.

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Pat Macnamara

Moderators love Clueless Costa as they never post my comments about what a waste he is. Vote this bum out!!!

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Native New Yorker

And yet here you are, Pat. I guess the moderators are slipping because you do nothing but complain about Costa. 🙄

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Boone

Good you want that, come up with a plan to pay for it.
That bridge wasn’t built for foot traffic. Pedestrians and bicyclists can pay a fee to cross both ways just like cars and trucks do. Who will pay for the added cost of maintaining the lanes so pedestrians and bicyclists can cross? Want to charge the cars and trucks more that deliver everyday goods to us and then complain that those same everyday goods go up in price or complain that the toll is too much when those same pedestrians and bicyclists cross the bridge in their car? And if bikes are prohibited why is this even being entertained?

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Steve

If the bridge wasn’t built for foot traffic then why did Robert Moses build the Triboro with pedestrian walkways on both sides of the bridge? Oh yeah, for foot traffic!

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S Carter

The path is way too narrow for both bikers and pedestrians. It is clearly posted no biking. If you want to make a difference, start ticketing those who don’t adhere to that rule.

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jb

they have been posting two MTA officer on the bridge on high traffic days. On days like that those cops could see upwards of two dozen cyclists in a hour.
The distance the bridge covers is ideal for cycling, just about 2 miles from here to harlem. But the path isn’t great for it. If they retrofitted it to handle traffic better more people would use it. It’s about 3 times better than taking the n/w times square and transferring to an uptown train to get there. The m60 isn’t a bad option but it doesn’t take you to the bronx.

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Queens Cyclist Commutter

I used to bike this every day to get to school in Harlem, 90% of the users of the bridge that I have seen are cyclists, as its the fastest way to get to uptown Manhattan/Bronx without having to take the Queensboro. There is very little pedestrian traffic probably because it would take about a half-hour for a pedestrian to cross the first part of the bridge from Queens to Manhattan (and most are probably only there for the soccer field and other activities on the island since pedestrians can take the m60 to get into Manhattan from Queens)

If the majority of the users of the bridge are cyclists, they should permit cyclists to use it without having to worry about getting a ticket.

They have another pathway on the south side of the bridge that they could use but is closed off for whatever reason. It can be opened up to accommodate cyclists and/or pedestrians as well.

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Pat Macnamara

Meanwhile Steinway street is turning into a haven for the homeless, is filthy, and it is a ghost town. A 64 year woman was brutally mugged at the 46th street station-but clueless Costa’s focus is on POSSIBLE issue. Focus on the actual issues already. Vote this bum out of office

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Jacky

Once again something to do with bike lines. I guess he feels they will be the ones to keep him in office when its time to vote. Would be nice if he also focused on public safety and quality of life around here.

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