Councilman Costa Constantinides is calling on the MTA to install protective measures along the Robert F. Kennedy (formerly Triborough) Bridge to prevent the death of cyclists.
Last month he addressed a letter to Daniel DeCrescenzo, the acting president of the MTA Bridges and Tunnels.
“I am writing to request the Metropolitan Transit Authority Bridges and Tunnels to identify actionable measures the Authority could implement to improve the cyclist and pedestrian experience along the RFK Bridge,” said Constantinides in the letter. “With current conditions, only cyclists who are brave enough would dare to take on this journey.”
The bike path on the bridge has long sections that are completely exposed, which has even led experienced bikers from trekking on the RFK, according to the councilman.
“Crossing the stretch across the East River between Astoria and Randall’s Island is extremely dangerous in its current state,” said his spokesman. “Ten-foot mesh fences only cover sections of the pedestrian path — found on the bridge’s north side — that are above ground. A significantly shorter outer wall is all that protects cyclists and pedestrians along the pathway, which sits roughly 150 feet above the water. Lives are put at risk any time someone trips or falls along this stretch.”
Constantinides has suggested installing protective fences, creating a study to determine the feasibility of separate pedestrian and cycling paths, and to make the bridge more cyclist-friendly, according to the letter.
“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,” said Constantinides. “Fencing along the entire pedestrian path will ensure simply tripping doesn’t lead to a tragic accident.”
The councilman also hopes that the protective installation will deter civilians who are suicidal from taking their lives while on the RFK, according to the letter.
“To the best of my knowledge, four individuals have taken their life on the RFK Bridge since 2015 and in 2017 the City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene reported 21 individuals to have committed suicide on a city bridge,” said Constantinides. “These are traumatic statistics to recite and they desperately show the need for physical barriers that can reduce the likelihood of suicide on public infrastructure.”
Outside of suicides, there have been 18 cyclist deaths throughout the city since July, according to nyc.streetsblog.org. In the first half of 2019, two cyclists have died and 41 have been injured out of 1,433 crashes.
“Transportation Alternatives stands with Council Member Constantinides in calling for the full installation of protective fencing along the entire perimeter of the pedestrian and bicycle path on the Triborough Bridge, as well as lifting the cycling ban on the bridge,” said Juan Restrepo, Queens Organizer of Transportation Alternatives. “Protective fencing is a no-brainer solution to prevent unnecessary death from strong winds or foul play on the pathway.”
Constantinides understands that the bridge was built in the 20th century with only vehicles in mind, but times have changed, according to the councilman.”
“I believe protective fencing along the RFK Bridge would be a small step forward in rectifying this legacy.