Mel's Top Five Infrastructure Improvements
You get any group of cyclists together, and inevitably they will start bitching about infrastructure. Crowding on the Brooklyn and Queensboro Bridges. Poorly marked bike lanes. Terrible pavement. And yes, we have a long way to go for safer cycling. But this article is more about looking back and seeing how far we have come. Here are my top five infrastructure improvements - one in each borough.
Manhattan – This is the easiest one – The Hudson Trail. There are indeed places on the trail that I'm not a fan of. The new “work around” in the hills sucks. Places get crowded. But that said – I can ride from the top of Manhattan to the southern tip without a single car in my path. The views along the river are magical.
Queens – Queens Boulevard was known as the “Boulevard of Death”, and rightly so. As cyclists we hugged the service lanes and prayed for our safety. In actuality, we merely went out of our way not to take it. And now – we have a beautifully kept trail that goes for miles connecting various neighborhoods in the boro.
Brooklyn – This one is personal. The Pulaski Bridge bike lane. Prior to the new two way lane, there was a narrow walkway that was shared by pedestrians, bikes, scooters, strollers, joggers and gawkers. “EXCUSE ME – EXCUSE ME” as you tempted to navigate through the throng. Now, we have an easy car and ped free connection between Greenpoint and LIC. The lane seemed to take a geologic age to complete – but the wait was worth it.
The Bronx - The Bronx Connector is well named. Prior to the connector, the only way off Randall's Island to the Bronx was through the “Hobo Bridge.” Crazy narrow ramps that I was afraid to ride on. When you exited the bridge proper you ended up walking down a ramp through someone's bathroom. The new connector is at grade and comes at the end of a wonderful trail. This was improved even more with the new two way trail on 133rd Street that connects to St Anns' and points north. Getting to the Bronx used to be insane, it is now easy peasy.
Staten Island – Maybe the greatest infrastructure improvement is in the Anger Management Boro. SUV's would buzz you off the road – and the intersection of Richmond and Drumgoole was downright scary. The new Staten Island bike trail from Arlene to Arthur Kill is a game changer. Not only is it traffic free – but it rides along beautiful scenic wetlands. To put it mildly, this is a game changer in The Forgotten Borough.
We have a long way to go for cycling safety. But every day, there appears to be another improvement. Things like the new “gazoo” connecting Concrete and Starlight Park in the Bronx. Or, the new two way trail from the Hipster Highway to Greenpoint. Fourth Avenue in Brooklyn will have a bike lane all the way to Flatbush. Riding along the new protected bike lane on Crescent in Queens. Thanks to everyone who is working to make these changes. We may have a long way to go – but we have also come a long way from where we were.