Councilman Costa Constantinides penned a letter to the MTA’s Bridges and Tunnels division to request protective fences along the entire path. He also asked for separate lanes for biking and walking for the inter-borough crossing.
“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 the crossing,” he said in a statement. “Fencing along the entire pedestrian path will ensure that simply tripping doesn’t lead to a tragic accident, and deters anyone thinking about taking their life until help can arrive.
“I hope the MTA will consider reopening the bridge’s southern crossing as well,” Constantinides added, “which would allow separate, safer crossings for cyclists and pedestrians.”
In the letter, the Astoria councilman wrote that due to the dangerous conditions, only cyclists “brave enough would dare to take on this journey.” Long sections of the path are completely exposed, he said, without protective fencing or barriers.
Constantinides added that since 2015, four people took their life on the RFK Bridge. Altogether, since 2017, 21 people have committed suicide on a city bridge, according to the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
“These are traumatic statistics to recite,” he wrote, “and they desperately show the need for physical barriers that can reduce the likelihood of suicide on public infrastructure.”
Juan Restrepo, Queens organizer with Transportation Alternatives, called protective fencing a “no-brainer solution” to prevent unnecessary deaths.
Biking on the five-foot path path is prohibited, but many still cycle across the span to commute between boroughs.
“We also should not be punishing Queens and Bronx cyclists with tickets for electing to take a five-minute bike ride over the bridge –– the only bridge connecting Queens and the Bronx with a pedestrian and cyclist pathway –– when walking would take five times as long, and detouring through Manhattan would take an additional half hour,” Restrepo said in a statement. “Every other East River bike and pedestrian path allows for cyclist use.”
An MTA spokesperson said that the pedestrian walkways on the RFK Bridge do not comply with modern standards for shared use.
Therefore, for safety reasons, cyclists must dismount and walk their bikes over the path.
“Providing a safe environment on and around our facilities is an essential priority at MTA Bridges and Tunnels,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “As we constantly review our practices and procedures, we appreciate the Council Member’s concerns and will review the proposals he has put forth.”