Eyes on the Street: Randall’s Island Connector to Open in “Coming Weeks”

The Randall’s Island Connector is still fenced off, but not for long. EDC says an opening date will be scheduled “in the coming weeks.” Photo: Stephen Miller

The Randall’s Island Connector, a greenway link between the South Bronx and Randall’s Island, is almost complete. Bronxites are anticipating a ribbon-cutting any day now from the city’s Economic Development Corporation, which is building the project.

The new path crosses the Bronx Kill, a narrow waterway separating Randall’s Island from the Bronx. Without it, the only way to bike or walk from the Bronx to Randall’s Island is over narrow paths on the Triborough Bridge that include stairs, sharp curves, and a steep ascent to bridge level.

In contrast, the connector will provide a flat, direct crossing from E. 132nd Street in Port Morris to 330 acres of public parks and greenways on Randall’s Island.

Construction crews are currently finishing up handrail installations and minor fencing work, EDC says, before the city schedules a grand opening.

EDC wouldn’t give an exact opening date — but it should be soon. “As we put the finishing touches on the Randall’s Island Connector and schedule a grand opening event in the coming weeks, we are excited for the many opportunities that this neighborhood asset will provide for the community,” an agency spokesperson said.

  • AnoNYC

    Slowest bicycle infrastructure project ever considering the scale.

    Not sure where the stairs are located on the Tri-boro Bridge’s Bronx span either. The west walkway is ramps throughout, just a bit narrow along the span. The Queens span needs ramps for sure, and not sure about the Manhattan leg since I take the green drawbridge.

  • Jeff

    Not gonna lie: I’m gonna miss descending those ramps on the Randalls Island side of the Bronx Span of the Triboro! There’s something really fun about them–I like to pretend that I’m part of some kind of Mouse Trap style combobulation.

    I get really, really bored on long rides.

  • HamTech87
  • Matthias

    This looks great! We need more links like this.

  • ohnonononono

    Exciting!

  • Jeffrey Baker

    Looks like there’s nearly enough room for .7 people to walk side-by-side.

  • jimmyd

    Striping in enough room for two cyclists to pass each other at speed is more important than making room for pedestrians in this city. If there isn’t room for a bikeway in addition to a comfortably sized walkway then the city shouldn’t stripe in a dedicated bikeway. All it does is encourage cyclists to ride faster and make pedestrians unwelcome. The entire width should be a shared facility where cyclists yield to pedestrians.

  • MrToesy

    It’s not like this bridge will have the kind of traffic the Manhattan Bridge has. I am very happy with the config.

  • Maggie

    Mind-boggling how many years this has taken… but very happy that it’s almost finished. Thank you EDC!

  • Miles Bader

    In a narrow constrained area like that, such stripping is at best a suggestion anyway… and as a suggestion, it’s not a horrible idea. It’s pretty unlikely people will really keep within the bounds in practice, and cyclists will need to ride cautiously when there are other users present, but a hint as to where to move when different groups meet can help organize things a bit.

  • jimmyd

    When I bike I find myself riding faster in ‘shared’ spaces where there is a painted divider. It’s easy to forget that the paint won’t necessarily be respected.

    http://usa.streetsblog.org/2014/08/15/removing-center-lines-reduced-speeding-on-london-streets/

    Same principle.

    If there’s a good reason for people to walk on one side, based on connections on either end, then put in the pedestrian and bike/skate/jog figures on the ground. But dividing lines shouldn’t be put in if the space will reasonably be expected to be shared fluidly. If it’s a narrow space don’t paint it like it’s a highway. Speeding cyclists along shouldn’t be the top priority.

  • BBnet3000

    This is a terrible idea. If anything it would be better if they elevated the sidewalk to segregate the space better.

    Shared ped/bike space does not work with heavy use. The Dutch figured this out decades ago. No amount of wishing by yourself, the EDC or the Parks Department will make it so.

    The sad part is this isn’t a constrained space. At first I thought it was but looking at the picture again I see they’re using barely half the space available under the arch for this path.

  • Joe R.

    I’d be inclined to separate the bike and pedestrian parts with a fence as well. It would be better for both in that it would keep people out of each other’s designated space.

    Also, we might ask the question how much pedestrian usage will this bridge see? This is a valid question. In principal, I might agree with jimmyd that you shouldn’t accommodate bikes if it’s at the expense of decent pedestrian infrastructure. In practice I might say “it depends”. If a path is far from points of interest, then most of the traffic is likely to be bikes. In that case, what we have here is fine. There may be no demarcation like an elevated sidewalk to better segregate the space, but in practice that won’t matter because cyclists will hardly ever encounter pedestrians. The Dutch even do this. On the bike paths between towns they often don’t provide any pedestrian facilities at all, expecting rather that the few people who might walk will just use the bike path. And since it is only a few, this won’t be a major detriment to cyclists. Lines of sight are key here though. Even if you have few pedestrians in a shared space, they need to see approaching cyclists and vice versa for safety reasons. If you have poor lines of sight, then you need to segregate space regardless of the number of users.

    On the other hand, if this space will be heavily used by both bikes and pedestrians, then a raised sidewalk, or better yet a fence between the bike and pedestrian areas, makes sense. You’re quite correct that shared space which is heavily used just doesn’t work well for either user.

  • Jonathan R

    The path over the bridge is about as wide as the Cherry Walk section of the Hudson River Greenway, similar in that there’s no reason to stop alongside.

    Also bear in mind that Randalls Island is not set up for speedy bicycling; going south here you are obliged to cross the busy only street in order to get to the bike lane or the bridge to Queens.

    It’s certainly a time-saver when going north over using the hairpin ramp on the Bronx side or even the Manhattan ramps.

  • empidonax_road

    Let’s hope this doesn’t get hurricaned just before it opens… This spot is pretty close to the water.

  • jimmyd

    A narrow path like this is always a shared space. Paint it like it’s a highway and cyclists will expect to speed through. It’ll breed resentment and lead to injuries.

    Shared ped/bike space does not work with heavy use. The Dutch
    figured this out decades ago. No amount of wishing by yourself, the EDC
    or the Parks Department will make it so.

    If there isn’t enough room for a bikeway after you give an adequate amount of space to pedestrians then there isn’t enough room for a bikeway. If cyclists won’t ride respectfully as guests then don’t permit them to ride through at all, they can detour to existing connectors.

  • jimmyd

    Put in a fence and two people can’t walk side by side. Try it and they’ll walk in the wider bike path instead. Only now when a bike comes they won’t have as much room to maneuver.

    Leaving the suggestive bike/walk icons where they are would be fine. But the highway lane stripes should never have been put in, and should be removed. All they’ll do is encourage cyclists to ride fast in an inappropriate setting.

  • Bernard Finucane

    Bollards are better than fences in places like this.

  • jimmyd

    Put in bollards and it will compound the mistake of the highway lanes that DOT painted. Cyclists will get aggressive when they perceive ‘scofflaw’ pedestrians to be trespassing in ‘their’ space.

  • Bernard Finucane

    I don’t think so. It works really well in Germany anyway.

  • BBnet3000

    You can either pretend that universal human behavior won’t happen and chide people for not being “respectful”, or you can *fix the problem through a high level of design*.

    We know which one is the practice in New York.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    in Germany, the walking surface would likely be some sort of bricks-cobblestones to reduce desireability for bike tires.

    German DOTs use different textures of pavement to communicate spe ration in rather sophisticated ways. Cars are slowed via short bits of cobblestones, cyclists are kept on smooth paths bounded by cobblestones. pedestrian islands & bump outs are also rough textured.

  • Bernard Finucane

    That’s true enough. It can be a real pain sometimes. And skating is usually impossible in pedestrian areas. But on the other hand, you should ride slowly in places like this.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    you want to revisit the topic of how fast bikes should ride ?

    🙂

  • jimmyd

    People won’t behave on their own? Then make the path out of cobblestones to slow cyclists.

  • BBnet3000

    That wouldn’t be ADA compliant. How about instead of thinking of new and innovative ways to make cycling inconvenient we just design a better path that would work well for everyone?

  • 1soReal

    I was thinking the other day to pass by here and see if it was completed. Its been “almost” done for years it seems. It would be nice whenever it actually opens. Too bad the immediate area on Bronx side is an industrial wasteland. Unless you follow things like this, the avg person has no idea this will exist. Even ppl very close. A chunk of the area south of 138th is nothing but empty industrial streets, highway overpasses, and an occasional shelter
    I believe there is a railroad crossing along this short bridge. A bike railroad crossing, that’d be a first for me. Only 2 crossing a day from what I’ve heard.

  • AnoNYC

    I passed by today and it’s still gated off. The bicycle path along the northwest road of Randall’s Island has finally been repaved, reconfigured and is all around much better.

  • 1soReal

    So what ever happen to a couple weeks? lol.
    Why don’t they just blow it all up. Clearly everyone involved in this is full of s**t. Nothings changed for the last decade or so this alleged bridge has be talked about.

  • AnoNYC

    The worst part about all this is that it is already complete. You can see it through the fence.

    I must also mention that they did a good job rebuilding the bicycle lanes heading west from the RI connector towards the Randall’s Island event grounds, but along the waterfront grounds up to the Randall’s/Ward Island connector bridge desperately need to be repaved and marked. The asphalt/gravel service is badly worn away. That’s the last area that needs to be rehabbed to provide an excellent connection between the Bronx and Manhattan through RI.

  • AnoNYC
  • 1soReal

    Its open!

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