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Eyes on the Street

In the Works: Safer South Bronx Bike Connections to Randall’s Island

The new protected bike lane taking shape on 133rd Street east of St. Ann’s Avenue. Photo: David Meyer

Biking from the Bronx to Randall's Island is about to get safer.

DOT crews are building out two protected bike lane routes linking the neighborhoods north of the Bruckner Expressway to the island [PDF]. The city presented the project to Bronx Community Board 1 in June 2016, and work just got underway last month.

These on-street connections improve access to the Randall's Island Connector. The connector was a big improvement for walking and biking access to the island when it opened in 2015, but getting to it from the residential parts of the South Bronx remained intimidating, involving industrial streets with lots of trucks.

The new bike routes -- one along St. Ann's Avenue and 133rd Street, and the other on Willow Avenue and 138th Street -- provide protection from truck traffic.

Image: DOT
Image: DOT
Image: DOT

At the dangerous intersection of 138th Street and Bruckner Boulevard, the project will expand pedestrian space and add a two-way bike crossing. Construction is still in progress but the expanded medians on the northern side appear to be nearly finished.

A newly-expanded pedestrian island at 138th Street below the Bruckner Expressway. Photo: David Meyer
An expanded pedestrian island at 138th Street below the Bruckner Expressway. Photo: David Meyer
A newly-expanded pedestrian island at 138th Street below the Bruckner Expressway. Photo: David Meyer

The bikeways are still works in progress and not fully rideable. So far, DOT has installed bike markings for two-way, parking-protected bike lanes on St. Ann's and 133rd, which connect Randall's to the Mill Brook Houses north of the expressway. Work has yet to start on the two-way protected bike lane slated for Willow Avenue.

Once the green paint is down and the bikeways are complete, some adjustments will be needed to keep the new paths clear. Riding the route yesterday, I had to merge into high-speed truck traffic on multiple occasions to get around vehicles parked in the bike lane.

Just north of the intersection of St. Ann's Avenue and Bruckner Boulevard, mechanics were fixing a car in the bike lane. On 133rd Street, three Department of Sanitation trucks sat in the bike lane on the block beneath the Triborough Bridge, adjacent to the lane of parked cars. And on a short stretch of sidewalk where cyclists are supposed to ride approaching the connector, parked cars blocked the way.

The bike lane on St. Ann's Avenue between the Bruckner Expressway and 133rd Street is being used for car repairs. Photo: David Meyer
Mechanics worked on cars in the bike lane on St. Ann's Avenue between the Bruckner Expressway and 133rd Street. Photo: David Meyer
The bike lane on St. Ann's Avenue between the Bruckner Expressway and 133rd Street is being used for car repairs. Photo: David Meyer

While work is still underway, obstructions like these are to be expected. If old habits don't change after the bikeways are finished, though, they won't provide the protection they're supposed to.

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