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Washington Bridge

‘We Are Angry’: Driver Kills Cyclist on Bridge Where DOT Failed to Finish New Bike Lane

A protected bike lane was supposed to open in 2023, but is still unfinished.

Photo: Lucia Deng|

The bike lane, seen on May 28, was supposed to be done last fall. And now a cyclist is dead.

A hit-and-run motorist killed a cyclist on the Washington Bridge, a busy span between the Bronx and uptown Manhattan where the city failed to open a protected bike lane as promised last year, citing "complexities" that will delay the project for at least another month.

Zenaido Rosas-Pinzon, 30, was riding eastbound on the bridge — the same side as the span's new bus lane — on Thursday night, when police claimed he "lost control" and fell into the roadway. A driver in a dark-colored car then ran him over and fled.

Rosas-Pinzon, who lived on Plimpton Avenue, just steps from the bridge's Bronx end, later died at Harlem Hospital, according to the authorities.

Zenaido Rosas-Pinzón seen on a different span over the Harlem River near the one on which he was killed. The family has set up a Go Fund Me page to help with funeral costs.Family photo

The Bronxite would have been able to ride in a protected bike path completely separated from cars if the Department of Transportation had installed the two-way lane and jersey barriers that the agency said would be completed last "summer or early fall," but the project suffered months of delays and won't be done until this summer, outraging advocates.

"We are heartbroken and angry that a hit-and-run driver struck and killed a bike rider in Washington Heights," said Jada Yeboah, a Bronx and uptown organizer with Transportation Alternatives. "DOT promised to install a protected bike lane along the Washington Bridge last year, but the bike lane remains unfinished and the road remains dangerous. ... These repeated delays are killing us."

The bike lane is still closed and construction equipment litters the path. Photo: Lucia Deng

Cyclists have for years been forced into a narrow shared path with pedestrians on the northern side of the span, and more recently, they've started riding in the bus lane that opened on the east-bound side last year. The bus lane is also far better illuminated at night than the narrow shoulder, said another local bike advocate.

"When I’m heading eastbound, frankly, I always take the bus lane," said Lucia Deng, a Bronx activist with Transportation Alternatives.

There have been 38 reported crashes on the bridge over the past year injuring 16 people, more than one a month, according to police statistics collected by Crash Mapper.

Cyclists use the bus lane on the Washington Bridge, because the bike lane is still not open six months after it was supposed to be.Photo: Lucia Deng

The DOT proposal [PDF] from late 2022 said the agency would repurpose two of the bridge's six car lanes, replacing the outer path on the north with the bike path and on the southern side with a bus lane, but the bike lanes are still not done and are at least six months behind schedule.

DOT reps told locals during the initial presentation that they would start work in the spring of 2023 and finish up by that summer or fall, a similar timeline to the installation of the Brooklyn Bridge bike lanes in 2021.

Construction equipment still littered the path as of Tuesday, and an agency spokesperson revealed the lanes won't open until this summer, blaming "complexities" on the roughly year-long setback.

"This was a terrible tragedy and our thoughts are with Zenaido Rosas-Pinzon's loved ones," said agency spokesperson Will Livingston. "Complexities at this location extended the timeline to complete this project, but we anticipate the lane opening this summer."

Livingston cited seemingly routine road work for the holdup, like putting up the jersey barriers on a bridge with joints, a "special procurement" for paving, other bridge rehab work going on, and several nights of road closures to finish the work.

The Washington Bridge is one of 11 spans over the Harlem River DOT earmarked in a 2018 report for better bike and pedestrian infrastructure, to connect the Bronx with Manhattan as well as the East River bridges link to Brooklyn and Queens.

The victim's family has set up a Go Fund Me page here.

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