A new initiative is focused on making it easier and safer to get from Manhattan to the Bronx using one of the 11 bridges that cross the Harlem River. Walkers and bikers face many hurdles when trying cross the river from either side. Vehicles come off the bridges too fast, running red lights and causing accidents. When they turn they don’t yield to pedestrians. One resident witnessed two accidents on the same day, both involving children who were hit in the vicinity of the 145th Street bridge.
Nine of the 11 bridges have paths for pedestrians, although they are very narrow. Bike riders can use only two of the bridges. The approaches from either side of the bridges are even more challenging for bicyclists and pedestrians. Bike lanes are not clear, and pedestrians have few options that do not involve crossing heavy traffic. The East River has clearly marked bike lanes on bridges and nearby streets. Transportation Alternatives and community members have banded together to draw attention to the problem, saying that crossing the Harlem River should be just as safe as crossing the East River.
Lots of people walk across the 145th Street Bridge from Harlem to the Bronx Terminal Market to do their shopping. One resident noted that she seldom sees bikes on the bridge, probably because there is no bike lane and cyclists are forced to either ride in the heavy traffic or on the sidewalk, where they then pose a hazard to pedestrians. Traffic emerges from the bridge on 149th Street, right at the Major Degan Expressway, where there is a confusing confluence of streets entering and exiting this major roadway as well as many commercial vehicles coming and going from the market.
Ideas for fixing the problem include more bike lanes, better lighting, more curb extensions and a crackdown on illegally parked city vehicles on the streets around the bridges’ entrances and exits.