Fall 2004, p.7
Cycling News: Bridges
Dangerous bumps on the Williamsburg Bridge cause broken bones and worse. Photo by Lisa Whiteman.
Since the Department of Transportation opened the new Williamsburg Bridge path in December 2002, the bridge’s dangerous expansion joint covers have inflicted a steady stream of broken bones, cuts and abrasions on all types of bridge users. After getting nowhere with the DOT, T.A. sent a team to survey bridge users to document the extent of the danger this summer. T.A.’s main finding is that 25% of the 254 respondents have crashed their bicycles or tripped and fallen on the bridge’s 26 bumps.
The survey also showed that the metal bumps caused two out of three respondents to lose control of their bicycles or trip and caused one out of three respondents to avoid crossing the Williamsburg Bridge. The uniquely acute bumps (on other bridges, bumps have smoother approaches and are thus much less dangerous) damaged three out of four respondents’ bikes and personal property. Not surprisingly, 227 of the 254 respondents wrote that the metal expansion joint covers make the bridge path more dangerous.
The DOT needs to remove the 26 dangerous bumps and replace them with smoother and safer expansion joint covers. This will improve path safety for the 1,500 people who walk and bike across the bridge each day. One option is to use the State DOT’s “Armorless Bridge Joint System,” which fills in the expansion joints with elastomers—blocks of rubber that can compress and expand—and provides a smooth ride and walk over the expansion joints.
The DOT cannot ignore the statistics or first hand accounts of people who crashed on the bridge. Bikers have suffered fractured jaws, clavicles and pelvises, broken ribs, dislocated clavicles, facial injuries requiring stitches and surgery and internal injuries. The bumps are a clear and present public safety hazard and need to go.
Commissioner Iris Weinshall
Read the latest news about the Williamsburg Bridge.
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