Why can’t I get paid to do something like this? Paint yellow lines on a walkway.

These yellow lines are new, or at least new to me, since the last time I walked over the Ed Koch/Queensboro Bridge. I guess the intent is to encourage bicyclists to stay on the right side of the bike lane. Just something new for bicyclists to ignore. Sorry for the cynicism, but seriously…

Yellow Lines on Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge

Yellow Lines on Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge

Any time I set foot on this or any bridge I feel a faint sense of entering survivalist mode. I ask myself if I have water, or food, and I make the bodily adjustment of moving from terra firma to, in the case of the Ed Koch/Queensboro, a relatively rickety and rattly feeling surface.

My stream of consciousness is probably identical every time, with mental flashes of disaster scenarios in which the bridge starts to buckle and collapse. That’s not a genuine fear of mine. If it was I wouldn’t be up there. But I consider it a primal instinct that most humans probably experience when stepping onto bridges, whether or not their conscious mind articulates it.

A couple of months ago these thoughts surfaced a little more urgently. On a Q32 bus from Manhattan to Queens the trip, which normally takes a few minutes, was stalled for over an hour by a group of protesters, dozens of them deliberately bringing traffic to a halt. If this had happened on a street it would probably have been possible to ask the driver to let you off. But on the bridge there would be nowhere safe to go.

I have never biked in this town and I don’t expect to. It just looks scary and dangerous, especially on paths like the Ed Koch/Queensboro, not designed with cohabitation of bikes and pedestrians in mind. One of the more notable things about the new Kosciuszko Bridge, was its ample room for both cyclists and pedestrians to co-exist without either side getting a little too close for comfort. Unfortunately that span connects nothing to nothing and access to it, through industrial areas of West Maspeth and Greenpoint, looks genuinely dangerous.

But oh, that view of Old Calvary.

The only other bridges I know of around here with physically separated bike and pedestrian paths are the Pulaski, which was retrofitted with a cement wall separating the two; and a portion of the Williamsburg Bridge, where for about ½ the span bikes use the north side lane and pedestrians the south.

I briefly dated a woman who was a biking evangelist, practically demanding that I get a bike. That relationship did not last, not strictly on account of her bikiness, although her zealous determination to get me on a bike was symptomatic of other personality conflicts we had. Between her and similarly determined bike evangelists, and the vitriol-spewing anger I see coming out of so many riders, I just don’t think I have the personality for biking, at least not in New York. I also doubt I’d be on the ball about taking care of a bike, or readily willing to put up the associated expenses of maintenance.

There’s been talk of converting the south lane, now reserved for cars, into a pedestrian-only path. My only complaint, should that ever actually happen, is that I’d have to cross Queens Plaza for access. Crossing Queens Plaza and its 400 lanes of traffic can be daunting unless you use the above-ground subway station as an overpass, or the underground subway station as an underpass. I avoid stairs whenever possible, and would have to use them for either of those options when accessing the bridge from the Queens side.

The first time I crossed the Queensboro, and in fact the first time it came to my attention that you even could walk over that bridge, was on 9/11, when I walked from the CNN offices at 9th Avenue and 34th Street in Manhattan all the way back to Astoria, an epic distance for me in those days but the sort of trek I do all the time now without even cracking a sweat.

This is the first photo I ever took from that span, on 9/11, as the fallen towers smoldered.

9/11 on the Queensboro Bridge

9/11 on the Queensboro Bridge