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Old 08-20-07, 06:48 AM   #1
Saintly Loser
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Triboro Bridge Freak Show

This isn't really a commuting story, I guess, but I'm posting here because this will be of interest to New York City commuters.

On Saturday morning my brother and I decided to ride from Astoria, in Queens, to Nyack, New York, up along the Hudson River. It's a pretty popular ride for city cyclists.

Our route took us over the Triboro Bridge. The section from Queens to Randalls'/Ward's Island was fine, as was the ride on the island to the bridge from there to Manhattan. We rode over the bridge. At the Manhattan end, where the bike/pedestrian path becomes extremely narrow, we encountered three of the sorriest-looking junkies I've ever seen in my life. They were crouched down, more or less blocking the path, and actually in the act of shooting up.

Needless to say, we didn't stop, just kept on going right through them.

Sad/scary thing is, on the return leg of the trip, about six hours later, they were still there. One was passed out, another was sitting on the side of the path, and the third was crouched down looking exactly like he was waiting for someone to come along so he could rob them.

Nasty stuff. Is there anyone here who regularly commutes over the Triboro? Is this junkie gathering a regular thing there, or just a one-time deal?
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Old 08-20-07, 08:05 AM   #2
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This isn't really a commuting story, I guess, but I'm posting here because this will be of interest to New York City commuters.

On Saturday morning my brother and I decided to ride from Astoria, in Queens, to Nyack, New York, up along the Hudson River. It's a pretty popular ride for city cyclists.

Our route took us over the Triboro Bridge. The section from Queens to Randalls'/Ward's Island was fine, as was the ride on the island to the bridge from there to Manhattan. We rode over the bridge. At the Manhattan end, where the bike/pedestrian path becomes extremely narrow, we encountered three of the sorriest-looking junkies I've ever seen in my life. They were crouched down, more or less blocking the path, and actually in the act of shooting up.

Needless to say, we didn't stop, just kept on going right through them.

Sad/scary thing is, on the return leg of the trip, about six hours later, they were still there. One was passed out, another was sitting on the side of the path, and the third was crouched down looking exactly like he was waiting for someone to come along so he could rob them.

Nasty stuff. Is there anyone here who regularly commutes over the Triboro? Is this junkie gathering a regular thing there, or just a one-time deal?
Why not call the cops? I don't get why people tolerate drug use so much. Clearly, it's dangerous for all involved.
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Old 08-20-07, 08:23 AM   #3
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Why not call the cops? I don't get why people tolerate drug use so much. Clearly, it's dangerous for all involved.

We did look for a cop when we got off the bridge. Couldn't find one. As to calling the cops, that's a pretty time-consuming procedure in NYC. I doubt that the 911 dispatchers, or the police department, would consider this an "emergency" call, since said junkies weren't actually holding a knife to anyone's throat. More likely they would consider it a "quality of life" call, which gets a much lower priority, so there would be a period of time waiting for the cops to show up (if they showed up).

And on the return trip, the junkies were just sitting there, or sleeping. No crime being committed at that actual moment (especially if they'd shot all the smack they had -- they wouldn't even be in possession of drugs).
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Old 08-20-07, 09:38 AM   #4
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loitering is a crime.
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Old 08-20-07, 10:05 AM   #5
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We did look for a cop when we got off the bridge. Couldn't find one. As to calling the cops, that's a pretty time-consuming procedure in NYC. I doubt that the 911 dispatchers, or the police department, would consider this an "emergency" call, since said junkies weren't actually holding a knife to anyone's throat. More likely they would consider it a "quality of life" call, which gets a much lower priority, so there would be a period of time waiting for the cops to show up (if they showed up).

And on the return trip, the junkies were just sitting there, or sleeping. No crime being committed at that actual moment (especially if they'd shot all the smack they had -- they wouldn't even be in possession of drugs).
++

If you don't live in NYC, you don't get it, but that's how it is.

I only have ridden the TBB during the NYC Century and must say that I never saw a junkie on the bridge on those occasions.
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Old 08-20-07, 10:31 AM   #6
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I rode the Wards Island bridge (@ 111th St.?) yesterday. Didn't see any junkies, but I did see some horses. They didn't look threatening though.
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Old 08-20-07, 10:59 AM   #7
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I rode the Wards Island bridge (@ 111th St.?) yesterday. Didn't see any junkies, but I did see some horses. They didn't look threatening though.
Don't know if that's the same bridge. This is the bridge from the island to Manhattan. Exits at 124th Street in Manhattan.

I'll probably go over the bridge again at some point this coming weekend. I'll see if the same junkies are there, or if they've invited a bunch of their junkie friends to join them. One of them was pretty recognizable, with facial tattoos. Looked like one of those crusty punks that used to pollute Tomkins Square back when I lived in the East Village.

The though of a needle stick just gives me the creeps.
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Old 08-20-07, 11:03 AM   #8
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I saw a couple college kids humping in a park - didn't have to ride around them, but weird to see nonetheless
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Old 08-20-07, 12:12 PM   #9
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Don't know if that's the same bridge. This is the bridge from the island to Manhattan. Exits at 124th Street in Manhattan.
I didn't go that far up so it's probably a different bridge. I took the bridge from around 111th and the FDR to Wards Island.
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Old 08-21-07, 01:52 PM   #10
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I've never seen junkies on the bridge. I probably wouldn't have bothered calling the cops, but should do - if only because lying comatose in the path is an inconvenience to others.
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Old 08-21-07, 02:06 PM   #11
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I doubt that the 911 dispatchers, or the police department, would consider this an "emergency" call, since said junkies weren't actually holding a knife to anyone's throat. More likely they would consider it a "quality of life" call, which gets a much lower priority, so there would be a period of time waiting for the cops to show up (if they showed up).
But it's not as though you have to sit there and wait for them, is it?
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Old 08-21-07, 02:32 PM   #12
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Why not call the cops? I don't get why people tolerate drug use so much. Clearly, it's dangerous for all involved.
People tolerate it because it is expensive and a waste of resources to chase after these people and put them through the court/prison system. Honestly i would rather the police put there time toward violent offenders. Maybe it would be different if this country tried to look at the drug problem as a public health issue instead of a criminal one.
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Old 08-22-07, 06:46 AM   #13
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But it's not as though you have to sit there and wait for them, is it?
Yeah, it kind of is like that. In any case, my experience as a lifelong New Yorker tells me that calling the cops would have been a waste of time and there would have been no response. I'm not saying that's the way it should be, but that's the way it is here.
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Old 08-22-07, 06:47 AM   #14
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I didn't go that far up so it's probably a different bridge. I took the bridge from around 111th and the FDR to Wards Island.
I think that bridge is a pedestrian-only bridge, right? I'll have to check that out if I discover the junkie convention is a regular thing on the Triboro.
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Old 08-22-07, 06:50 AM   #15
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People tolerate it because it is expensive and a waste of resources to chase after these people and put them through the court/prison system. Honestly i would rather the police put there time toward violent offenders. Maybe it would be different if this country tried to look at the drug problem as a public health issue instead of a criminal one.

Basically, I agree with you. I really do. But. . . open, public heroin use is a police problem, and the crime that inevitably follows is a police problem.

Ward's/Randall's Island is a popular picnic and sports spot for New Yorkers (from some of the poorer neighborhoods in the city). Lots of people walk, with small children, over that bridge to get from Manhattan to the island. What's going to happen when those junkies need a few bucks for the next fix? The junkie will quite likely turn into a violent offender. He/she will grab a purse, threaten someone, and so on.

By all means, let's put an end to addiction using the public health system. But let's keep the city's parks and streets safe for the people of the city at the same time.
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Old 08-22-07, 08:15 AM   #16
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it is expensive and a waste of resources to chase after these people and put them through the court/prison system. Honestly i would rather the police put there time toward violent offenders.
I think we would probably agree on most issues around this question, but I would say that 1) if I were to call the police, I would be expecting them to solve the "asshat lying across the damn footpath" problem (which is within their skill set) rather than the "opiate addiction" problem (which is not); and 2) as we keep hearing, NYC is the safest big city in the US. I am not sure that unaddressed violent crime (with the exception of domestic abuse) is actually a problem here.
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Old 08-22-07, 09:05 AM   #17
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I think that bridge is a pedestrian-only bridge, right? I'll have to check that out if I discover the junkie convention is a regular thing on the Triboro.
It's open to peds and bikes. It's got ramps to get on the bridge, not stairs. Problem is the bike path on the other side ends at some construction so w/o a mtb, it's hard to get through.
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Old 08-22-07, 09:54 AM   #18
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Basically, I agree with you. I really do. But. . . open, public heroin use is a police problem, and the crime that inevitably follows is a police problem.

Ward's/Randall's Island is a popular picnic and sports spot for New Yorkers (from some of the poorer neighborhoods in the city). Lots of people walk, with small children, over that bridge to get from Manhattan to the island. What's going to happen when those junkies need a few bucks for the next fix? The junkie will quite likely turn into a violent offender. He/she will grab a purse, threaten someone, and so on.

By all means, let's put an end to addiction using the public health system. But let's keep the city's parks and streets safe for the people of the city at the same time.

Hear! Hear!
We view public drunkenness as a law enforcement issue, even though the underlying alcoholism is looked at as a health problem.
Same diff.
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Old 08-22-07, 10:40 AM   #19
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I've been over the Triborough many times, and the Queens span has improved with the new ramp to Randall's, but I generally take the 59th Street Bridge instead. The 59th Street is just a lot better, even if it is less direct if I'm trying to head over to the GWB to the 9W bike superhighway.

I've found the Triborough ped path just isn't very well taken care of and not bike friendly (stairs, stairs, stairs...). Not that I've run into junkies shooting up on it, but they do have the rehab center on the island there.

I really only use the Triborough when Bronx bound these days... and watch out for the stairs on the east Bronx path. And the glass... always seems to be glass up there.
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Old 08-22-07, 11:03 AM   #20
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Yeah, it kind of is like that. In any case, my experience as a lifelong New Yorker tells me that calling the cops would have been a waste of time and there would have been no response. I'm not saying that's the way it should be, but that's the way it is here.
Well, I think I have to agree. They can't chase after every junkie in New York.

Although if people are lying across the path, I might still have called the police. Both for their safety and for the safety of cyclists using the path. I dunno.
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Old 08-22-07, 01:21 PM   #21
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In my opinion, you condone it if you ignore it. I realize that you might have bad experience with the police regarding this, but I think it's best to still try. Getting drugs off the streets makes it safer for cyclists and all involved.
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Old 08-22-07, 01:49 PM   #22
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Isn't the Triboro Bridge handled by TBTA, that has its own police dept, or am I getting my police depts mixed up? There are so many floating around the city...
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Old 08-22-07, 05:34 PM   #23
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I ride at night all of the time and through some sketchy neighborhoods. Just go fast and if some scumbag steps in front of you with bad intent, mow them down.
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Old 08-22-07, 06:20 PM   #24
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Why not call the cops? I don't get why people tolerate drug use so much. Clearly, it's dangerous for all involved.
WTF dude, shooting up in the middle of a deserted bridge crouched down on a urine soaked floor with a coupla buddies? That's what we call a good time in NYC.
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Old 08-22-07, 07:35 PM   #25
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In my opinion, you condone it if you ignore it. I realize that you might have bad experience with the police regarding this, but I think it's best to still try. Getting drugs off the streets makes it safer for cyclists and all involved.
Yeah, maybe. But believe me, the realities of New York City are that the cops have more urgent things to attend to before they get to busting some junkies who aren't actually menacing someone at that very moment. Living here, we learn to ignore a lot of things that people in other places wouldn't tolerate for a minute.

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]Isn't the Triboro Bridge handled by TBTA, that has its own police dept, or am I getting my police depts mixed up? There are so many floating around the city...
I think you're right -- the TBTA has its own police force. I've never actually known, or even seen, a TBTA cop in the flesh, though.
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