Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge
Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge
March 10, 2010
Keith Nelson on a 26", Michael Richter on a 24", Kyle Petersen on a 29", Rob Hickman on a 26", Daryll John on a 20"
It's not hard, not far to reach, we can unicycle to Rockaway Beach.
A one wheel tribute to Dee Dee, Johnny, and Joey Ramone.
With temperatures in the high 50's and a record 5 riders, the NYC Unicycle Bridge Tour headed to Rockaway Beach pedalling across both the Addabbo and the Cross Bay bridges. We started the 13.1 mile tour in a quiet neighborhood in the Howard Beach section of Queens. Behind a facade of pizzerias and banquet halls sat a neighborhood that appeared to have a block association creed providing an architectural and landscaping cohesion. Each house contained a unique yet similar gaudy style, decked out with fountains, stone elephants, turtles, and the like.
Keith reminded us about the three block rule - never criticize someone's house (or business, a performer, venue...) until you're at least 3 blocks away from it. This was not a "Family" neighborhood to talk trash (shhh).
Kyle was on his brand new 29" wheel, effortlessly zipping figure eights around the group. Daryll pedaled furiously on a 20" carrying a shoulder bag loaded with provisions. Richter, recovering from a night of little sleep and plenty of beverage rolled on 24" while puffing cigarettes, sipping coffee, and cranking into many a story. Rob was riding 26" and was able to add multiple free mounts to his personal journey. Keith enjoyed his 26" sitting on an air seat.
The first social encounter was a schoolyard full of children on recess. The staff had quieted the children down as we rolled down the street. At first the reaction was a trickle, one by one the kids noticed us, as they ran to the fence that bordered the street. But within seconds, the pitch had reached near Attica levels. Five men on unicycles pumping fists in the air; screams of sheer delight and excitement from hundreds of children; teachers running around in complete panic; the circus had come to town. The kids completely lost they're minds, yelling and screaming, it had become a day to celebrate. It was later learned from the crossing guards, that the school administration was never able to quiet the kids back down after that, and that they had to send them home early that day for their parents to deal with.
We approached the water's edge and headed for the Addabbo bridge. We would be riding through the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, a unit of Gateway National Recreation Area. A huge mound reminded us that the area's previous purpose was that of a garbage dump. The Addabbo crossing was uneventful. Sea shells littered the unicycle lane (must have been left by Bay Gulls). The vast bay surrounded us. Manhattan island could be seen far off in the distance. We arrived on Broad Channel island. The first several miles is a nature preserve and bird sanctuary. An eagle's nest was spotted perched atop a pole. Canadian Geese appreciate the treasures of U.S. marshes. The eastern part of the island is inhabited by homo sapiens. Protecting the human population on the island was a howitzer and American Legion Hall post 1404. A picture of the unicycles in front of the howitzer was irresistible. Kyle found climbing on the gun even more tempting. Keith and Ricther took note of how truely American the setting was, even down to the giant sand filled urns containing Budwisers, cigarette butts, empty packs of Marlboros and Senecas, and an empty pack of trident. Rob was nervous that our antics were attracting too much attention, especially when two large dually pick-up trucks pulled up to the front of the Legion. This was a land of captains, buccanneers and playboys, every house having at least one boat parked behind it, ranging from deluxe yachts to dingys, row boats to corsairs.
And so we continued on to the Cross Bay Bridge. It is a much larger span than the Addabbo. Four wheel vehicles were force to pay a toll to cross. After a bit of confusion we were able to locate the cycle and pedestrian crossing. On the other side was Far Rockaway, a barrier island and subway accessible beach made famous by the Ramones. Unlike the Ramones, Rockaway island was quiet. The lobster house was closed. Boardwalk establishments were boarded up. We headed to the beach. Wheels were dunked into the salty surf, Richter tested the water's temperature and Daryll impressed us with his sand unicycling at water's edge. The group collected sea glass and shells and no unicycles were lost at sea. We pedaled down the boardwalk, and posed in front of a large mosaic whale. Through the support of the local artists, the whale was getting a face lift.
After nearly 7 miles, we were over half way and in need of nourishment. And so we went in search of a watering hole. We settled on the Rockaway Beach Inn, where pints of Budweiser were only $2. And above the bar was a mermaid.
The Penta-pack of one wheelers saddled up for the return journey. Pick-up from the ride was a bit more of a challenge than expected. The excitement of the ride meant that none had taken specific note of where drop off occurred and these neighborhood mini mansions all looked alike.
The Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge (originally Cross Bay Bridge or Cross Bay Parkway Bridge) in New York City, is a toll bridge that crosses from Broad Channel in Jamaica Bay to the Rockaway Peninsula, and is located in Queens. It was built by the New York City Parkway Authority and opened on on June 3, 1939, before the authority was merged into the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority (TBTA). The bridge was a part of a program to develop Jamaica Bay as a recreational area instead of an industrial port. The 1939 bridge was a low-level bascule bridge. Reconstructed and opened to traffic on May 28, 1970, the new bridge is a high level fixed bridge carrying six traffic lanes and a sidewalk on the east side. This allowed boats to pass under it without causing delays because of the lifting the of the bascule bridge.
As of March 16, 2008, the toll charge for a two-axle passenger vehicle crossing in either direction was $2.50 (cash), $1.67 (token), and $1.50 (E-ZPass), with discounts for Rockaway and Broad Channel residents.
On July 12, 2009, the toll charge for a two-axle passenger vehicle crossing in either direction increased to $2.75 (cash), $1.83 (token), and $1.71 (E-ZPass from a New York State toll agency). E-ZPasses from other agencies are charged the cash rate.
Rockaway and Broad Channel residents pay $1.54 per trip with tokens, and cross for free with E-ZPass, since the $1.13 resident E-ZPass toll is rebated immediately after it is charged.
The bridge is owned by the City of New York and operated by the TBTA, an affiliate agency of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.