The city is about to resurface the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge, but for Queens cyclist, Rafael Aviles, it is too little too late.
On May 22, Aviles flew over his handlebars and skidded on the asphalt after his front wheel wedged into a two-inch crack in the middle of the cratered surface of the forelorn bridge.
“I was riding normally,” said Aviles. “My front wheel went into a crack. It got stuck in little crack. I flew in the air.”
Aviles was treated for 12 hours at a hospital, where he received 40 stitches and was treated for a fractured hand and nerve damage on his neck. If that weren’t enough, he lost his bike, forced to leave it at the bridge when he was picked up.
“My injuries were bad,” said Aviles. “I was bleeding all over my face, but I was conscious the whole time.”
Aviles said he was riding in the middle of the bridge because he felt safer from the trucks that dominate the span, which has no painted bike lane.
“There was a lot of glass on the right side and [drivers] weren’t letting me ride along the right side of the bridge, so I rode in the middle,” said Aviles.
The bridge’s pockmarked surface and gaps are notorious to the cycling community, whose members have complained for several years. This month, the city will begin resurfacing the bridge, closing one lane of traffic for two weeks. The entire process is expected to take place over the next nine months, with the painting of new bicycle lanes on both sides of traffic the final step.
Aviles, who describes himself as “addicted to bicycles,” hopes that his accident will at least spare others from a similar fate. He said he would continue to use the bridge because it is the fastest way to get to Williamsburg from his home in Jackson Heights.
“I’m not looking to make a lot of money [suing the city],” said Aviles. “I just want to make sure they cover the crack and nobody gets hurt again.”