The motorcycle is the perfect vehicle for urban environments. it is small, nimble, relatively, efficient, and you can always find a place to park. On a recent trip into the city, I experienced all of those benefits, but I was undone by a mighty urban beast of legendary fame.
There are seven miles of roadway in the US which represent the very worst in motoring experiences. The very name of it strikes fear into the hearts of men and beast alike. 10 time Paris-Dakar winner Stephan Peterhansel said of this road “For zis road I am very afraid”. The best that has ever been said about it is, “I got through with only minor issues”. In 30 years of using this road, I have never made it through unscathed, and this includes all hours of the military clock.
It is a funnel point for the entire northeast. 150,000 vehicles pass through every day. It is even more of a funnel point for trucks which cannot use NY Parkways, so it is probably the busiest commercial corridor in the country. Fully laden trucks are hard on roads, so they exacerbate the problem. In 2007 and 2008, Inrix, a real-time traffic service, declared the road to have four out of five of the worst intersections (exits) in the country. Impressive, yes?
The shoulder is 6 inches wide and has a combo of broken glass, discarded hyperdermic needles, shards of tire-ripping plastic, and spilled nuclear waste. The road surface has a topographical profile unmatched by the Andes or the grand canyon. Modern SUVs have a special suspension mode named after this road. When activated, a Military transport helicopter picks up your vehicle and carries it to safety. There are websites dedicated to documenting crashes on this road, and a movie starring Robert DeNiro was filmed nearby (Fort Apache).
On two wheels this corridor is like running the gauntlet. Even the cars that try to stay in their lane are dipping, heaving, bobbing, weaving. It turns every vehicle into a mad max machine trying to kill you. Horns bleat, people abandon the road in sudden and dangerous desperation, parts fall off and become impossible to clean up due to the traffic volume, all of the overpasses look like they might drop an I-beam at any time. If this were a video game, it would be rejected as too unrealistic.
Because of all of this, the road clogs, and clogging leads to blockages, which really backs things up. Because there are no shoulders, police, fire, ambulance, and tow vehicles take forever to get to the scene. I have been stuck on this road more than once while entrepreneurial individuals walked among the cars selling water, Gatorade, cocaine, and firearms.
Then you get to the GW. It has expansion joints that are more properly called expansion jaws. Because it has two levels, it has exits right, left, up, and down. Because of the confluence of roadways coming on and off the bridge, your GPS says “Can I have some of that Cocaine?”. It costs $12 one-way to get into New York and begin your seven miles of misery. It is free to get out, but chances are you left more than $12 in parts behind you. If you do the simple math, assuming only half the traffic comes into NY, the GW collects a little less than $1Million per day. You would think that by now, a few, just a few, of those dollars would have made their way to the Cross Bronx Expressway.