Over a hundred people turned out for a Vision Zero town hall in the Bronx on Tuesday, Bronx News 12 reports. The event was hosted by freshman City Council Member Ritchie Torres at the Bronx Library Center on East Kingsbridge Road. Council Member Vanessa Gibson, DOT Borough Commissioner Constance Moran, and representatives from NYPD were also on hand.
Norwood resident Jay Shuffield, who helped lead the push for pedestrian safety measures at Williamsbridge Oval, described the forum as “generally productive.”
“There was widespread appreciation for the physical improvements that DOT has been installing, but recurring complaints about NYPD efforts,” Shuffield wrote in a recap for Streetsblog.
Shuffield said Rich Gans, chair of Transportation Alternatives’ Bronx committee, asked NYPD for more failure to yield enforcement, “noting that anytime a driver honks at a pedestrian crossing with the signal they should automatically be cited.” Gans pointed to the need for safer bus stops underneath elevated train tracks throughout the borough, as passengers currently are forced to wait between lanes of auto traffic. Moran replied that DOT is making improvements at some stops, Shuffield said. “There [was] a good [number] of specific intersections that people brought up, and Commissioner Moran was able to provide updates on some of them and DOT took note to look into some others.”
“NYPD did not seem as receptive to taking notes,” wrote Shuffield. “They had good news to share in response to some comments, but it was clear they were there to tell us what they were doing, not to listen to our ideas. One lady described the value of officers on bicycles and asked if the NYPD could do that. They basically just responded that is not something they plan to do.”
When DOT reps were asked if street safety would be component of major development projects in the Bronx, such as Kingsbridge Armory, Shuffield said, “it sounded like there hadn’t been much thought yet in terms of coordinating new development with Vision Zero, but this struck me as another case where [DOT was] listening.”
Laura Solis of Bike New York, shown in the above video, offered to bring bike safety programs to local schools. She likened biking through the intersection of Devoe and East Tremont Avenues in the West Farms area as “a game of chicken,” and advocated for adding bike lanes on arterials to slow drivers. Others brought up dangerous conditions on Grand Concourse and near Co-Op City, according to the Bronx Chronicle.
Another resident complained about a car dealer that illegally stores vehicles on the street at E. 183rd Street and Park Avenue, and there was some discussion about the need for more TEAs to move traffic, which Shuffield said didn’t really pertain to street safety.
On the topic of enforcement, Shuffield told NYPD he sees off-duty cops routinely flout parking laws in view of TEAs. “The NYPD responded by deflecting, and telling me that I don’t see how seriously they take enforcement, that I don’t see how they get grilled downtown about locations where they are having accidents,” he wrote. Shuffield said he replied that data don’t show violations that are not enforced. At that point, “Council Member Torres stepped in to emphasize the need to change the culture, and made the point that we need to stop referring to crashes as ‘accidents.’”
More Vision Zero events are planned in the Bronx in the coming weeks, with Gibson scheduled to host a town hall on April 8.