Full House at First Bronx Vision Zero Town Hall


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.

  • Jesse

    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.”

    This.

    I would like to extend that to any driver who honks at another driver who is waiting for someone to cross with the light.

    Or let’s just go all the way: cite any driver who honks at any pedestrian or cyclist for any reason other than the fact that the car’s brakes have malfunctioned and the car literally cannot stop. Honestly, if you have to time to honk then you have time to brake and your instinct should be to avoid hitting anyone, not chasing them out of “your” way or teaching them a lesson.

  • Jesse

    One more thing. If you can’t brake safely for jaywalkers or cyclists then you’re driving too fast for NYC.

  • Thank you, Ms. Solis, for bringing more attention to the intersection of Devoe and East Tremont.

    I would like to dispute, however, your focus on adding bike lanes to arterial roads as a traffic-calming measure.

    What do these streets have in common:

    University Ave north of the Washington Bridge;

    East 169th St from Bronx River to Boston Road;

    Grand Concourse north of 161st St;

    Grant Highway from Jerome to University;

    Southern Blvd south of the zoo.

    They are all arterials where motorists drive heedlessly, and they all have bike lanes. I don’t think this traffic calming strategy has worked so far in the Bronx, and I would prefer not to have more people getting mauled by motor vehicles while failed approaches to traffic safety are repeatedly touted in meetings as effective.

  • Jeff

    Just out of curiosity, could anyone provide me a street view link of “passengers currently … forced to wait between lanes of auto traffic” at bus stops underneath of elevated train lines? Just having trouble envisioning this. Is it by design, or simply in practice that passengers need to step off the curb and go beyond the pillars of the el in order to be visible to the bus driver and ensure the bus stops?

  • Westchester Ave & Morrison Ave, in the Bronx. Orient the viewer so you are facing east and you will see a little island under the north side of the elevated platform, with a railing on one side. That’s where the bus stops.

    Unfortunately, there’s nobody waiting there in GSV. Bx4 must have just passed.

  • jwcbklyn

    because of the columns in the road the bus can’t actually pull over to the curb. If you poke around on Jerome Av, Westchester Av or White Plains Rd in the Bx you’ll see plenty of people standing in the road. Not really an issue in BK or Qns, where the columns come down in the sidewalk

  • If you look west on Westchester Ave from the same Morrison Ave corner, you can see the Bx27 stopping.

  • You never saw The French Connection, filmed on 86th St in Brooklyn? Plenty of columns there.

    http://youtu.be/YoPI0MRAVB4

  • Jeff

    Thanks! Wow, they really do make transit riders go through hell just to squeeze in a few more parking spaces!

  • Crazytrainmatt

    To take one of your examples, the grand concourse, I think this is entirely due to failure of implementation. The bike lane is between the traffic and parking lanes, meaning that the frontage road is still sized like a freeway in the sections between double parked vehicles. Had the lane been installed between parking and the curb, like those on the avenues in Manhattan, double parking would no longer affect bike traffic and the frontage road would be narrowed down to a much safer width.

  • AnoNYC

    Those bicycle lanes should be parking protected, complete with pedestrian islands. That would impact the traffic behavior because as it stands, drivers typically disregard the markings.

  • AnoNYC

    Bus stops under the El could definitely benefit from better signage and very obvious markings and of course bollards to prevent those that like to change lanes through them. I’m sure others may have plenty more suggestions.

  • 1ifbyrain2ifbytrain

    The B1 stops in Bensonhurst along 86th St. beneath the D train are exactly as you describe. It is by design. The stops themselves are designated by a rectangle painted on the roadbed, the sign is on the pillar. You can get an idea from this video, the bus proceeds down the center lane. Passengers must cross the arterial lane to flag down the bus and board. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=869Yav7N6nw

  • R
  • Guest

    I wouldn’t go quite that far. Almost… but not quite.

    I think it’s fair for a driver who actually has the right-of-way to honk politely if a pedestrian appears to be entering the roadway without yielding appropriately.

    There are so many automobile abuses we need to address, but I think people who do have a legitimate reason to drive in the city should be able to proceed safely down their lane when it is their turn without being cut off by rude pedestrians who refuse to wait their turn. We do need civility on all sides. A modest honk in that situation to remind the offending party seems ok, IMHO.

  • Jonathan

    I think we agree. Failure is failure.

    For the Concourse, why not have a medial park like on Allen Street in Manhattan, and get rid of the frontage roads altogether?

  • You might think a “modest honk” to assert right-of-way seems ok, but it’s illegal and punishable by a $350 fine.

    I think it’s not ok for two reasons.

    First, it affects everyone else in the area. Usually hundreds of innocent people living or working there have to listen to one motorist after another asserting their sometimes legitimate right-of-way against pedestrians or other motorists.

    Second, it’s a double standard. Pedestrians have no such recourse for rude motorists who refuse to wait their turn, as often happens. Motorists clog intersections and crosswalks by trying to cross out of turn. We can do nothing but silently fume. Why should motorists have a right to an ear-piercing device to assert their right-of-way when pedestrians do not?

    The law is clear: they don’t have that right. Where the city has fallen down is in using technology and policy to promote the law.

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