Making It Safer to Walk or Bike to Van Cortlandt Park By Taming Broadway in the Northwest Bronx

Shorter pedestrian crossings and a two-way protected bike lane are the key features of a 1.5 mile DOT project running between 242nd Street and the city line.

The DOT plan would shorten crossing distances and make room for a two-way protected bike lane. Image: DOT
The DOT plan would shorten crossing distances and make room for a two-way protected bike lane. Image: DOT

Despite its proximity to Van Cortlandt Park, Broadway north of 242nd Street feels like a highway, with upwards of 80 percent of motorists exceeding the speed limit. Between 2010 and 2014, 12 people — including 10 pedestrians — were killed in traffic crashes in the area.

Two years ago, Council Member Andrew Cohen asked for safety improvements on Broadway, and last night DOT presented a plan to narrow crossing distances and add a two-way protected bike lane along the park [PDF]. The Bronx Community Board 8 transportation committee is scheduled to vote on the project next month.

Between the Westchester County line and 246th Street, Broadway’s parking lanes are 13 feet wide. Crossing distances would be reduced 30 percent by narrowing those parking lanes to eight feet and trimming a couple of feet from the moving lanes. That street width would be repurposed as a two-way parking-protected bike lane along the east curb, with eight concrete pedestrian islands at bus stops. There would be no reduction in the number of general traffic lanes.

South of West 246th Street, where the roadway widens significantly and eventually runs under the elevated 1 train, the project calls for an unprotected southbound bike lane. Northbound cyclists would have to share the curbside lane with buses.

DOT's plan does not include protected bike lanes south of West 246th, where the corridor widens and runs under the elevated train. Image: DOT
DOT’s plan does not include protected bike lanes south of 246th, where Broadway widens and runs under the elevated train. Image: DOT

Eight bus lines from the city and Westchester County have stops in the project area, but Broadway is rife with illegal double-parking that blocks buses from directly accessing curbside stops.

To improve bus boarding, the project would convert parking spots to concrete bus stops. Overall, there would still be a net addition of three parking spots, but attendees were apoplectic that double-parking would become less convenient with the narrower lanes.

“All these people cared about were parking spots,” said Susan Brenner, who lives in the neighborhood and attended the meeting to speak out in support of the project. “They don’t care about bicyclists whatsoever.”

But that animosity didn’t drown out concerns about speeding and the lack of safe access to the park, Brenner said.

The project also includes targeted safety improvements at the intersections with Mosholu Avenue, the Henry Hudson Parkway, and Manhattan College Parkway, where, for example, DOT wants to close a slip lane and install “wedges” — painted curb extensions — to compel motorists to take turns more slowly.

DOT wants to close a slip lane and install new crosswalks, concrete islands, and "wedges" to protect pedestrians crossing there. Image: DOT
DOT wants to close a slip lane and install new crosswalks, concrete islands, and “wedges” to protect pedestrians crossing Broadway at Manhattan College Parkway. Image: DOT

Cohen attended last night’s meeting and said more streets in Riverdale should be like Prospect Park West, which has a two-way protected bike lane, but was non-committal about the bike lane in this proposal, according to Brenner.

“The councilman’s ultimate goal is to improve traffic and pedestrian safety on that corridor. If a bike lane is part of that proposal, that’s terrific,” Cohen’s chief of staff Daniel Johnson told Streetsblog today. “You have the third-largest park in New York City here, and Broadway is acting as a barrier for residents of the community to access it.”

Brenner, meanwhile, is thrilled about the prospect of a bike lane. At the moment, she said, there aren’t really any safe streets for biking in Riverdale: “Right now, there’s nothing really there, it’s empty, if you look at the bicycling lanes, for people who live in Riverdale, it’s so disconnected.”

  • ItsEasyBeingGreen

    Good: NYC finally discovers bus stop islands.
    Bad: Project gives up south of 246th Street.

    The northbound roadway is 1 foot narrower south of 246th Street. There’s no way to make the protected lane work for the full length? Buffer width isn’t specified on the cross section, but if it’s 3′ why not reduce to 2.5′ (like Jay Street) and narrow the bike lane by another half foot (like Williamsburg Street West).

    This wouldn’t be ideal but if the alternative is a 5′ unprotected lane sandwiched between large vehicles and support beams on one side and doorzone sharrows on the other, what do you think will encourage more cycling and safer outcomes for all users?

  • Kwyjibo

    “Overall, there would still be a net addition of three parking spots, but attendees were apoplectic that double-parking would become less convenient with the narrower lanes.”

    This is why DOT should go all-in on these “proposals” to begin with. They will never, ever appease the infantile “parking parking me me me!!!” narcissists, and these half-assed projects GET PEOPLE KILLED.

    Broadway under the 1 is a hellscape. Once again DOT wimps out when people need the most protection.

  • van_vlissingen

    Why is parking underneath an el even allowed?
    Post 9-11 it’s a security risk. DOT should remove parking along these corridors for security reasons.
    Of course for our purposes it could in one fell swoop allow us to transform these places.

  • Jeff

    Ugh, I’m all about getting “points on the board” (or maybe I’m not, to be honest I don’t even know anymore) but this seems pretty much useless, given that there’s zero connection to anything resembling a network with similar protection, especially with the wimping out south of 246th St. I do cycle this route from time to time (though mainly for funsies I must admit), and as an experienced cyclist I’d much rather take a lane on Broadway (especially going southbound/downhill), and if I were an inexperienced cyclist, well, I’d be nowhere near this stretch of Broadway given that there’s no way to get there for an inexperienced cyclist!

  • J

    Let’s implement this design on Dyckman Street!

  • Critical critic

    Still need a paved connection to the South County Trailway.

  • HamTech87

    This plan will also help commerce both within Riverdale and for south Yonkers. The South Broadway retail strip in Yonkers is great, and now people can easily bike from 242nd to there. Alternatively, lots of South Yonkers residents take car services to Riverdale because bus service is spotty outside main commuting times. This should fix that added congestion.
    One big request: Can a really robust bus shelter (with heat?) be constructed for Westchester Bee-Line Bus riders on Broadway near the 242nd subway station?

  • HamTech87

    It would be great if the bus stops were moved under the el at 242nd. The bus riders have no shelter whatsoever.

  • HamTech87

    Most of the length of Broadway from 242nd to Yonkers is unpriced parking, which is ridiculous. On afternoons and weekends, buses bring kids from schools to use the fields. But the buses have no place to go because cars park there forever for free.
    Can’t DOT create some commercial-meter bus parking during these time-periods, and then run the meters for motorists other hours? Just make sure there are a few “No Engine Idling” signs, too.

  • HamTech87

    A lot of people in Yonkers would take this route, or already do. Question is where to park bicycles near subway?

  • Vooch

    Fred heaven !

    would be a big relief for Hudson Greenway to send Fred’s all the way to Brewster. I’ve ridden to Brewster a couple of times. The trail would be Fred Heaven AND it just needs 1 1/2mile of paved bike path in Van CourtlAndc

  • Vooch

    genius

  • HamTech87

    I think the compromise design of the Van Cortlandt Park extension of the South County Trailway will be very narrow, demanding slow bicycling. Not sure it will be “Fred Heaven”.
    The South County is also showing its age, with older portions from Tuckahoe Road north getting seriously bumpy.
    And there is still the section to complete in Elmsford at Route 119 that will link the South and North County Trailways. http://www.lohud.com/story/news/local/westchester/2016/08/04/steps-announced-connect-south-county-trailway/88036368/

  • Vooch

    good point about the bumps on the South County section. However, the Hudson path above 96th also has tree roots.

    The Elmsgord break is short enough to be a minor deterrent to most Fred’s. It’s nasty by the Highway bridge with beaucoup glass & gravel. So perhaps too Fred unfriendly.

    Narrow never stopped any Fred; ‘on your left’ is their magic paen to the deity of everything sacred to Freddom.

    Agreed, might not appeal to enough Freds to make them abandon Hudson River path.

    Freds take over St. Nicholas on their way to The High Bridge

  • SJC112

    The protected bike lanes really have to go to the Broadway Bridge, and people should insist on this. It seems once again that public officials are getting in the way of sense. (And I’m referring to Andrew Cohen and others that are being squishy here). The public should not support just “any” plan, especially when it encourages something that takes away safety at 246th and puts people into traffic. They’re planning on things like the greenway going from 240th to 230th – not a good way to spend tax dollars since those plans may be years away, with an odd disconnected way to come down from Yonkers put in stone for years.

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