New Refuge Islands for Bronx Pedestrians & Bus Riders

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Streetsblog reader Ed Ravin sends along a photo of a new pedestrian refuge island that has recently emerged beneath an elevated subway platform in the Bronx. While the new sidewalks make bus riders’ lives a bit easier (and, perhaps, longer-lasting), Ed also has some ideas for additional improvements. He writes:

Bus passengers on streets under elevated subways have long suffered with the paradox of a bus stop that is one lane into the roadway. If you want to be seen by the bus driver, you need to stand in the middle of the asphalt next to an el pillar, while cars and trucks pass in front of you in the main travel lane and occasionally behind you in the curbside lane.

The "el-pillar bus stop" is the norm for major Bronx arteries like Broadway and Jerome Ave that run under the el, with an occasional exception like the temporary sidewalk extension at Jerome Ave and Fordham Road installed several years ago.

But perhaps as part of a PlaNYC initiative, recent construction in the Bronx is creating at least three safer versions of the "el-pillar bus stop." The photo above shows Broadway and West 238th St under the #1 line where new concrete islands are being built to give bus riders a safe place to wait. Similar construction is underway at Broadway and West 231st Street, and at Jerome Avenue and Mosholu Parkway (where renovations at the #4 line station will also re-open the southern subway entrance for the first time since its abandonment 30 years ago, putting subway riders a block closer to a heavily-used bus stop).

Though these islands are a big improvement, one has to wonder about the DOT’s thought processes. The newly built island on the northbound side of Broadway at 238th Street has an interesting mid-island pedestrian ramp, but it’s sure to get blocked by parked cars if that little curbside lane stays open to vehicular traffic. On the other hand, maybe the DOT is thinking of relocating the crosswalk to that spot, as the current crosswalk leaves people in the middle of an empty sea of asphalt on the west side of Broadway, defended only by a bunch of thermoplastic stripes and splatters of pigeon droppings.

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