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Andrew Cohen

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

2:52 PM EDT on April 26, 2017

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."

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