Council Member Andy Cohen Knows Broadway Won’t Get Safer If It Stays Wide and Fast

After a DOT traffic-calming plan got a rough reception from Bronx Community Board 8, Cohen and Assembly Member Jeffrey Dinowitz said they remain supportive.

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

Will DOT make Broadway a safe street for people walking to Van Cortlandt Park and a viable bike route for the northwest Bronx? The agency’s plan for this Riverdale speedway got a rough reception at Bronx Community Board 8 last night, but Council Member Andy Cohen, who helped initiate the process to fix Broadway, said he still supports the plan.

Broadway is designed like a highway, with multiple traffic lanes in each direction cutting people off from the park. Since 2010, 12 people — 10 of whom were walking — have been killed in traffic collisions on Broadway north of 242nd Street.

The DOT plan would shorten crossing distances 30 percent by narrowing extra-wide parking lanes and making room for a two-way protected bike lane along the east curb [PDF].

About 70 people turned out last night, with a slight majority vocally opposed to the plan. But there was a substantial contingent of people who want the redesign to happen as well, including Assembly Member Jeffrey Dinowitz, who said he felt compelled by the loss of life on Broadway to support the project:

One of the speakers was Bike Snob himself, Eben Weiss, who posted a must-read recap this morning:

It does something to your soul to hear your neighbors express hostility towards something that is ultimately so vital to your (and their) well-being. It really sucks to find out the owner of the place you take your kids for pizza after the park is against the whole plan because “a bike lane won’t work here.”

CB 8 chair Daniel Padernacht, who facilitated the meeting, came prepared with a resolution rejecting the DOT plan in favor of a litany of complaints for the agency to address instead, mostly reiterating the kvetching at an April meeting on the project.

“I lost track of all the things that he had in the resolution,” Transportation Alternatives Bronx organizer Erwin Figueroa told Streetsblog. “Every single complaint that people brought at the April meeting, he basically put all of that together into the resolution. He didn’t take into account anything that was said at the meeting last night.”

Council Member Andy Cohen.
Council Member Andy Cohen.

That did not sit well with Cohen, who asked DOT to study traffic-calming on Broadway in 2015 and supports the plan the agency put forward. Cohen called out Padernacht for rushing through his resolution, Figueroa said.

Speaking to Streetsblog this morning, Cohen reiterated his support for the project. He plans to meet with DOT reps next week to discuss how to move forward.

“The genesis of the plan started from a community engagement exercise,” Cohen said. “I think that DOT should listen to the community and hear their concerns, but I also think that DOT should be constrained to best practices and things that will actually make the street safer.”

Cohen thinks the the main source of antagonism is people’s attachment to double-parking, which the existing extra-wide parking lanes enable. He realizes, however, that narrowing the roadway is essential to the redesign’s success.

“I think that the street is too fast, is too wide and has got a lot of unsafe crossings and design,” Cohen said. “I asked the DOT to come up with a safety plan, and this is what they produced.”

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Jessica Haller has the StreetsPAC endorsement. Eric Dinowitz, another top competitor, revealed through some of his comments why he did not. But let's let the candidates speak for themelsves!