Mott Haven figures in pedestrian safety plan
City officials unveiled their new pedestrian safety plan for the Bronx at a Melrose senior center on Feb. 18, as part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero initiative to cut down on traffic fatalities.
Leon Senior Center on East 152nd Street had a rare afternoon in the spotlight as the officials came to announce plans to construct a new pedestrian island at the notoriously deadly intersection nearby at Jackson Avenue and Westchester Avenue later this year. That crossing, near the 2/5 Jackson Avenue subway stop, has been slated a Vision Zero Priority Area, due to its high pedestrian death and injury rates.
Although pedestrian fatality rates have dropped in the city over the past 30 years, rates in the Bronx have risen.
On average, 27 pedestrians die in the Bronx every year from traffic crashes, according to the city’s Department of Transportation, which blamed dangerous driver choices for playing a major role in most of the borough’s pedestrian fatalities. Driver recklessness played a role in 85 percent of pedestrian deaths in the Bronx, compared with 69 percent throughout the city, say transportation officials.
Police worked with traffic engineers and city residents at public meetings over 2014 to create the plan. It calls for establishing a profile of the borough’s most problematic corridors and intersections, in hopes of alleviating the perils they present.
“By using data derived from community input along with traffic statistics, Vision Zero engages a grassroots approach to addressing the need for safer streets,”said State Senator Jose Serrano, whose district includes Mott Haven and Melrose.
The plan promises to provide pedestrians more time to cross at key intersections; install additional lighting under elevated trains; and construct pedestrian islands at crossings where collisions have been most prevalent. In addition, the city says it will commit more resources to police oversight in dangerous areas; increase the number of speed limit signs; expand bike networks; and more cautiously plan for increased car vs. human pressures in high-growth areas like Melrose.
The transportation department is also planning major changes in Longwood, at the intersection of Intervale Avenue and Dawson Street. DOT officials say they will convert the currently one-way stretch on Dawson between Intervale and Longwood Avenue into a two-way street, construct a traffic roundabout, mark crosswalks, install curb extensions and add parking.
“It’s going to give a lot more predictability to the pedestrians that are crossing,” said the transportation department’s Bronx borough commissioner, Connie Moran, at a February community board 2 meeting in Longwood. To see the Bronx Borough Plan, click on the DOT’s website at www.nyc.gov/dot.