High 5 for The Bronx 5
The intersection of 181st and University in The Bronx is a broad expanse of asphalt where cars speed, pedestrians cannot make the light and everyone is confused as to who has the right of way. Indeed, the librarian at the Francis Martin Branch of The New York Public Library, located on one corner of the intersection, says that she "has seen so many near misses" of cars hitting her patrons-especially children-that she "has stopped counting." But, thanks to the help of the former and current Bronx Borough President and the DOT, she may soon be able to stop counting near accidents altogether.
During his last year in office, former Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer commissioned T.A. to study the five most dangerous and difficult intersections for children. Dubbed The Bronx 5, the study builds on the momentum and success of The Bronx Safe Routes to School program, a comprehensive school-based traffic-calming program. T.A. and The Bronx BP's office adapted the site selection, consensus building and design techniques developed during the Safe Routes to School program to tackle some of the Bronx's most dangerous intersections:
For many of these intersections, overly wide and complicated intersections designed to allow cars to turn at high speeds conspire to make crossing difficult and dangerous for pedestrians. In order to make these intersections more pedestrian-friendly, the City needs to use long-term solutions like reclaiming the extra road space for wider sidewalks and planted medians. More immediately, the City should re-time the lights to allow pedestrians to begin their crossing ahead of turning traffic. For example, on 181st and University Avenue, The Bronx 5 recommends that the City considerably narrow the travel lanes; it can use paint and bollards until the street is due for reconstruction.
The Bronx 5 project has been championed by Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion, who supported the Safe Routes to School program as a councilmember. Indeed, one of the first things that he did when he took office as the new Bronx BP was to take on the first of these most dangerous intersections-181st and University Avenue. The DOT responded quickly to BP Carrion's request for help with this dangerous intersection, agreeing to meet and sending out a team to study the traffic patterns and propose changes. The result of that study is due out soon.
To view the full Bronx 5 report, visit www.transalt.org/campaigns/reclaiming/bronx5/
The Juniper Park Association in Queens and the East 23rd Street Block Association in Flatbush, Brooklyn have a new ally in their battle for calmer streets. They are the winners of T.A.'s first-ever Traffic Calming Grant program (see T.A. Magazine, Spring 2002). Each group will receive $2,000 in consulting time, $500 for printing and materials related to the project and an NSN Traffic Buster Tool Kit with a noise meter, measuring wheel and counter.
Traffic Calming expert Michael King will work with the neighborhood groups to develop plans to slow speeding cars, improve pedestrian safety and reduce traffic. The East 23rd Street Block Association began its work with a study tour of their neighborhood along with King and representatives from Assemblymember Rhoda Jacobs' office. Jacobs is very concerned about the safety problems facing the block association and is interested in dedicating her multimodal funds to a neighborhood traffic calming project. The study tour assessed the conditions that pedestrians-especially children from the local public school-face every day. These include speeding along Farragut and Foster Avenue and the intersection of Ocean and Foster, where cars routinely crash onto the sidewalks trying to beat the light for red turns. The block association is surveying speeding and the number of crashes in the area while T.A. and the consultant draw up recommendations.