RIVERDALE, the Bronx (PIX11) — The city’s Department of Transportation made recent street safety improvements in Riverdale following a series of car crashes and injuries, but residents claim the changes make the streets more dangerous.
The streets in question are along Riverdale Avenue from West 254th Street to West 263rd Street.
“I want it back the way it was is what I want,” Riverdale resident Theresa Fleming said.
The former four-lane avenue at West 256th Street shared one lane with cyclists on each side and has been reduced to one lane each way making room for bike lanes.
“I think it’s a terrible idea, but they did it anyway,” said Roger Parson, another Riverdale resident.
Residents say the new changes will impact traffic and safety negatively. New York State Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz also notes these changes were completed in less than two weeks.
“We know that when they want to do that, they are capable of doing it,” Dinowitz said. “Yet somehow every other project in our community, it takes weeks and even months for that to happen.”
With multiple schools in the area, parents tend to double park for pick-up and drop-off and community members fear what double parking will look like in a single lane.
“We had public meetings about this and my impression was that the general feeling of the community was that this was not a good idea,” Parson added.
Dinowitz believes a left turn signal should’ve been added on West 256th Street and West 259th Street.
“If the DOT would’ve agreed to do those two left signals which myself, the councilman, [and] the community board all have asked for repeatedly, we believe that would’ve gone a long way towards improving safety without those whole convoluted plan that they just did,” Dinowitz said.
In a presentation to the community board earlier this year, DOT reported that from 2015 to 2019, there were 66 injuries. Of those injuries, 26 involved pedestrians and two of them were deadly incidents involving elderly pedestrians. There was also one motor vehicle fatality during that time.
DOT said it completed similar projects throughout the city, which resulted in a decrease by as much as 47 percent in total injuries.
The residents hope that changes can still be made to their liking. Laura Spalter, chair of Bronx Community Board 8, encourages them to give consistent feedback.
“Since it is just paint, maybe in a year it could be re-evaluated,” Spalter said. “Has it been successful, is it a failure? Why? Why not?”
Not all residents though are against the changes. When Dinowitz pointed out an ambulance having to go in the opposite lane to get to its destination, one man – who wished to remain anonymous – explained that even if the four lanes were still in use, the ambulance would’ve had to still dip into the opposite lane anyway if both of the northbound lanes were occupied with vehicles.
Elected officials say that they will be in the area on Thursday for the first day of school to see how the new changes play out when parents are double-parked in a single lane for pick-up and drop-off.
DOT Spokesperson Vin Barone told PIX11 News in a statement:
“DOT is proud to deliver a project that improves safety for all road users on Riverdale Avenue. We are excited to implement a design that reduces speeding, calms traffic, and slows turning drivers on the street while creating an important new connection for the borough’s bike network.”