Van Cortlandt Park is the third largest park in New York City, and it sits squarely in the middle of my council district. The park’s playgrounds, fields and trails act as a backyard for the residents of the northwest Bronx.
Broadway, which runs along the west side of Van Cortlandt Park from West 242nd Street to the city line, should be the Prospect Park West of the Bronx, a grand boulevard and the gold standard of what you would want your street to look like. I believe so strongly in this that I have secured capital funds to add amenities to this section of Van Cortlandt Park.
Along with Sen. Jeffrey Klein, we have allocated more than $1.2 million to construct a playground just south of Mosholu Avenue. Additionally, I have allocated $250,000 to create a more welcoming entrance with plantings, benches and signage on West 261st Street. These amenities will draw more of our neighbors to Van Cortlandt Park.
Broadway’s outdated layout is not only unseemly, it encourages speeding and acts as a barrier to accessing Van Cortlandt Park. The antiquated road is also an impediment to the surrounding neighborhood. With a better design, Broadway would help the surrounding community attract more businesses, more residents, and continue to grow.
The transportation department estimates that more than 80 percent of vehicles are speeding during daytime peak hours. The New York Police Department reported that most of the speeding tickets issued in Community Board 8 are given out on Broadway.
From 2010 to 2014, there were 12 pedestrian deaths on the stretch of Broadway between West 242nd Street and the city line. Another 38 percent of pedestrians do not feel safe crossing Broadway.
In a 2015 survey, 44 percent of respondents said they come to the park less than once a month, or never. Yet 58 percent said they would come to the park more often if it were safer to cross Broadway.
Large trucks coming to and from Yonkers and the Major Deegan are huge culprits to speeding, and the dangerous consequences should not fall on residents of the northwest Bronx. Broadway is also close to several senior housing developments and several schools whose students regularly use the park.
If we don’t get the speeding on Broadway under control, we’re putting more lives at risk.
We must make improvements to Broadway to modernize the street and increase safety for pedestrians, motorists and everyone who uses the corridor. My neighbors and other park-goers should not feel like they are putting their lives at risk just so they can enjoy the park. And the residents of the northwest Bronx shouldn’t have to deal with an old-fashioned roadway in the middle of their community.
For a long time, there were no traffic controls or places for people to safely access Van Cortlandt Park between Manhattan College Parkway and West 251st Street. As a result, there were multiple accidents and fatalities along this stretch.
My colleagues in government and I advocated for the installation of traffic lights here, and with the help of the transportation department, we were able to install two traffic lights in December.
But there is more work to be done.
The transportation department recently made recommendations on how to make Broadway safer based on the proven techniques used in other areas of the city. Broadway has wide lanes and low traffic during off-peak hours, which makes it easy for drivers to speed. Narrower lanes would slow down traffic and make it easier for pedestrians to cross.
The transportation department also plans to target particularly dangerous intersections, and install improvements to make each one safer. I wholeheartedly support these plans.
Parents shouldn’t need to worry about their children’s safety when crossing the street to go to the park. Broadway should reflect the tranquility and beauty of the park to its east. As it is now, Broadway is too fast, too dangerous, and in desperate need of an update.
Now is the time to change that.
The author represents the 11th district on the city council, including Riverdale, Kingsbridge, Van Cortlandt Village, Bedford Park, Norwood, Wakefield and Woodlawn.