Don't dismiss street plans for Riverdale Avenue just yet


(re: “CB8 puts brakes on merchant traffic plan,” Dec. 7)

I have been a member of the North Riverdale Merchants Association and its pro-bono attorney since 2012. I am writing to address inofrmation that is missing from this paper's Dec. 7 article.

Last July, the association finalized its “Riverdale Streetscape Report,” which includes beautification and traffic safety ideas for Riverdale and Mosholu avenues. The report asked the transportation department to implement 14 traffic safety measures and study five long-term solutions.

Expert engineers developed the traffic safety ideas in conversation with community leaders, schools and property owners. Everyone agreed on the desperate need to improve both commercial streets.

The resulting ideas reflect the DOT’s extremely successful “Vision Zero” traffic safety program, which is saving lives and revitalizing main streets. The report is available at RiverdaleBronx.nyc, and was subject to two years of meetings and analysis.

The article misses these important details.

Soon after the finalization of the report, the community board invited the association to make a courtesy presentation. We did so on Oct. 17. All public comments are now available as Exhibit B to the online report. As I explained at the meeting, the association has no formal application before the DOT or the community board. I was, therefore, surprised and disappointed by the board’s decision to schedule a traffic committee vote on the report without notice to the association.

I also was disappointed by this paper’s coverage. The article did not reflect the years of study, the extremely limited review provided by the committee, the board’s advisory role in city decisions, the strong support for improvements (outside the board), and the actual process that the DOT will use to study the report.

Since the article, the board has issued its resolution on the report, and I’d like to address that as well. I’m pleased that the board endorsed most of the beautification and traffic safety ideas in the report. But the resolution contains mistakes about the three ideas that the board rejected.

Here are the facts.

• The resolution rejects the creation of five new pedestrian crosswalks, allegedly because they would be located at uncontrolled locations (i.e., no stop signs), or result in loss of parking. The report concluded the opposite — it expects the locations to be controlled, and for DOT to balance pedestrian safety with parking spaces.

• The resolution demands the DOT avoid study of a change to traffic on Riverdale Avenue (i.e., the “road diet”). In fact, the report takes no position on a road diet, and simply asks the DOT to study that and any other safety measures.

• The resolution rejects limits on truck traffic on West 259th Street. In fact, any limits on trucks would never extend to local deliveries.

As if it weren’t obvious to all, Riverdale Avenue is not safe, functional or attractive. While there may be disagreement about solutions, demanding an end to engineering studies, rejecting the facts and shutting down public debate is never acceptable.

City officials and agencies don’t need to follow the votes of the community boards, because those votes are advisory only. The only way the board is going to get the city to take its votes seriously will be by showing they are based on careful study, facts and broad community outreach.

That simply did not happen here.

I therefore call on the DOT to study the ideas in the report, and others, to save lives, beautify and support local businesses, schools and residents.

Christopher Rizzo,