POINT OF VIEW

Planning for a safe, beautiful, vibrant Riverdale main street

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The residents of Riverdale, ZIP code 10471, deserve a real “main street” for shopping, walking, exercising, dining, school, worship and commuting.

Pedestrian and student safety must come first. 

The North Riverdale Merchant and Business Association is therefore pleased to announce the publication of the “Riverdale Streetscape Report.” With this report, we ask New York City to implement and study 19 ideas for safety improvements on Riverdale and Mosholu avenues. 

The report also sets forth 23 ideas for the association and others to pursue to beautify streets and improve environmental sustainability. 

 

What we have achieved so far

Since its formation in 2012, the association has organized members around our shared goal of a better business district for all. In 2014, we won a grant to beautify the Riverdale post office as a showcase of what our streets could look like. In 2015, the association worked with the city parks department to identify locations for more than 40 new street trees.

In 2016, the association organized the replacement of dead street trees. In 2016, we won grants from Councilman Andrew Cohen and Assemblyman Jeff Dinowitz that are being used for cleaning and maintaining tree pits and future welcome signage.

In 2017, we began working with the College of Mount Saint Vincent to create a banner program on Riverdale Avenue. The Kingsbridge Riverdale Van Cortlandt Development Corp., has assisted us each step of the way.

 

Process for the report

Beautification efforts, however, cannot solve the deeper problems related to safety, appearance and environmental sustainability. In 2015, we applied for a $100,000 grant from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority to hire an expert traffic engineer and landscape architect. The association picked VHB Inc., for the project because of its expertise and success in traffic planning in surrounding communities. 

We thank Sen. Jeff Klein and various city agencies that supported our application for this grant.

The project’s focus is Riverdale Avenue from West 254th Street to the city line and Mosholu Avenue. VHB started by preparing an existing conditions report based on detailed traffic counts during the school year. It noted problems with speeding, lack of handicap accessibility, deteriorated tree pits, empty storefronts and frequent crashes.

We conducted about 30 meetings to gather feedback, and heard deep concerns about deteriorating conditions. Some of those meetings resulted in major changes to a prior draft, and the association deeply appreciates all the feedback received to date.

 

Streetscape report

The plan identifies a wide variety of improvements. One of the five long-term ideas is the now infamous “road diet” on Riverdale Avenue, which would take four lanes of traffic and create one lane in each direction, a center turn lane, and safer parking lanes. This technique has been statistically proven to improve safety, traffic and appearance — that’s why it is in the report.

But the association does not endorse a road diet at this time. It is DOT’s job to study what is safe and feasible in consultation with stakeholders and the community board. The studies and community consultation must take place, however, in 2017 and 2018.

Positive change is possible. In the past decade, DOT has had success citywide using planning techniques to improve safety, parking and appearance. The current Vision Zero program is continuing to reduce pedestrian death and injury, and beautify communities. This report, therefore, embraces Vision Zero.

Mosholu Avenue should remain a two-lane, two-way street. Mosholu Avenue is devoid of markings for pedestrians, drivers and parking cars. The draft plan calls upon DOT to carefully mark existing crosswalks, new crosswalks, two-way vehicle lanes, and parking lanes.

Parking will be improved. The report calls for DOT to create safer, carefully marked parking lanes. The report makes no recommendation about parking removal.

DOT already is studying Broadway. Midway through our research, DOT announced that it is studying changes to Broadway. The association, therefore, removed recommendations for Broadway from the report. 

DOT recently announced a draft plan for improving Broadway and access to Van Cortlandt Park. 

The association strongly supports the plan.

Please learn more by visiting RiverdaleBronx.nyc. Riverdale deserves two safe and inviting main streets. Please help us make that happen. 

The authors represent the executive committee of the North Riverdale Merchant and Business Association.

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