To the editor:
(re: “Change could soon be inbound for Independence,” Dec. 24)
I am responding to your Dec. 24 story about the proposed changes to Independence Avenue, which I read with significant alarm.
I am just as annoyed as the next person about the donuts and burnouts, but most of the proposed changes are equivalent to using a bulldozer to remove an ant hill.
I have lived on this street since 1984 and only know of one person who was struck by a car. I find crossing Independence at West 239th Street does provoke some anxiety, but only because the “walk” sign is illuminated for far too short a time.
I occasionally see a driver run a stop sign or traffic light, but mostly the infraction is what’s known as a “rolling stop.” Generally, the rule of a pedestrian in a crosswalk is observed.
The donut and burnout incidents typically, but not always, happen between 10:30 p.m., and 2:30 a.m., when there is little or no traffic. It only started when the streets became less traveled due to the coronavirus pandemic. The perpetrators are taking advantage of lax police enforcement and prosecution.
As for the proposed changes to resolve the issue, it appears that most people have short memories about what it was like during morning and afternoon drop-off and pick-up, when school was in full session — as this has not happened since March. Every square inch of street was utilized by school buses, city buses and private vehicles.
Cars were double- or triple-parked for student drop-offs, and standing in safety zones and at fire hydrants waiting to pick up their children. Any attempt to narrow the street would result in the somewhat controlled chaos to completely disintegrate into gridlock.
Frequently, delivery trucks double-park. The fire department frequently uses Independence. Reducing Independence to a single lane in each direction would impede them and other local traffic.
Cutting back on angled parking to install bike lanes would remove much-needed parking spaces. Adding angled parking to West 235th Street, creating additional spaces, is a great idea. One way not so much as it is part of an alternate route if, as is the case sometimes, Independence is closed. Independence between West 246th and West 249th streets is a private street resembling a country lane.
Adding a traffic light at West 237th Street would help if it were timed as not to entice speeding to beat the light. Adding a red-light camera might stop the donuts. A concrete median would not allow for traffic to pass a delivery truck, and concrete safety zones would hinder parents from waiting for their children, and garner the same complaints as they did at Kappock Street and Palisades Avenue.
Flexible delineators usually do not work and end up being destroyed. Proper timing of walk/don’t walk signs is the best answer for pedestrian safety.
Practical assessment of how the street is used at various times during the day should dictate any changes. More police enforcement and the threat of substantial penalties would do more to solve the problem.