One resident’s street fight takes surprising new turn

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Nat Solomon refuses to give up.

The Van Cortlandt Village resident wants safety improvements where Stevenson Place and Sedgwick Avenue meet, like a crosswalk, traffic lights and speed cameras. Even after the city’s transportation department nixed the changes, Solomon convinced the Bronx’s own transportation commissioner to come get a first-hand look. 

Nivardo Lopez actually made the trip Nov. 13, joining other elected officials and community leaders to see what has Solomon and other neighbors fired up about Stevenson and Sedgwick.

“An elderly person crossing the street is going to find it a daunting task,” Solomon said. “What we would like to see are some additional traffic signals and a crosswalk.”

Stevenson and Sedgwick span four city blocks, yet there’s no convenient place to cross the street, he said.  

The Van Cortlandt Library and Van Cortlandt Jewish Center along with residential buildings and houses, are all located along this part of the Jerome Park Reservoir area. Right now, pedestrians cross near the intersection at Sedgwick and Van Cortlandt avenues, which Solomon says is not a safe alternative since traffic travels in multiple directions.

Making matters more dangerous, he added, is the fact drivers ignore the blinking caution light along Stevenson and Sedgwick.

 “It’s difficult to cross the area safely because there are trucks and buses that come off the (Major) Deegan and they don’t know Sedgwick Avenue, so they are speeding,” Solomon said. “We have motorcycles going 60 miles an hour at night, especially on Friday, Saturday and Sunday in the summer.”

Dan Padernacht, chair of Community Board 8’s traffic and transportation committee, agrees. 

“Speeding is worse at night because you have less vehicles on the corridor,” Padernacht said. “It’s even more dangerous.”

Solomon also wants the portion of Stevenson Place, which runs behind buildings like the Van Cortlandt Jewish Center, to be repaved. The road is a mish-mash of patched-up repair work to cover the potholes, he said. The potholes are trouble for the elderly who travel the street using walkers.

It’s been a frustrating process for Solomon, who has fought for traffic-calming measures in the neighborhood since 2011.

He got some help from Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, who reached out to then transportation commissioner Constance Moran in 2012. Yet, nothing happened. 

Now, Dinowitz wants Moran’s successor to conduct a traffic study.

Solomon is hopeful the walk-through effectively demonstrated the area’s need for more safety improvements, “but I’m not holding my breath.”

But even if the battle must continue, Solomon is ready.

“You live in the Bronx.” he said, “You’re a fighter.”

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TruthTeller

I wish Mr. Solomon all the luck in the world and commend him for his good work in trying to make the DOT do better. This is the kind of activism we need in the community, because no matter what a persons race, creed, sexuality or political leanings, we all need streets to be safe to cross.

Friday, November 24