Concerns about streetscape plans


To the editor:

I am extremely concerned with the Riverdale, Bronx NYC Smart Growth Plan prepared by VHB P.C. for the North Riverdale Merchant and Business Association through a grant from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. This traffic and streetscape plan proposes removing a traffic lane in both directions from Riverdale Avenue and Broadway, and striping a buffer/bicycle lane in order to calm traffic. This plan, while well intentioned, needs to be reviewed by our emergency services: FDNY, NYPD, EMS and the volunteer ambulance corps that services our neighborhood.  

At the meeting held on June 29th, the traffic consultant stated that this plan has worked in other neighborhoods with no problems. However, a cookie-cutter model for neighborhood design and change never works!  Even a delay of one to two minutes for a firetruck, ambulance or police vehicle will cost lives. My husband, an officer with the FDNY, read the plan and suggests that the Community Board 8 Public Safety Committee request that FDNY and NYPD examine it.  

As a longtime resident who is also a fire officer, he notes several problems with reducing Riverdale Avenue and Broadway into one lane of traffic in each direction: Hydrants are not uniformly placed. With the proposed shrub- or tree-lined median in place, you could have a fire on one side of these streets and the nearest hydrant on the other. Firemen cannot easily stretch the hose across these proposed medians.  Many seniors require medical care, and the first five minutes are the most important. Emergency vehicles are going to have delayed response times.  Inevitably, traffic will be backed up, and firemen along with the ambulances will be delayed. Police will not be affected as much, because they are driving cars which are smaller and can be more easily navigated around stopped buses, trucks, and traffic.  

Riverdale Avenue and Broadway are the only two clear main arteries in North Riverdale. Many of the other streets have speed bumps which slow down the response times. Firetrucks and ambulances are heavier and have to slow down even more than a regular car to prevent damage.  On Broadway, there are many track and other events held at Van Cortlandt Park. Traffic is already a nightmare. Double parking is out of control.  There is no way a firetruck is going to get by on the weekends with only one dedicated lane. I am sure no one wants to have a loved one in an emergency, be it fire or medical waiting an extra minute.  It will seem like an eternity.

On another note, the traffic that normally travels on Broadway and Riverdale Avenue will be dumped on the quiet side streets in order to avoid the congestion on these major thoroughfares. The increased traffic will potentially cause more pedestrian accidents. It will certainly affect the character of our side streets and the quality of life of many north Riverdale residents.

If implemented, the plan proposes eliminating 24 parking spaces from Mosholu Ave., Riverdale Avenue, and Broadway, as well as angled parking at Broadway and Manhattan College Parkway. This is going to make it harder for local businesses to survive, yet many businesses are unaware of its existence.  I find it troubling that the meeting where the plan was discussed was not well publicized and not well attended. If this is such a great plan, why are most residents, merchants, and the Riverdale Press being kept in the dark?  While there are many positive suggestions in this plan,  the taxpaying residents of our neighborhood deserve greater transparency. 

Tara McMaster