Letters to the editor

Modernize Riverdale Avenue


To the editor:

On March 21, I wrote to the city’s transportation department and the community board in strong support of the Vision Zero upgrade to Riverdale Avenue from West 254th Street to the city line.

Among other upgrades, DOT plans a road diet that involves wider parking, bicycle lanes and left-turn lanes.

Working in the field of environmental law and traffic analysis for 20 years, I am very familiar with DOT’s process. And I am familiar with the data regarding road diets and other traffic-calming changes made through the city’s Vision Zero program.

The national and local data on road diets and traffic calming is uniformly good — the measures save lives and reduce accident rates every time. This is especially true on local main streets like Riverdale Avenue. The changes also universally benefit local businesses, as safer conditions tend to boost pedestrian traffic and parking safety.

Beyond the data, there are also legal issues to consider. Riverdale Avenue is statistically unsafe. It has a high accident rate. Traffic tends to speed. DOT has a legal obligation to stop these conditions, and the road diet is — based on the facts — the agency’s best tool for doing so.

(I don’t mean to suggest that the road diet alone is enough — DOT must resurface Riverdale Avenue, and improve pedestrian crossings in several respects.)

I’m sad to see so much acrimony in Riverdale and around the city regarding Vision Zero and traffic safety. It’s a bit like watching climate change deniers, anti-vaxxers and “stop the steal” advocates. Their passion for opposing is real, but they get the facts entirely wrong.

Thankfully, the city’s transportation department is remaining focused on the facts. It would be nice to see the community board do so, too.