Since 2009, Friends of the Williamsbridge Oval and Bronx Community Board 7 have been asking DOT to improve pedestrian safety and access to the Norwood neighborhood’s central public space. Most intersections surrounding the park don’t have crosswalks, and sections of the road surrounding the park are also missing sidewalks. Now, after years of requests from neighbors, DOT has proposed changes that would make it safer to get to the park.
Williamsbridge Oval, also known as Reservoir Oval, had 15 pedestrian injuries and 22 motor vehicle occupant injuries from 2006 to 2012, according to DOT. Over the same period, there were no bicyclist injuries, while four of the motor vehicle occupant injuries were serious.
DOT’s proposal [PDF], presented at a meeting co-hosted by CB 7 last Wednesday, would reduce the speed limit on the oval from 30 mph to 20 mph and add signage alerting drivers to speed humps and curves in the road. It would also add painted curb extensions and crosswalks at the intersections of Holt Place, Reservoir Place, and at a park entrance near the tennis courts between Wayne Avenue and Bainbridge Avenue.
While painted curb extensions are now a common tool DOT uses across New York, unlike its counterparts in other cities, the agency doesn’t normally suggest striping crosswalks where there are no traffic signals or stop signs.
“It’s a big step in the right direction,” said Jay Shuffield, a member of both CB 7 and Friends of the Williamsbridge Oval. Shuffield thanked DOT’s pedestrian projects group for the change in tone, since advocates felt they were stonewalled by the agency’s Bronx borough office. ”They suddenly dropped their resistance to common-sense solutions here,” he said.
The proposal also adjusts the oval’s two high-traffic intersections with Bainbridge Avenue. At the avenue’s intersection with West 208th Street, the proposal adds a painted pedestrian island, and at Van Cortlandt Avenue East, it shifts parking to create a painted sidewalk that connects to a park entrance.
Nine additional parking spaces would be added on Reservoir Place as it approaches the oval to calm traffic coming from East Gun Hill Road, and parking spaces are being shifted to accommodate the painted curb extension on the oval at Holt Place.