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Posts from the "The Bronx" Category

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City Council Gets on Board With Overhauling the Sheridan. Will Cuomo?

A model from the Department of City Planning shows how the Sheridan Expressway could be transformed — but it all depends on Governor Cuomo. Click to enlarge. Photo: Stephen Miller

After nearly two decades of advocacy and planning to transform the Sheridan Expressway, South Bronx residents and businesses have a plan they agree on. The next step: Governor Cuomo’s State DOT must launch an environmental review to begin implementing the plan. The State Senate included $3 million for the review in its budget proposal [PDF]. With a unanimous 10-0 vote this afternoon, the City Council transportation committee urged the state to follow through and conduct the study. The full City Council is expected to endorse the request tomorrow.

“This vote is a historic moment for our campaign,” said Angela Tovar, director of policy and research at Sustainable South Bronx. “This plan is both mutually beneficial for businesses and for community residents.”

It’s been a long campaign to reach this point: Local residents, under the umbrella of the South Bronx River Watershed Alliance, fought back a state plan to expand the Sheridan in 1997. More recently, after the state — followed a couple of years later by the city — rejected complete removal of the expressway, advocates focused on what they could accomplish as the city continued to study other options to transform the highway.

The final product of the city’s multi-agency planning effort would provide residents with safer streets and improved access to the Bronx River, while creating better routes for the 15,000 daily truck trips to and from the Hunts Point wholesale food market.

“We have consensus with the business community, which has long been seen as adversarial to this change,” said Kellie Terry, executive director of THE POINT Community Development Corporation.

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A Bronx Blast From the Past: Car-Free Grand Concourse Gets CB 4 Support


It’s been an on-again, off-again tradition for at least two decades: Turning the center lanes of the Grand Concourse into a car-free space for stress-free walking, biking and exercise. With an overwhelming vote of support from Community Board 4 earlier this week, it seems this tradition is poised for a return this summer.

In the early 1990s, then-Borough President Fernando Ferrer supported car-free Sundays on the Grand Concourse, giving Broxnites a chance to enjoy three-and-a-half miles of the borough’s main boulevard. The program, which started in July and August, was extended through November due to its popularity, but the Giuliani administration stopped the program in 1996. A limited version was brought back by Adolfo Carrión, Ferrer’s successor, in 2006, and was documented in this Streetfilm before again fading out a couple years later.

Now, the program is set for a return — if only for a few blocks and a few hours. On Tuesday, Bronx Community Board 4 lent its support with a 27-1 vote in favor of a proposal led by Transportation Alternatives, the Bronx Museum of Art, and a host of local health, cultural, neighborhood and business partners.

The groups are applying to DOT’s Weekend Walks program to open the center lanes of the Grand Concourse between 165th and 167th Streets to walking, biking and public events on three consecutive Sundays in August. Last year, there were three Weekend Walks events in the Bronx, but none on the Grand Concourse.

The event, called “Boogie on the Boulevard,” is scheduled for August 3, 10 and 17 — the same days that Summer Streets, the city’s marquee open streets event, has traditionally been held in Manhattan. ”It’s definitely playing on an extension of Summer Streets, coming up to serve folks in the Bronx,” TA field organizing manager Jill Guidera said. ”People from the Bronx go down to Park Avenue to enjoy their city in that way, and they were wondering where theirs was.”

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Film Maker Captures Everyday Motorist Law-Breaking at Deadly Crossings

Here are two excellent shorts from film maker Anna Zivarts that document conditions at intersections where pedestrians lost their lives.

On the morning of January 2, 75-year-old Xiaoci Hu was struck by two motorists at Seventh Avenue and 65th Street in Sunset Park. Zivarts took a camera there and filmed several drivers, including one in a semi truck, blowing through a crosswalk heedless of a group of pedestrians who have the right of way. People in the group yell at drivers to stop as they continue to pass, inches from a man with a small child on his shoulders. The film shows motorists honking at pedestrians who have the walk signal.

At East Fordham Road and Southern Boulevard in the Bronx, where an unidentified man was hit by a driver less than 12 hours after Hu was killed, Zivarts filmed motorists en route to Pelham Parkway failing to yield. At one point, a man on foot waits through an entire light cycle as driver after driver refuses to concede the right of way, forcing him to wait for the next light.

This is a genius idea that, unfortunately, could be replicated at most any intersection in NYC. Motorists are constantly making the case that improved enforcement and engineering are needed to make streets safer, and anyone with a video camera or a smartphone and some editing software can give them an audience.

“This won’t get us to Vision Zero,” reads Zivarts’s caption at the end of each video. But this is the kind of grassroots activism that will.

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9-Year-Old Boy, Mother, and Senior Killed in Weekend of Motorist Violence

Three pedestrians were fatally struck by motorists over the weekend, bringing to seven the number of people killed while walking in New York City in the first two weeks of 2014.

Twenty pedestrians were killed by city motorists in January 2013, according to NYPD data, and 12 pedestrians and one cyclist died in January 2012.

Cooper Stock. Photo via DNAinfo

Cooper Stock. Photo via DNAinfo

Nine-year-old Cooper Stock was in a crosswalk with his father at West End Avenue and 97th Street  at around 9 p.m. Friday when both were hit by cab driver Koffi Komlani, according to reports. A motorist in a car behind Komlani spoke with the Daily News:

“He had to be distracted because there’s no way he could not see them, if I did,” [Ramon] Gonzalez, 46, said of the 53-year-old cabbie.

“The father grabbed his son. They were both on the hood of the car for a second. The father fell off the passenger side. The son went underneath the driver’s-side tire, first the front one, then the rear.”

Komlani, of West Harriman, didn’t brake until after he’d run over the boy with both wheels, according to Gonzalez, the assistant director of an educational nonprofit who lives in Chelsea.

Richard Stock suffered a leg injury. Cooper died at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital.

Cooper Stock was at least the twelfth child age 14 and under killed by a New York City motorist in the last 12 months, according to crash data compiled by Streetsblog. Year after year, traffic crashes remain the leading cause of injury-related death for children in NYC.

From DNAinfo:

The family released a statement about Cooper late Saturday, saying he loved the Yankees, rock and roll, and the Knicks. “Cooper was the life of the party even when there wasn’t a party,” the statement said. “He was light, he was reflective, he was beauty in motion, he was charismatic. He has been described as an old soul, and wise beyond his years.”

Komlani was ticketed for failure to yield on Friday. ”As of now, there are no disciplinary actions available to the TLC,” said Allan Fromberg, spokesperson for the Taxi and Limousine Commission, in an email. ”We’re awaiting the outcome of the NYPD investigation to make a determination of what options are available.”

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Bronx Motorist Convicted of DWI, But Not Manslaughter, in Pedestrian Death

A jury in the Bronx determined a motorist was impaired by alcohol and drugs when he struck and killed a pedestrian in 2011, but the jury acquitted the driver of manslaughter.

Thomas Riley, 23, was crossing East Fordham Road near Bathgate Avenue at around 4:20 a.m. on March 20, 2011, when he was hit by a minivan driven by 48-year-old Seth Johnson, according to a Post story published the day after the crash.

Riley was a barber who had a young son, the Post reported. “My family is now torn apart because a drunk driver took his life away,” said Riley’s sister.

Court records indicate Johnson was charged by Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson with manslaughter, homicide, speeding, reckless driving, leaving the scene, and separate counts of driving while under the influence of alcohol and drugs.

The reckless driving and speeding charges were dismissed. Last week a jury found Johnson guilty on one count of driving drunk and one count of driving while impaired by drugs. The jury acquitted on the manslaughter and homicide charges.

“As a prosecutor, I accept the verdict of the jury,” said Bronx vehicular crime chief Joe McCormack. “We brought what we felt were appropriate charges, and we did the best we could trying the case.”

To sustain a charge of vehicular homicide, prosecutors in New York State must be able to prove that impairment caused a motorist to operate a vehicle in a manner that caused death. Given the tendency of courts to side with motorists who kill, even while driving drunk, this is no small feat.

Four months after the death of Thomas Riley, Nassau County pedestrian Eddie Cotto was struck and killed by Robert Core. Though Core reportedly had a blood alcohol level of .17, a judge dismissed a manslaughter charge on the grounds that Cotto was also intoxicated. Core was convicted of DWI and aggravated DWI, and given a maximum sentence of one year.

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Hunts Point to Cuomo: Get Trucks Off Local Bronx Streets

Hunts Point is one of New York City’s largest industrial hubs, generating 15,000 truck trips every day over local streets in one of the city’s poorest neighborhoods. The result? Pollution and dangerous streets for residents, as well as wasted resources for businesses. Yesterday, the city released a mammoth study of land use and transportation in the area, and it includes one recommendation that local advocates say the state should pursue immediately: a study of direct ramps from the Bruckner Expressway to the industrial areas of Hunts Point.

Today, trucks going to Hunts Point follow the solid red line on the highway, but follow the dashed line on local streets. Direct ramps from the Bruckner Expressway at the blue circle would keep trucks off local streets. Image: DCP

Tuesday morning, neighborhood advocates from the Southern Bronx River Watershed Alliance gathered with Assembly Member Marcos Crespo and Hunts Point industrial business owners to call on the state to prioritize new ramps connecting the Bruckner Expressway directly with Oak Point Avenue in Hunts Point, which would keep trucks off neighborhood streets.

The city presented recommendations for improving the area around the lightly-trafficked Sheridan Expressway in June and yesterday released its final report. Implement those recommendations is now up to the state, which controls the expressways that carve up the neighborhood.

The Alliance sees the Oak Point ramps as an area of common ground with industrial interests on Hunts Point. Management of the Hunts Point Terminal Market opposed tearing down the Sheridan Expressway, a major goal of the Alliance. Ultimately, the city recommended converting a major section of the Sheridan to a surface street instead of completely removing it.

As initially proposed by the Alliance, the ramps would connect to the eastbound and westbound Bruckner. While the city had performed traffic analysis only for ramps carrying traffic to and from the east, it did not preclude the full set of ramps, and advocates called on the state to study the four-way ramp option.

Advocates are asking Governor Andrew Cuomo and his DOT commissioner, Joan McDonald, to move forward with the Oak Point ramp study. They are joined by groups including the Hunts Point Economic Development Corporation and the Hunts Point Produce Market. The coalition’s letter to Cuomo notes that the Oak Point ramps would help support a $29 million investment from the governor’s regional economic development council in the Hunts Point Produce Market.

“Of all the plans and proposals, this is something we agree on. Let’s move forward with this,” said Assembly Member Marcos Crespo. “We have businesses that are saying, ‘We’d love to do more, but we’re constrained.’ This would loosen up those constraints to a large extent.”

“It’s just going to make business a lot easier to do, because trucks will go directly into the industrial area,” said Edward Taylor, owner of Down East Seafood distributors, which has 60 employees and 15 trucks. “There’s a lot of really big tractor-trailers that are just not made for these streets,” he said. ”Now is the time to put the infrastructure in so we have the opportunity to grow the area without impacting the folks that live here.”

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Senior Killed by Bus Driver in Bronx; Hit-and-Run Driver Kills Man in Queens

Two NYC pedestrians were killed by motorists over the weekend. One of the victims was a senior; the other was struck by a hit-and-run driver in the City Council district represented by Eric Ulrich, where at least five pedestrians have died in traffic in 2013.

Gloria Mabry. Photo via Daily News

Gloria Mabry. Photo via Daily News

Last Friday evening at approximately 6:45 p.m., 74-year-old Gloria Mabry was walking to her Bronx home when she was hit by an MTA bus driver. According to reports, Mabry was pushing a grocery cart along Co-Op City Boulevard when the bus driver struck her while turning left from Co-Op City Boulevard onto Dreiser Loop.

From the Daily News:

Mabry ended up getting caught under the rear wheels of the bus, horrified witnesses said. Paramedics rushed Mabry to Jacobi Medical Center, but doctors were unable to save her.

“My mother was 74 years old and bringing home a cart of groceries,” Mabry’s son, Reginald Mabry, told News 12. “There’s no way whatsoever that a vehicle going a safe speed could not have seen that little lady.”

“It wasn’t immediately clear if Mabry had the light when she was crossing,” reported the AP. In other words, it’s not known who had the right of way. The NYPD public information office had no details on how the crash unfolded, or whether summonses were issued. A spokesperson said the investigation was “ongoing,” which often means police are awaiting toxicology reports on the victim.

Mabry was killed in the City Council district represented by Andy King, and in the 45th Precinct, where as of October local officers had issued 227 speeding tickets in 2013, and 16 citations for failure to yield to a pedestrian.

At around 3:15 a.m. Saturday, Yunior Antonio Perez Rodriguez, 35, was struck as he tried to cross Woodhaven Boulevard at Jamaica Avenue. He was pronounced dead at Jamaica Hospital. The driver fled the scene.

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Mapping Out a Route for the Hudson River Greenway in the Bronx

The plan for the Hudson River Greenway in the Bronx includes improvements in the next three years in blue, the next decade in purple, and the years beyond in red. Image: NYMTC

The plan for the Hudson River Greenway in the Bronx: Improvements for the next three years are in blue, the next decade in purple, and the years beyond in red. Click to enlarge. Image: NYMTC

In 1991, Governor Mario Cuomo signed the Hudson River Valley Greenway Act, setting in motion the design and construction of a continuous walking and biking route along the river, from Manhattan to Saratoga County. More than two decades later, the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council — the NYC-area regional planning agency — has come up with a preferred route for the greenway through the Bronx and parts of Yonkers, which would fill the gap between the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway and the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail in Westchester County.

The study, funded by a $1 million earmark from Senator Charles Schumer in the 2005 federal transportation bill, involved years of workshops, meetings, and analysis by NYMTC and lead consultant The RBA Group to identify a route. Tweaks are still being considered, and NYMTC anticipates ironing out the final details by the middle of next year. This study, while comprehensive, simply outlines a preferred route and provides cost estimates. Bronxites looking to walk and bike on their section of the greenway are still a long way from seeing shovels in the ground.

Some residents of Palisade Avenue are worried that the greenway plans could ruin the bucolic nature of their street. Image: NYMTC

Some residents of Palisade Avenue are worried that the greenway plans could ruin the bucolic nature of their street — by adding sidewalks. Image: NYMTC

The route, running from the Henry Hudson Bridge to Yonkers, is broken into three phases, covering the next three years, the next decade, and beyond.

The first phase creates a physically-separated greenway path along Palisade Avenue and in Riverdale Park between 232nd and 254th Streets. North of 254th, it would create an on-street route along Palisade Avenue, 261st Street, and Riverdale Avenue to Yonkers. South of 232nd, an on-street route is planned along Palisade Avenue and Kappock Street to the Henry Hudson Bridge.

At last month’s Community Board 8 parks committee meeting, residents of Palisade Avenue raised concerns about the potential changes. Currently, the street, which carries two-way traffic and has on-street parking on its east side, does not have any lane markings. The report recommends building a sidewalk along the west side, striping a yellow centerline and adding shared lane markings for cyclists, while maintaining on-street parking.

Residents at the meeting were worried that sidewalk construction would require land takings and alter the wooded, alpine nature of the area. NYMTC is considering other options, including a painted area on the street that designates pedestrian space instead of a sidewalk. “We understand the residents’ concerns about the bucolic nature of the roadway,” said Gerry Bogacz, NYMTC’s planning director. Some residents requested that the plan relocate the greenway’s on-street route one block east to Independence Avenue, but Bogacz was less receptive to that idea.

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No Charges: Witnesses Say Driver Who Killed Bronx Senior Ran Stop Sign

A senior was killed in Mott Haven Tuesday by a motorist who witnesses said sped past a stop sign before striking the victim, jumping a curb and slamming into an apartment building. The driver was not charged or summonsed by NYPD.

Candida Acosta. Photo: DNAinfo

According to reports, Candida Acosta, 74, was crossing E. 141st Street at Beekman Avenue at around 11:05 a.m. when the driver of an Infiniti SUV struck her, then drove onto a sidewalk, knocked down a street sign, hit a building, and crashed into a stoop with sufficient force to trigger the vehicle’s airbags.

After the SUV stopped, a child exited the vehicle, bleeding from her mouth. The Daily News and News 12 said the 47-year-old driver and her 8-year-old daughter were hospitalized.

From DNAinfo:

Multiple witnesses, including the man who called 911, Ali Nagi, told DNAinfo New York that the SUV was going about 35 MPH and rolled a stop sign before hitting Acosta.

Witnesses also told WABC the driver ran a stop sign. One woman said more people could have been hurt. “If that building wouldn’t have stopped that car, all those people would have died plus people that are on that sidewalk,” said Mercedes Rivera, a friend of the victim.

Acosta suffered severe head and body trauma and died at Lincoln Hospital, reports said.

No charges were filed against the driver, and no summonses were issued. News 12 reported on Tuesday that, according to unnamed sources, “it’s possible the driver may receive a summons.” As of this morning the NYPD public information office had no updates. Streetsblog asked for the driver’s name, but a spokesperson said the department would not release that information unless the driver had been arrested.

Acosta was at least the second person killed by a motorist in the past month, and the fourth in 2013, in the City Council district represented by Maria del Carmen Arroyo, according to data compiled by Streetsblog. We talked with Arroyo’s spokesperson, who said the council member is out of town. The spokesperson said he would try to obtain the police report on the crash that killed Acosta, and pledged to follow up with Streetsblog next week.

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Eyes on the Street: Bronx River Greenway Access Streets Get Upgrades

The new two-way protected bikeway has been installed on Bruckner Boulevard ends after a block, yielding to shared lane and sidewalk markings.

The Bronx River Greenway has given many South Bronx residents a place to feel comfortable biking, but the streets nearby are often filled with speeding drivers navigating sometimes-confusing intersections. A project adding bike lanes, curb extensions, and lane striping aimed to fix that — and since the end of the summer residents have seen some of the results. An anonymous reader who lives in Soundview and commutes by bike through the area sent in some photos showing the changes.

Some of the biggest changes have come to the intersection of Whitlock and Westchester Avenues, busy with pedestrians accessing Concrete Plant Park and the 6 train. Among those changes are painted curb extensions, which do not have flex-post bollards and “are almost always completely ignored by drivers,” our reader said in an e-mail. Streetsblog has asked DOT if the agency will be installing barriers to keep cars out of the pedestrian space.

Without bollards or barriers, some drivers ignore the newly-painted curb extensions at the intersection of Westchester and Whitlock Avenues.

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