Last week, I had the privilege of engaging in a Greenway team meeting. One of the topics discussed was increasing bike safety. At the Bronx River Alliance, we advocate for cycling as the (currently) 20-mile Bronx River Greenway supports both pedestrian and bicycle traffic. Firstly, cycling has both amazing health and environmental effects — which can be read in “The Advantages of Biking.” Additionally, our recent collaboration with Citi Bike — which can be further looked into in “Citi Bike in the Bronx Updates” by Emily Li — has increased accessibility for bikeshare in underrepresented communities.
For these reasons, it is essential that we speak up about the gap in the Bronx River Greenway. During the meeting, the article “OPINION: City Must Fix a Dangerous Gap in the Bronx River Greenway” was given the spotlight as the center of improving bike safety. In the piece, authors Twahira Khan, Richard Gans, and John Sanchez describe the dangers of the crosswalk between East 177th Street (Starlight Park entrance) and East Tremont Avenue (West Farms Rapids Park exit).
The gap is a block long, with daunting obstacles such as an MTA bus depot, a ramp to Sheridan Boulevard and the Cross Bronx Expressway, and multiple lanes traffic. It has seen more than 200 crashes within the last five years, which is an average of approximately 1 crash nearly every 9 days.
The NYS Department of Transportation (DOT) understood the gravity of the issue and provided funds for the city DOT to fix it in 2008. Since then, the project has not broken ground. With all that being said, the construction has to incorporate the parks of the Greenway to ensure that both cyclists and pedestrians have safe travel. The COVID-19 pandemic only underscores the necessity, seeing as people have been increasingly turning to cycling as a safer means of transportation.
It is important to note that West Farms Rapids Park has a similar story in terms of its construction that garners hope. In 2008, the park also had a project that was ultimately delayed. But in 2019, it got a new contractor and is now officially open to the public. It is thanks to people advocating that these projects are able to move forward. As we continue to vocalize support for restarting the construction, we will hopefully get fruitful results and make a safer intersection for everyone!