Dinowitz, Cohen and residents call for safe streets on Independence Avenue

Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz and Councilman Andrew Cohen speak about the speeding and racing in CB8.
Photos by Jason Cohen

Elected officials and residents in Community Board 8 are sick and tired of the reckless driving, speeding and drag racing on Independence Avenue from West 232nd Street to West 239th Street.

On Thursday, Sept. 17, Councilman Andrew Cohen, Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz and community members spoke about the rampant disregard for safety on the road.

There are supposed to be three speed humps on Independence Avenue in this area, however they were removed in July during road milling and have not been reinstalled by the Department of Transportation (DOT).

“Every night you can see from the marks on the street people are coming here doing doughnuts, making noise and driving very fast,” Cohen said. “We’re begging DOT to take action and NYPD to enforce the traffic laws.”

Obeying the speed limit is one of the issues politicians have brought up, but in 2013, they fought to have the area deemed a neighborhood slow zone with a 20 mph speed limit. Independence Avenue has two schools (P.S. 24 and M.S./H.S. 141, Riverdale/Kingsbridge Academy), a library (Spuyten Duyvil Branch of NYPL), several religious institutions, Seton Park and Riverdale Playground between West 232nd Street and West 239th Street.

Dinowitz, who lives nearby on 237th Street, said during the past few months, he had heard people racing and speeding all night. The elected officials said they had spoken with the NYPD and DOT, yet nothing had been done.

“This is really a situation where someone could get killed,” he stressed. “DOT must take steps in order to protect people. We need speed enforcement on this strip. It’s not only on Independence Avenue, we’re getting complaints from all over our district.”

In addition to putting the speed humps back, Dinowitz suggested a speed camera at one of the schools.

The assemblyman said he understood cops were overwhelmed with the rise in shootings, but is still “dissatisfied” with how they were treating the racing and speeding there.

Several residents attended the press conference and expressed concerns about the reckless drivers.

John Dougherty, who lives at 232nd Street and Riverside, said the souped up cars are racing all night and it needed to end. He urged the DOT to put the speed humps back.

“The noise is so loud you can’t hear your family members at the dinner table,” he said.

One person who attested to the speed demons on the road was Charlie Amabile, 11, who was hit by a car two weeks prior while riding his bike. On Sept. 11, Amabile was biking with his dad Michael down Van Cortlandt Park Avenue to soccer practice and a FreshDirect truck was double parked on Waldo Avenue. With the right of way, they passed the truck and suddenly two cars came speeding by turning off Manhattan College Parkway and the second one clipped him, breaking his hand.

“It’s obviously extreme here on Independence Avenue,” Michael said. “It’s something we’ve witnessed throughout the neighborhood.”

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