New traffic proposal for Southern Boulevard is unpopular

The NYC Department of Transportation’s push to install bicycle lanes throughout the Bronx hasn’t been well received by residents in various neighborhoods.

The most recent example of this is the DOT proposed new traffic pattern for Southern Boulevard from East 182nd Street to East 191st Street.

Bronx Borough DOT Commissioner Nivardo Lopez explained the city’s proposed plan that would add bicycle lanes to the Southern Boulevard corridor in front of a less-than-enthused crowd of Belmont residents at Mount Carmel Senior Center on Monday, May 6.

For the DOT to proceed with its plan, the agency would have to tempoarily remove parking on that section of Southern Boulevard from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. during the road’s reworking; something that is more cause for concern to residents than the addition of bike lanes.

Community Board 6 district manager John Sanchez estimates that Southern Boulevard plan would cost the community about 83 parking spaces if the DOT follows through with the proposed change.

“Up to this point we’ve supported what the DOT has wanted to do in the area, but this is something that the community board unanimously voted against,” Sanchez said, mentioning he was skeptical about the proposal when Lopez and his staff wouldn’t specify the number of accidents that occurred in the corridor that apparently prompted the change, during the town hall meeting.

“Not to mention no cyclists spoke up in support of the plan at the meeting,” the district manager added, drawing a comparison to the DOT’s ongoing battle with residents and elected officials over a similar plan for Morris Park Avenue.

“I’m quite familiar with that,” he joked.

As a matter of fact, even Clarita Bailon, who serves as the CB6 Transportation Committee chair, spoke out against the DOT’s plan.

Her position carries major significance since it was coming from someone who is bound to a wheelchair after being struck by a car herself.

Bailon’s main objection comes from her own personal experiences with cyclists not adhering to traffic rules in, on top of the reasons already given by the community.

Another point that Sanchez and the board raised was that adding bicycle lanes wouldn’t solve the issue of congestion on Southern Boulevard.

The main traffic problem is generated by the many buses going to and from the Bronx Zoo, according to Sanchez.

“If the DOT were proposing something that was more bus lane-oriented then the board would have been more receptive,” he said, mentioning that adding a bike lane would only make congestion worse on Southern Boulevard.

Other concerns coming from the community are over the effect of losing so many parking spaces. Some feel the parking loss would impact on the Arthur Avenue Market shoppers who primarily use their own cars.

“Most of Arthur Avenue’s patrons drive in from Westchester, Connecticut and elsewhere,” Sanchez said fearing the plan would hurt the small businesses if customers can’t park in close proximity.

While the DOT has not established a timetable for the redesign of Southern Boulevard, there will be another component of the plan that spans as far north, to Mosholu Parkway from Southern Boulevard.

It will be discussed during a CB 7 public meeting at its office on Thursday, June 6 at 6:30 p.m.

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