Residents pushing for deer crossing sign installations

Residents would like to see deer crossing signs installed along City Island Road, among other areas in Pelham Bay Park.
Steven Goodstein / Community News Group

The borough of the Bronx is deer country, or at least a proposed sign installation would suggest that.

For almost a decade, Bronx residents have been pushing for the installation of deer crossing signs on roads in Pelham Bay Park to protect the safety of both motorists and wildlife.

The deer crossing signs would provide a level of caution after two car crashes involving deer took place this past summer, according to local residents.

A NYC Department of Parks and Recreation study on the wildlife of Pelham Bay Park, conducted as recently as last December, seems to support the idea.

These studies have concluded that the deer population in the Bronx, or at least Pelham Bay Park, is increasing.

With the deer population on the rise, along with this past summer’s incidents, it would seem that deer crossing signs on these roads would increase safety for everybody.

“I’m sure there were more than two incidents,” said John Doyle, corresponding secretary for the City Island Civic Association, referring to the car crashes involving deer this past summer. “When you have drivers, especially drivers not familiar with these surroundings at night, traveling well over the speed limit (35 mph), the situation can turn dangerous and deadly very quickly.”

Doyle, who has been pushing for the installation of these signs since 2007, also said that Pelham Bay Park has seen an increase in coyotes.

He added that the CICA offered to pay for permanent signage on the park’s roads after the DOT considered temporary signage in past years.

“When these incidents occur, the drivers won’t go through their insurance or report the incident because their rates will be raised,” Doyle said. “We need to get these signs installed before a fatal or serious accident occurs again.”

Doyle added that it would be helpful if the signs were also stationed at the entrance of Pelham Bay Park, the Pelham Bridge and the on and off ramps of the Hutchinson River Parkway, along with City Island and Shore roads.

“The Bronx is very different from the movie stereotypes with which we are associated,” said Lizbeth Gonzalez, president of the Friends of Pelham Bay Park. “Striking a deer while driving can result in a fatality or serious injury so signage that reminds drivers to slow down is good for both the deer and drivers.”

“These signs are needed, due to the increase of the deer population in Pelham Bay Park over the years,” said Assemblyman Michael Benedetto. “The results of these incidents are obviously tragic for the deer but also for the driver. If signs are installed, they should be permanent – why temporary? If the deer population decreases in the next decade, then adjustments can be made.”

There are currently no plans for installation of temporary or permanent deer crossing signs.

“Various studies have shown that signs that alert drivers to infrequent encounters or possible situation, such as deer crossing, do not have a consistent impact on driver behavior,” a DOT spokesperson said. “In addition, support research has shown that deer crossing warning signs do not reduce deer vehicle crashes. DOT is aware of community concerns regarding deer in the area and have reminded the general public that driving at the posted speed limit gives them sufficient time to manage any wildlife interactions on the road.”

Reach Reporter Steven Goodstein at (718) 260-4599. E-mail him at sgoodstein@cnglocal.com.

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