Neighborhood Residents Ask DOT to Tame Deadly Mosholu Parkway

This might look okay in the suburbs, but not in the middle of the Bronx. Local residents want DOT to tame traffic on Mosholu Parkway. Photo: Google Maps
Is this a park in the middle of the Bronx or a suburban highway? Photo: Google Maps

With its rolling curves and park-like setting, Mosholu Parkway might look pretty to people sitting behind a windshield. But for people on foot, it’s a roaring Robert Moses-era surface highway, up to eight lanes wide, running between Norwood and Bedford Park in the Bronx. The road divides the park and provides few places to safely cross. Now, residents are asking DOT to make some changes.

The street has a deadly track record. In 2011, a hit-and-run driver killed Josbel Rivera, 23, while he crossed Mosholu at Paul Avenue. The next year, Justin Bravo, 28, died after crashing his motorcycle on Mosholu beneath the Jerome Avenue overpass. In 2013, Sook-Ja Kim, 63, was killed by a driver who jumped the curb and drove across a field in the parkway median near Bainbridge Avenue.

At the time of the crash, Kim was in an area managed by the Parks Department that is often used by local residents as a recreation space, sandwiched between the parkway’s center lanes. Getting to the open space is difficult. There are stretches up to 1,300 feet — a quarter mile — without a crosswalk, and the street still has a 35 mph speed limit — 10 mph faster than the NYC default limit. Dirt paths tracked through the grass, the collective footprint of people’s walking routes, lead from adjacent neighborhoods to the parkway.

“The parkway was definitely designed for cars. It wasn’t designed for people,” said Elizabeth Quaranta, a founding member of Friends of Mosholu Parkland. “People fly down this road, and the wider the road is, the more you want to go faster.”

At the road’s widest point, pedestrians must cross twin speedways totaling eight lanes. Many intersections include massive slip lanes for drivers to take turns at speed. Excess road space is everywhere, even with the “channelization” stripes DOT has added to demarcate unused asphalt.

“I know that a couple of the residents would actually like to see one of the lanes removed, and turn that lane into a bike lane,” Quaranta said. While there is a shared path on the north side of the parkway, the asphalt sidewalk on the south side is too narrow, she said.

There is template for bringing some sanity to the parkway. In 2012, DOT redesigned the Mosholu Parkway intersection with the Grand Concourse, adding a two-way protected bike lane, building new sidewalks, and replacing a slip lane with a pedestrian plaza and plantings maintained by the friends group [PDF].

“Now we don’t have to go crazy going to see which car is coming in which direction. It’s just easier,” Quaranta said. She wants those types of improvements on the rest of the parkway. “I’m not a designer. I’m not an engineer,” she said. “We’re hoping that DOT comes in, because that’s their responsibility.”

DOT says it hasn’t yet received correspondence from community groups or officials about Mosholu Parkway, but that might change soon. Council Members Andrew Cohen and Ritchie Torres are organizing a town hall meeting about the parkway, and the Community Board 7 parks committee is drafting a letter to get the de Blasio administration’s attention, reports Norwood News.

Residents in Bedford Park and Norwood aren’t the only ones who want to see changes on Mosholu Parkway. Montefiore Medical Center, Fordham University, the New York Botanical Garden and the Bronx Zoo have been working together for years to secure streetscape and park upgrades near their facilities. The groups are interested in reviving a plan for Mosholu that has been gathering dust since 2007.

“The people that actually use the park were not included in [that plan]. I know they mean well,” Quaranta said of the institutions. “We really want the community members to come out and play with maps and tell us how they use the space.”

The town hall is scheduled for April 29 at 7 p.m. at the Bedford Park Senior Center, 243 East 204th Street.