More Vision Zero traffic safety initiatives needed in the Bronx after deadly crashes, advocates say

Three Bronx crashes in one day, two of which were deadly, shows the need for more Vision Zero projects in the borough, according to Transportation Alternatives.
Three Bronx crashes in one day, two of which were deadly, shows the need for more Vision Zero projects in the borough, according to Transportation Alternatives. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

Transportation advocates are calling for more Vision Zero initiatives in the Bronx following three crashes in one day, two of which resulted in death.

Paul Steely White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives, said every crash that occurred in the borough on Monday could have been prevented.

“Too many dead, too many injured, too much traffic violence for any one borough to bear,” he said in a statement Wednesday.

Among the dead: an 8-year-old boy who was hit by a white minivan that was trying to parallel park on East 215th Street in Williamsbridge around 6 p.m. on Monday. The boy, Cellou Diallo, had just been dropped off by the driver when the woman lost control and the van jumped the curb, pinning him against a building, according to police.

Earlier in the day, Anton Pecovic, 51, was driving under the influence of alcohol in a gray 2003 Mercedes-Benz when witnesses said he ran a red light and slammed into a 2017 Nissan SUV, which spun and struck a building at 900 Morris Park Ave., according to police. Three people were sent to the hospital and Pecovic is facing several charges related to the noontime crash, including driving while ability impaired, cops said.

In Mount Hope, a truck driver hit and killed an unidentified man riding a bicycle on Webster Avenue, near the Cross Bronx Expressway, around 10:40 p.m. and then fled the scene, according to the NYPD. The hit-and-run driver was still on the loose, as of Thursday.

White called the crashes a “tragic moment for many,” adding that they should serve as a “wake-up call” for the city.

The Bronx has not been completely ignored by Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero initiative, which aims to reduce the number of traffic deaths and injuries across the city.

“Reducing traffic related injuries and fatalities is a top priority for DOT and 2017 marked the fourth consecutive year of declining traffic deaths citywide under Vision Zero,” DOT spokeswoman Lolita Avila said in an emailed statement Thursday. “By the end of 2017, the total number of traffic-related fatalities in the Bronx declined 17 percent from 2013. It also resulted in a 40 percent decline in pedestrian deaths in the Bronx.”

The Grand Concourse, a central traffic artery that runs north through most of the borough, was identified as a Vision Zero Priority Corridor in 2015 because of its high number of crashes. Over the course of two years, the city Department of Transportation overhauled 3.5 miles of the road between East 161st and East 198th streets with major redesigns that calmed traffic, added more pedestrian refuges and shortened pedestrian crossings, the mayor’s office said. The speed limit was also dropped to 25 mph and speed cameras were installed in school zones.

“Concourse has been one of the bigger projects that DOT has worked on, but there’s been other projects as well,” including intersection redesigns along 138th Street, Transportation Alternatives senior organizer Erwin Figueroa said.

Additionally, plans for protected bike lanes along Del Valle Square and Bruckner Boulevard were detailed in de Blasio’s 2018 Vision Zero report, released in March.

But White, Figueroa and other advocates with Transportation Alternatives are calling on the city to more widely implement Vision Zero projects — speed safety cameras, street redesigns and protected bike lanes — in the borough.

“There can be a whole lot that can be done in terms of safety,” Figueroa said.

Morris Park Avenue, where one of the crashes took place, was identified as one of 25 priority corridors with the highest number of incidents of fatalities and injuries in the DOT’s pedestrian action plan released in 2015.

“That same pedestrian action plan released by DOT should be the blueprint of where they should go,” with Vision Zero, Figueroa said.

The DOT also missed an opportunity to improve bike safety along Webster Avenue, where the cyclist was killed, when it failed to install bike lanes along with the street’s new bus lanes, Figueroa added.

“With this unfortunate incident, there should be a strong push to get bike infrastructure because they are going to bike whether you want them to or not,” he said.