In our previous series “The Worst Intersections in Queens”, we introduced you to Queens Boulevard, or as it is more commonly known as the ‘Boulevard of Death’ due the 72 pedestrian fatalities between 1993 and 2000. In this article we will be discussing the Bronx’s own boulevard of death – Grand Concourse. More specifically the intersection of Grand Concourse and 183rd street.
The 180 feet wide, 4.5-mile-long road is neither the longest nor the busiest road in the Bronx, however it has rapidly been gaining a reputation for being one of the most dangerous in New York City. Between 2009 and 2013, Grand Concourse saw 12 pedestrians killed and 43 seriously injured in traffic accidents.
In 2011, 11-year-old Russell Smith was struck by a gray Honda CR-V as he crossed the busy intersection of 183rd and Grand Concourse against a red light. Smith was pronounced dead at Bronx-Lebanon Hospital.
The features of this intersection, which had 6 pedestrian crashes in 2010, that make it so problematic for pedestrians are that the wide streets encourage drivers to speed and drive recklessly, the long crossing distances that pedestrians face when they cross the street, and the road’s heavy traffic during rush hour.
Another tragic pedestrian fatality was in 2005 when 12-year-old Virginia Verdee was struck by an off-duty cop as she was crossing the street while heading home from church.
The Department of Transportation has been implementing several changes to the intersection as a part of Vision Zero, whose aim is to reduce all traffic fatalities. To promote pedestrian safety, the street markings and crosswalks were repainted with an advance stop bar added to increase visibility of pedestrians on the crosswalk, left turn signal was added to organize traffic, countdown signals were added to aid pedestrians with crossing the wide road, and “Look” pavement markings were added to alert pedestrians of traffic. Some locals believe that these changes are not enough to stop the erratic driving and that more crossing guards are needed to help pedestrians cross the street and regulate traffic.
Since Vision Zero was first started in the Bronx, there has been a slight decrease in pedestrian deaths. However, until all the projects have been completed it is strongly cautioned for both drivers and pedestrians to be aware of their surroundings when crossing this intersection. Next week will be the final article in this series.