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Group Seeks to Make Staten Island Streets Safer for Pedestrians

By Nicholas Rizzi | May 29, 2013 9:47am
 Transportation Alternatives has started a campaign to make Richmond Terrace and Clove Road safer for bikers and pedestrians. Their plan would add bike lanes, better sidewalks and more crosswalks to the streets.
Richmond Terrace and Clove Road
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ST. GEORGE —  A campaign to make major roads easier to navigate for pedestrians and bicyclists is gaining traction on Staten Island.

Transportation Alternatives has started a campaign to add bike lanes, crosswalks and better sidewalks to Richmond Terrace and Clove Road to combat dangerous conditions for bicyclists and pedestrians.

While Richmond Terrace already has a mile of bike lanes near the St. George Ferry Terminal, it doesn't extend far enough to travel to places like Snug Harbor Cultural Center and the Bayonne Bridge, the only bridge on Staten Island that allows bike riders.

"People on Staten Island and Snug Harbor are always trying to encourage people to visit," said Meredith Sladek, Transportation Alternatives' Staten Island Activist Chair.

"I'm sure other people would love to bike to Snug Harbor if they knew about it and they felt safe traveling."

Clove Road — which has two parks and the Staten Island Zoo along the street — has no bike lanes at all and, because it's such a wide street, drivers frequently speed down the block which can make it a dangerous spot for bike riders and pedestrians, Sladek said.

"People deserve to be able to walk easily between the parks and back from the parks and be able to not worry about hitting into a car," she said.

"People shouldn't have to drive to bike in a park."

For both spots, Sladek wants the city to add more crosswalks at bus stops so riders have an easier time getting around.

"I would love to have crosswalks either at or visible from bus stops," she said. "It would make it that much safer to take the bus."

On Richmond Terrace, after the bike lanes cut out, the commute can get dangerous, said David Gaul, 26, a St. George resident.

The sidewalks on the curvy road are thin and can suddenly stop in spots on the waterfront side, Gaul said. The block also has long stretches where there's no traffic light or crosswalk to get to the other side.

"There's not many cross streets," he said. "The sidewalks are very, very poor on the water side."

And Gaul said that the bike lanes on Richmond Terrace leave a lot to be desired. During his bike ride to the ferry to go to school at Hunter College, where he's working on a master's degree in urban planning, said there are usually cars parked in the bike lane, on the sidewalk and even in the first car lane in front of the 120 Precinct and Family Court.

"You encounter countless obstructions at all times of the day or night," he said. "There's parking in front of the police precinct and family court. The bicycle lane and even the first travel lane are obstructed."

The parked cars also make it hard for pedestrians to cross the street because they can't see if a car is coming and have to walk into the street to check, Gaul said.

The coalition has asked for the city to find alternative parking for cars that need to go to the police precinct and court.

The group has just started its push for the traffic changes on the blocks, and will present their findings to the Department of Transportation soon.

The DOT did not respond to a request for comment for this story.

The changes to the Richmond Terrace are especially important, Sladek said, because of the New York Wheel and outlet malls planned for St. George.

When the projects finish, Sladek said there'll be an influx of more tourists to the neighborhood, and they should be able to get around by bike and on foot.

"A lot of people are anticipated to arrive by transit," she said. "It would definitely behove the area to make it more pedestrian friendly."

The group has sent letters to the local community board for support and has started to pass around a petition to get more residents on board.