District 10 City Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez at a protest against a ticket trap on W. 181st Street and St. Nicholas Avenue.
by Daniel P. Bader
Driving down W. 181st Street is a slow, terrible experience. Besides pedestrians crossing in the middle of the street, buses and double-parked cars entering traffic without regard to other drivers, there’s something else to watch out for – cops waiting to ticket cars stuck in the intersection.
At a protest on Mon., Dec. 28 called by the Fundación Minerva Mirabal, livery cab driver Elias Barreras said he was ticketed at the W. 181st Street and St. Nicholas Avenue intersection.
“Coming to the light everything [gets backed up]” he said. “When they see the bus, added Fundación Minerva Mirabal’s Carlos Leiter, gesturing to a bus whose back end was sticking into the intersection, “all the cars over there are ticketed,” he said, pointing to frustrated drivers in the intersection.
Barreras and Leiter were joined by representatives of several livery cab companies, as well as District 10 Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez.
The narrow street is overwhelmed with cars and buses – even during light traffic times. Five bus routes run along the street east of Broadway. Two of them, the BX3 and BX35, end their route in the neighborhood and loop around to head back to the Bronx. As vehicles stack up at lights, drivers, hoping the line will inch up before the light turns red, inevitably get stuck in the intersection and are ticketed.
“If you drive 125th Street there’s a team of one to two traffic agents moving traffic,” Rodriguez said. Ticketing drivers instead of helping move traffic on the street amounts to harassment, he said.
Rodriguez has put calls into the head of traffic enforcement to hopefully find a solution to the problem, but by press time had not received a reply. A request for comment from the NYPD press office was also not returned by press time.
The W. 181st Street corridor is by far the busiest street in Northern Manhattan and feeds into the Cross Bronx Expressway, which has been called the busiest stretch of highway in the nation. In 2008 the Department of Transportation agreed to study the issues surrounding the traffic-choked street. Not unlike a car on W. 181st Street, the study has been delayed.
In 2009 the study was expanded to included W. 178th Street and W. 179th Street, which according to Community Board 12 Traffic and Transportation chair Mark Levine, also have significant east-west traffic.
“That’s delayed the final project by at least a year,” he said.
At the Jan. 4 committee meeting, however, the DOT was expected to present some of its suggestions for easing congestion in the commercial corridor.
“We’re just waiting anxiously,” Levine said.