Local Leaders and Safe Streets Advocates Call for Pedestrian Safety Improvements after Tragic Fatality in Bronx

On Tuesday, September 7, a local community member in the northwest Bronx was killed by a bus in an intersection that has long attracted safety concerns from pedestrians.

BRONX, NY – Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, Council Member Eric Dinowitz, Community Board 8 District Manager Ciara Gannon, and advocates for safe streets gathered at the intersection of Kappock Street and Johnson Avenue on Friday, three days after a bus struck and killed a local woman, Ruth Mullen, who was crossing the street in this location. The local leaders and advocates were united in calling for the NYC Department of Transportation to take expeditious action to make the intersection safer for pedestrians.

Council Member Dinowitz and Assemblyman Dinowitz have both spoken with the Bronx DOT Commissioner about the need for safety improvements at this intersection.

The tragic pedestrian death in the northwestern Bronx comes amidst a concerning rise in traffic fatalities throughout New York City over the past two years, with NYPD reporting 176 fatalities citywide through September 5, 2021. This number corresponds to a nearly 25% rise in traffic fatalities compared to this point in 2020.

Local residents have long expressed concern about pedestrian safety at the intersection of Johnson Avenue and Kappock Street, which is a frequently-used thoroughfare that connects the Spuyten Duyvil neighborhood with nearby Kingsbridge. It is also a common pass-through for people connecting from the Henry Hudson Parkway to the Major Deegan Expressway as well as the Broadway Bridge. The intersection also serves as a bus stop for several major bus routes, including the Bx10, Bx20, BxM1, BxM2, and BxM18 lines.

Several years ago, Assemblyman Dinowitz was successful in getting a stop sign installed for northbound traffic on Johnson – alleviating a major safety concern where cars previously only had to stop in two out of the three possible directions at the intersection. Now, local residents and leaders are asking for additional improvements — suggesting that DOT consider installing traffic signals, speed humps, curb extensions, and other ideas to make it safer for people to cross the street.

Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz said: "There is nothing we can say or do that will bring Ruth back to our community, but we can work to prevent this type of tragedy from happening again. Walkable neighborhoods are livable neighborhoods, and there is resounding support in our community to make this intersection safer for pedestrians. We need DOT to take expeditious action and come up with pedestrian safety improvements quickly."

"On Tuesday night, our community suffered an incredible tragedy when a life was taken while crossing the street, just minutes from her home,” said Council Member Eric Dinowitz. “We cannot skirt around the reality of the situation--traffic violence is a deadly epidemic in our city. We know for a fact that there are proven ways to better protect pedestrians, and we demand that the Department of Transportation take immediate steps to make this intersection safer with infrastructural upgrades that have demonstrated evidence of saving lives."

Community Board 8 District Manager Ciara Gannon said: "On behalf of Bronx Community Board 8, we send our deepest condolences to the family, friends and neighbors of Ruth Mullen. We thank the first responders of this community who rushed to Ruth's aide on Tuesday evening.Community Board 8 is committed to working with NYC DOT and community members to ensure that this intersection, as well as others, is made safe for everyone."

"Our hearts ache for all who knew and loved Ruth Mullen. Burying our partners, parents, kids and friends should not be part of the New York City experience. But this is the reality we are faced with every day because our leaders have not confronted the public health crisis of traffic violence," said Irma Rosenblatt, Families for Safe Streets member. “In 2014, my mother, Ida Rosenblatt, was struck by a speeding SUV turning the corner on Netherland Ave. Like Ruth, she was vibrant, energetic, civically active -- and merely walking near her home. Mayor de Blasio must immediately enable the redesign of the Kappock Street and Johnson Avenue intersection and hundreds of other dangerous intersections in the Bronx.Albany must pass the Crash Victim Rights and Safety Act, which includes Sammy’s Law so safer speed limits could be set across the five boroughs. The power to stop traffic violence is in our leaders’ hands. We just need them to use it."