Wednesday, November 23, 2011

New answer for school traffic woes?

A story from this week's Riverdale Review. There is a similar story in a separate post that fully explains the 'slow zone' practice that debuted in Claremont this week.

By Brendan McHugh 

Last month, elected officials requested slower speed limits, new signage and speed bumps for the area around PS 24 and MS/HS 141. 

Turns out, the City has a new program that can do just that. 

On Monday, the Department of Transportation announced its first-ever Neighborhood Slow Zone in Claremont. The slow zone reduces the speed limit in the quarter-square mile neighborhood from 30 mph to 20 mph, adds nine new speed bumps and over 50 new signs—both on poles and stenciled onto the street—to the area alerting drivers of the speed limit. 

Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, one of three legislators who wrote to DOT in October, says Independence Avenue is a model candidate for the new traffic safety program. 

“Given the area’s proximity to several schools, a public library, and houses of worship, I believe this stretch of Independence Avenue would be an ideal location for a Neighborhood Slow Zone,” he wrote in a letter to DOT commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan earlier this week. 

Jump below for the full story.

“The Neighborhood Slow Zone program includes many of the traffic changes we had requested for Independence Avenue, such as additional speed humps and a 20 miles per hour speed zone for the corridor from West 232nd Street to West 246th Street.” 

Along with Dinowitz, state Senator Adriano Espaillat and City Councilman G. Oliver Koppell requested the changes in October. 

Among the changes requested were placing stop signs at W. 235th Street and Independence Avenue, creating a 20 mph zone through the entire 14 block corridor, adjusting the traffic signals at the Henry Hudson Parkway overpasses at W. 232nd, 239th and 246th streets, and placing a speed bump on Independence Avenue. 

“We didn’t refer to it as a particular name, but that’s what’s being requested,” Dinowitz said in a phone interview. “Now that we know that’s what the city is doing, we certainly can’t be told we don’t do that.” 

He plans on filing a formal request with DOT soon. The city is urging community boards, politicians and community groups to request zones. The local community board must approve any slow zone.
Potential locations for the slow-speed zones are evaluated by severity crashes per mile and criteria such as the number of schools, senior and day care centers, as well as consideration of truck and bus routes and roadway types. 

“I’m pleased about this because the city recognized that in certain locations this can be very helpful in increasing safety for pedestrians and drivers as well.” 

He highlighted the number of institutions that cater to the young and old, both of which are demographics that are particularly vulnerable to traffic safety. 

“This corridor is an ideal candidate for the program due to the proximity of several schools, including PS 24, PS 24 Annex, MS/HS 141, and Riverdale Temple Nursery School, the Spuyten Duyvil Public Library, Riverdale Temple, and the Riverdale Jewish Center,” Dinowitz, Espaillat and Koppell wrote in the first letter. 

In announcing the program, Sadik-Khan said avoiding a deadly accident is as simple as slowing down drivers. 

“Local neighborhood streets are not highways, they are not shortcuts, they are where New Yorkers live,” she said. “A pedestrian struck by a car going 40 mph has a 70 percent chance of dying while a pedestrian stuck by a car going 20 mph has a 95 percent chance of surviving. Making neighborhoods safer can be as simple as reducing the speed on our residential streets.”

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