Wednesday, November 23, 2011

'Slow Zones' latest DOT measure to curb speeders

Here's the story from this week's Bronx Press that explains the new 'slow zone' that will be coming to more neighborhoods throughout the city. A Riverdale elected official has already said that he wants to bring the zone to part of his district, which you can read about here.

By Brendan McHugh 

Those with a lead foot are about to find it much more difficult to drive through the city. 

Slow zones create 20 mph
speed limits throughout a neighborhood.
The Department of Transportation began the city’s first-ever Neighborhood Slow Zone on Monday, reducing the local speed limit in Claremont from 30 mph to 20 mph and adding certain traffic calming measures.

Chosen because of the neighborhoods high accident and fatality rate, Claremont is getting nine new speed bumps in addition to the five already present, and other traffic calming measures such as signage and street markings are being added to the roads. 

Signs posting the 20 mph speed limit are at 14 entranceways to the quarter-square mile zone. Also, 14 more speed limit signs are post throughout the neighborhood and stencil speed limits on the street itself are in 45 different places.

Jump below for the full story.

Local residents are happy to see the city take notice of the dangerous situation in their neighborhood. 

“They’re actually taking care of safety,” said Michael Graziano. “There are a lot of schools, a lot of accidents because of speeding.” 

DOT commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan agreed.

(L-R) Diaz, Sadik-Khan, Vacca and Community Board 3
chair John Dudley cut the ribbon on the city's
first 'slow zone' in Claremont.
“To some people, this neighborhood is nothing more than a shortcut, and it’s become a speedway to zoom through this area and it has had deadly results,” said Sadik-Khan. “Today, we’re putting the brakes on that kind of action.” 

Graziano added that speeding is such a problem in the neighborhood that one of the 20 mph street signs that sit on a block within the street—not on a pole on the sidewalk—was destroyed by a speeding driver not long after it was put there. The city moved that sign to the sidewalk, though a second sign on the block is still on the other side of the street. 

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.

The city is encouraging community boards, politicians and community groups to apply for slow zones. The community board must approve the zone as well. 

Bronx Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz has already requested a slow zone for part of Riverdale. 

In October, he sent a letter to the DOT requesting speed bumps, a 20 mph speed limit and a stop sign, among other changes, for the area around PS 24 and MS/HS 141, which includes Independence Avenue from W. 232nd Street to W. 246th Street. 

“We didn’t refer to it as a particular name, but that’s what’s being requested,” he said, saying he didn’t know about the program until yesterday’s announcement. “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.” 

The speed limit in New York City is 30 mph unless otherwise posted. 

Safety is no laughing matter!
Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. said the complaints about speeding through Claremont are nothing new. When he represented the neighborhood in the state Assembly, constituents complained about the area often, and they haven’t stopped in the two years since he became borough president. 

“We know for a fact that slower drivers mean safer streets, and the implementation of this ‘slow zone’ in Claremont will lead to a safer community for children, parents, our senior citizens and everyone who lives in this great Bronx neighborhood,” Diaz said. 

Bronx City Councilman James Vacca, who also is the chair of the transportation committee in the City Council, hopes people will learn to respect the neighborhood. 

“I hope today sends a message to those who drive. The message is, look at your speedometer and see how actually fast you’re going and then slow down,” he said.

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