Council looks to slow down drivers near schools

Look for changes before classes resume in September

June 30, 2014 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Council looks to slow down drivers near schools
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School’s out for the summer, but in the City Council, school is very much on members’ minds.

Brooklyn council members are working on ways, both big and small, to force motorists to slow down when driving past school buildings.

In Gravesend, Councilman Mark Treyger (D-Coney Island-Gravesend-Bensonhurst) teamed up with a political ally, Assemblyman Bill Colton (Gravesend-Bensonhurst), to convince the Department of Transportation (DOT) to install a speed bump on the street outside PS 95 to slow down speeding drivers as they pass the school.

The speed bump will increase the safety of children and other pedestrians as they cross the street near the school at 345 Van Sicklen St., according to Treyger.

DOT is expected to put in the speed bump before the start of school in September.

On another front, Councilman David Greenfield said his effort to increase safety around schools is starting to pay dividends. Mayor Bill de Blasio recently signed into law a bill sponsored by Greenfield (D-Borough Park-Midwood-Bensonhurst) to establish 50 “school safety zones” around the city, as well as seven more neighborhood safety zones.

Established by the city in 2013, neighborhood safety zones have reduced speed limits.

Greenfield called his legislation an essential part of the mayor’s grand Vision Zero plan, an initiative announced by de Blasio in February that is aimed at reducing the number of pedestrians injured or killed by motor vehicles on city streets.

“It’s not every day that you get to pass laws that will literally save lives,” Greenfield said. “We have more children and seniors living in our community than just about any other in New York City. The fact is that by slowing down, we will literally save our friends’ and neighbors’ lives.”

Greenfield’s legislation will establish 50 “school slow zones” of up to 1,300 feet from the entrance or exit of a school. At designated “school slow zones,” the speed will be no more than 20 mph. In addition to the 50 “school slow zones,” seven more “neighborhood slow zones,” no more than five blocks long, will be established, designating the speed limit at 20 mph. 

Greenfield urged his constituents to call his Brooklyn district office at 718-853-2704 to offer recommendation on school they would like to see established as slow zones.

Approximately 250 people are killed and 4,000 are seriously injured every year in traffic crashes, the majority of which are pedestrians, according to Greenfield.

In addition to the slow zones, Greenfield is also urging the New York Police Department to increase the number of school crossing guards at dangerous street corners. He has also asked the city to add more safety measures to streets, like more pedestrian countdown signals and flashing warning lights to warn large trucks of low underpasses. 

Taken together, the Greenfield and Treyer initiatives show that the council is paying close attention to school crossings.

Treyger and Colton recently met with Brooklyn Transportation Commissioner Joseph Palmieri and a group of parents and educators on the street outside PS 95 to discuss the speed bump request.

Treyger said that parents told him cars constantly speed on Van Sicklen street, putting children’s’ lives in danger.

As a result of the onsite meeting, DOT conducted traffic studies and worked with a homeowner on Van Sicklen Street who agreed to allow the city to install the speed hump near the homeowner’s driveway. At that point, the decision to install the speed bump was a go.

“This is a simple but vital step we can take to protect the students of P.S. 95 as they walk to and from school each day,” Treyger said. “After all, there is nothing as important as the safety of our children. As soon as I heard about this issue, I knew it was imperative to act before any more accidents or close calls occur due to reckless and dangerous drivers speeding through that area.”

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