City tells New Yorkers: slow down

August 13, 2014 Heather Chin
Share this:

“Slow and steady wins the race” is the message that city officials are hoping to convey to New Yorkers via a new 25 mph speed limit and the expansion of the Arterial Slow Zone (ASZ) program to 14 additional major thoroughfares.

On August 9, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed off on legislation giving New York City the authority to lower the default speed limit from 30 mph to 25 mph.

The speed limit reduction is a key goal of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero policy, and de Blasio cheered the announcement, stating “speeding is a citywide problem, and lowering the speed limit is a citywide solution.”

Lower speed limits are also part of the Arterial Slow Zone program (ASZ), which in addition implements recalibrated signal timing that aims to reduce incidents of speeding, more blue-and-white speed limit signs, temporary speed boards and increased traffic enforcement by NYPD.

New ASZ roadways include Coney Island Avenue (between Park Circle and the Boardwalk), Flatbush Avenue/Flatbush Avenue Extension (between Concord Street and Hendrickson Place), and Utica Avenue (between Malcolm X Boulevard and Flatbush Avenue).

These corridors were chosen based on citywide data on pedestrian fatalities and injuries, which showed these stretches to be the most dangerous.

Between 2008 and 2012, Coney Island Avenue saw six fatalities, Flatbush Avenue/Flatbush Avenue Extension saw 11 fatalities, and Utica Avenue saw 12 fatalities.

New speed limit signs and crossing signals will be implemented in September and October.

Brooklyn’s Atlantic Avenue was the first city street to undergo slow zone changes under the ASZ program. Eastern Parkway and McGuinness Boulevard soon followed.

The double dose of traffic-related news was welcomed by advocates and elected officials from across the city.

“Arterial roads only make up 15 percent of roads in the city, but make up 60 percent of pedestrian fatalities citywide,” noted Ryan Lynch, associate director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign. “So this is an aggressive move to counter those statistics and make the street safe for everyone who uses it.”

“Coney Island has long been a dangerous thoroughfare for seniors and others attempting to cross without a constant flow of traffic whizzing by,” said Assemblymember Steven Cymbrowitz. Councilmember Mark Treyger agreed, adding that he is “pleased [that] one of southern Brooklyn’s busiest streets is included in this plan.”

Advocacy group Families for Safe Streets was more circumspect, describing the new 25 mph speed limit as “heartening” and “a step in the right direction to directly address a serial killer on New York City’s streets: speeding cars,” but that “our work is just beginning.

“We need speed cameras at all hours,” said co-founder Aaron Charlop-Powers in a statement. “We need streets redesigned. We need consistent enforcement by the NYPD.”

Leave a Comment

Leave a Comment