Bloomberg, Sadik-Khan Create Slow Zones
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan have announced an expansion of the city Neighborhood Slow Zone program, which reduces the speed limit from 30 miles per hour to 20 miles per hour in residential neighborhoods and adds traffic calming measures to reduce speeding and improve safety on local streets.
The program builds on the city’s aggressive efforts to curb speeding, which helped bring traffic fatalities to the lowest levels in recorded history in 2011 and made the last four years the safest period in city history. Thirteen new areas have been preliminarily selected for implementation of Slow Zones. The locations, which currently are in the design and approval process, were all initially requested by local applicants and were evaluated based on crash history, community support, proximity of schools, senior centers and daycare centers, among many additional criteria. The city’s first-ever neighborhood Slow Zone was installed in November 2011 in the Claremont section of The Bronx. The mayor and commissioner made the announcement on July 10 in Corona, a community with significant pedestrian traffic that speeding drivers often use as a short-cut. They were joined by NYPD Chief of Transportation Bureau James Tuller, Queens Borough President Helen M. Marshall, Assemblymember Francisco P. Moya, Councilmember Julissa Ferreras, Councilmember James Vacca and Giovanna Reid, district manager of Community Board 3, which unanimously supported the implementation of the Slow Zone in a vote July 5.
“We’ve driven fatalities and injuries down to record lows through innovative traffic engineering, aggressive enforcement and an unwavering commitment to finding new ways to make our streets safer, as even one fatality is too many,” Bloomberg said. “We are continuing our assault on the number-one traffic killer: speeding. We’ve seen success already where we have installed Slow Zones and we expect safety will improve as speeding is reduced in these communities.”
The 13 locations preliminarily selected for implementation of a Slow Zone include Corona, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights/East Elmhurst and Auburndale.
Slow Zones are marked by a prominent blue gateway at all streets entering the area, with signs noting the 20 miles per hour speed limit, with speed bumps and the stenciling of 20 MPH in eight-foot-long letters on the street to make clear that motorists are in a reduced-speed area.
To continue to reduce traffic crashes on residential streets, Neighborhood Slow Zones were first announced in 2010 as part of the Department of Transportation’s Pedestrian Safety Study and Action Plan.
“The addition of this Slow-Zone in North Corona, where we have heavy pedestrian traffic particularly from students, seniors, and families, is a needed safety precaution,” Ferreras said. “As part of our ongoing work to curb the number of accidents due to speeding and heavy traffic, we must remember that the safety of the pedestrians should come first, and Slow Zones are an effective tool to help protect our community.”
The number of annual traffic fatalities in New York City has declined from 393 fatalities in 2001 to an all-time record low of 243 fatalities in 2011—a 38 percent reduction. This includes reductions in vehicle and pedestrian fatalities, and cyclist fatalities have remained stable despite the number of cyclists quadrupling since 2001. The first year traffic fatality records were kept in the city was 1910.
The number of crashes with any injury has declined drastically, from 79,518 in 2001 to approximately 53,870 in 2010, a difference of 25,648 fewer injury crashes per year. Final 2011 data is still being tabulated, but 2011 injury crash totals are expected to decline to below the 2010 level.
According to National Highway Traffic Safety Data, New York City has the lowest traffic-related fatality rate of any of the top 10 largest cities in the United States, with an average rate of 3.3 fatalities per 100,000 residents over the last three years.
The administration continues to improve street safety engineering in all five boroughs, including the addition of nearly 10,000 pedestrian countdown signals at more than 1,800 intersections in all five boroughs announced last year and installing more than 1,700 speed bumps citywide.
The Corona location, which covers .26 square miles, is bordered by 34th Avenue to the north, 108th Street to the east, Roosevelt Avenue to the south; and Junction Boulevard to the west. This area averaged more than 33 injuries per year and contains two schools as well as 10 pre- K/daycare/Head Start centers.
The Corona Slow Zone is scheduled to be implemented this year.
The DOT will continue to accept requests for Slow Zones from local communities and will select appropriate locations to present to Community Boards for approval. The department plans to re-open the application process again in 2013. For more information, including the criteria for establishing a neighborhood Slow Zone, visit www.nyc.gov.