Bed-Stuy Slow Zone Hits Speed Bump
Community Board 3 gives thumbs down to city proposal to reduce speed from 30 to 20 MPH
Citing concerns of increased police ticketing and traffic snares along Bed-Stuy’s major auto thoroughfares, Community Board 3 voted 27-4 on Monday to not recommend the city’s proposal to install a Neighborhood Slow Zone that straddles Clinton Hill and Bedford-Stuyvesant.
Under the Department of Transportation (DOT) plan, the speed limit in a large rectangular area bounded by Bedford Avenue to the east, Washington Avenue to the west, Lafayette Avenue to the north and Fulton Street to the south will be reduced from 30 to 20 miles an hour to adjust driver behavior on local streets. The major thoroughfare running through the center of the zone is the two-way at Gates Avenue, on which the highly utilized B52 bus runs.
The goal of the Neighborhood Slow Zone program, which is a holdover of the Bloomberg Administration, is to lower the incidence and severity of crashes and to enhance quality of life by reducing cut-through traffic and traffic noise in residential neighborhoods. Besides reducing the speed limit, DOT uses signs, markings and speed bumps to calm traffic within the zone.
But following a DOT presentation of the proposal, several board members and residents were critical of both the presentation for not providing enough data to justify the slow zone, and of the slow zone itself, and not having a sufficient and thought-out study. Critics also noted that the project footprint was expanded by about 10 blocks from the original plan.
Among these critics was the Classon-FulGate Block Association, which was one of 14 community groups and officials listed as supporters of the original project when it was introduced last October.
“Our block association is withdrawing our support,” said Demetrice Mills, president of the Classon-FulGate Block Association. “I drove in the area at 20 miles per hour as a test and the bicycles were just zooming past me. Traffic is already backed up real bad in the mornings on Classon Avenue and this will make it worse. When they put in the bike lanes, they made several streets one-way that were always two-way and that slows traffic, too.”
Mills said the city has also installed several stoplights in the proposed zone that are not in synch and that contributes to the traffic snarl-up.
While almost everybody spoke out against the plan in the “public comment” portion of the meeting, Bed-Stuy resident Ben Kintisch defended the slow down zone.
“I can’t remember how many times I’ve been walking with my child and scared to death because of a speeding motorist,” Kintisch said. “Most of us who have little ones, whether they’re children or grandchildren, think about it. If you slow down a little bit and save a life, it’s worthwhile.”
While the community board voted against the plan, it is a nonbinding vote and strictly a recommendation.
DOT said they plan on implementing the zone this spring.