Slow Zone Program Comes To Neighborhood
The Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Neighborhood Slow Zone program is coming to Corona by the end of the year, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan announced at a Tuesday, July 10 press conference in the neighborhood.
The 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- builds on the city’s 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.
The 13 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.
Joining Bloomberg and Sadik- Khan were NYPD Transportation Bureau Chief James Tuller, Borough President Helen Marshall, Assemblyman Francisco Moya, Council Members Julissa Ferreras and James Vacca and Giovanna Reid, district manager of Community Board 3, which unanimously supported the implementation of the Slow Zone in a vote last Thursday, 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,” said Bloomberg in a statement. “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.”
“Our neighborhoods are where New Yorkers live, where they go to school, where they play and where they pray,” added Sadik-Khan. “Our residential streets need to be drawn to this human scale, and by simply reducing the speed of passing cars by 10 miles per hour, we can save lives as we make the streets people walk along more inviting.”
“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 stated. “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 Corona Slow Zone is bordered by 34th Avenue to the north, 108th Street to the east, Roosevelt Avenue to the south and Junction Boulevard to the west. According to a press release, the quarter-mile area averaged more than 33 injuries per year from vehicular accidents and contains two schools as well as 10 pre-kidergarten/daycare/Head Start centers.
The Slow Zones are marked by a prominent blue gateway at all streets entering the area, with signs noting the 20 mph speed limit, and with speed bumps and the stenciling of “20 MPH” eight-foot-long letters on the street to make clear that motorists are in a reduced speed area.
Along with Corona, future Slow Zones are being eyed for Elmhurst, Jackson Heights/East Elmhurst and Auburndale, as well as in other neighborhoods throughout the city. 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.
Criteria considered in evaluating the Slow Zone applications included crash rates, community support, number of local schools, senior centers, daycare centers, subway stations and distinct boundaries. Areas that included fire stations, hospitals, truck routes were avoided and the amount of bus routes were kept to a minimum inside the proposed zone.
Neighborhood Slow Zones were first announced in 2010 as part of the DOT’s Pedestrian Safety Study and Action Plan. In the first zone installed, in the Claremont section of the Bronx, preliminary data shows reduced speed at six out of seven locations where speed bumps have been installed and top speeds already have been reduced by approximately 10 percent.
According to the DOT. 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 201-a 38 percent reduction. This includes reductions in vehicle and pedestrian fatalities. The rate of annuual cyclist fatalities remains stable despite the number of cyclists quadrupling since 2001.
The number of crashes with injuries declined severely, 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 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 DOT noted.