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Slower Slope speed limit would make Greenwood Heights a race track, locals say

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Park Slope residents who want the speed limit reduced think “twenty is plenty” — but Greenwood Heights neighbors say not so fast.

Some Park Slope parents and civic leaders want the city to draw up a special “slow zone” that would reduce the speed limit from 30 to 20 miles per hour on Sixth and Eighth avenues between Flatbush Avenue and the Prospect Expressway.

They hope the new speed limit would make the streets safer for kids and pedestrians, but Greenwood Heights residents fear the plan will turn their hood into a racetrack for cars playing catch-up.

Supporters — some of whom tout the motto, ‘Twenty is plenty!’ — say it would greatly reduce cut-through traffic from Prospect Park West and prevent crashes.

“Given all the kids we have in this neighborhood, it’s a good idea,” said Eric McClure of Park Slope Neighbors. “The area is ripe for it.”

But that worries neighbors south of the Prospect Expressway, who say time-crunched drivers will be more likely to step on the gas and drive recklessly once they leave the “slow zone.”

Greenwood Heights activists claim drivers heading south on Sixth Avenue already speed up once they cross the Prospect Expressway and hit a five-block stretch between 20th and 25th streets with no stop signs.

“It’s already treacherous,” said resident Sarah Raskin. “This would divert unsafe driving from one neighborhood to another.”

At least three cars have crashed on Sixth Avenue near 23rd Street in the past year, including one driver who smashed into the Green-wood Cemetery in September, according to the Concerned Citizens of Greenwood Heights.

An only-in-Park-Slope speed limit reduction would exacerbate the problem, neighbors fear.

“Park Slope shouldn’t be so myopic in its approach to safety,” said Aaron Bradshear of the Concerned Citizens of Greenwood Heights. “Here’s one neighborhood that’s not being sensitive to another.”

The Park Slope Civic Council held a meeting on Saturday to gauge support — within the neighborhood — for the proposed “slow zone.” President Michael Cairl said the group has not yet decided whether to request the speed limit reduction from the Department of Transportation by the city’s Feb. 3 deadline.

In other areas with 20-mile-per-hour speed limits, including one in the Claremont section of the Bronx, traffic engineers have tried to get motorists to cut their speed by narrowing the roadway, building speed bumps and adding street markings.

Any community board or civic association can apply for a “slow zone” — including the ones in Greenwood Heights — city officials say.

Reach reporter Natalie O'Neill at noneill@cnglocal.com or by calling her at (718) 260-4505.

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Reader Feedback

Eric McClure from Park Slope says:
We don't think it's being myopic to care about the safety of vulnerable street users wherever they may reside, and PSN believes that a lower residential speed limit throughout New York City would make life safer for everyone. And as noted in the report, it's not a zero-sum game -- the Department of Transportation is accepting applications from all neighborhoods. We encourage the Concerned Citizens of Greenwood Heights to apply. We certainly don't consider this a case of pitting one neighborhood against another.
Jan. 24, 2012, 10:12 am
Thfs from All of them says:
Uh, what? Has it been shown ever that a slow zone makes people drive faster elsewhere? This doesn't make any sense.
Jan. 24, 2012, 10:14 am
SwampYankee from ruined brooklyn says:
Hope they reduce the cyclist speed to 20MPH too! Maybe they can stop at red lights and really make the place safer
Jan. 24, 2012, 10:20 am
S from PPW says:
Simple solution: make Greenwood Heights a slow zone, too.

Plus, cars are ALREADY crashing in GH without playing "catch up" there. Three crashes near 6th and 23rd in one year? Is that Park Slope's fault?
Jan. 24, 2012, 10:29 am
Shirl from Windsor Terrace says:
I would argue that it's the drivers from other neighborhoods that race through our streets that are being insensitive.

The problem isn't that slow speed limits force drivers to speed up elsewhere. The problem is that speeding in one area causes drivers to think they can speed wherever the heck they want.

Greenwood Heights residents like Aaron Bradshear should be more sensitive to his neighbors.
Jan. 24, 2012, 10:48 am
SwampYankee from ruined brooklyn says:
Rabble rabble irrelevant comment rabble rabble bicycles kill our children and are ruining Brooklyn rabble rabble Brooklyn was so much better before you people moved here rabble rabble Car drivers rights now! Rabble rabble.
Jan. 24, 2012, 11:05 am
Hank from Yaphank says:
Eric Mclure's right. Greenwood Heights says they have a problem, they should fix their problem and not complain about Park Slope actually taking action to save lives.

Why aren't they applying for a similar zone? The DOT might be more receptive to both areas if they are both applying!
Jan. 24, 2012, 11:06 am
Steve from 9th St says:
This isn't at all about whether or not Greenwood Heights residents will see speeding cars in THEIR neighborhood. This is about Greenwood Heights residents upset that they will no longer be able to speed through OURS as they drive to and from work.

Sorry, but your convenience does not trump my child's safety.
Jan. 24, 2012, 11:12 am
Jayne from Crown Heights says:
This is a ridiculous argument. How about slowing down and adding time to your commute. Our streets run primarily through residential neighborhoods. No where else that I have lived allows cars to drive as fast as they do here through residential areas. Make Greenwood Heights 20 is plenty as well. Make all of our neighborhoods 20!
Jan. 24, 2012, 11:27 am
Mike says:
These people come off as totally insane. If they want safety in their neighborhood, why don't they apply for a slow zone too?!?
Jan. 24, 2012, 11:31 am
Jet Jones from Park Slope says:
I agree Steve. Often the opposition to these sorts of safety measures comes from car drivers who are only concerned about how fast they can drive from point A to point B. These callous indviduals couldn't care less about the well being of our children as they pompously speed about our neighborhood. I’m glad to see people taking initiative instead of waiting for some kind of tragedy to create a change.
Jan. 24, 2012, 11:43 am
JR from Park Slope says:
I have NEVER seen speed limits enforced in Park Slope in my 20 years living there. Doubt things will change even with a new, lower limit.
Jan. 24, 2012, 11:53 am
Eric from Slope says:
These steps need to be taken before the stadium opens up. LI and South Brooklyn Drivers are bound to think they can use our neighborhood as a short cut to the stadium.
Jan. 24, 2012, 11:54 am
ty from pps says:
If the 30 mph speed limits aren't being enforced... in Park Slope OR Greenwood.... why would *any* speed limit be enforced? Make it 5 mph. It really doesn't matter with the NYPD doing nothing to enforce speed limits or other forms of reckless driving.
Jan. 24, 2012, 12:15 pm
Fuzzbee from Prospect height says:
these is very same jerk all the time what i dumb arguings around here!
how dumb.
Jan. 24, 2012, 12:58 pm
Blu from Brooklyn says:
Natalie O'Neill strikes again! This time, she adds more proof that she knows nothing about traffic or urban planning and cares little about learning more. Controversy sells papers!

http://www.streetsblog.org/2012/01/24/adding-neighborhood-20-mph-zones-isnt-a-zero-sum-game/
Jan. 24, 2012, 1:47 pm
Mike says:
It's too bad that Concerned Citizens of Greenwood Heights (the new NBBL?) are more interested in zooming through Park Slope than in actual safety research.

Here's some actual safety research, which a real journalist might have cited in this article:

http://www.streetsblog.org/2012/01/24/adding-neighborhood-20-mph-zones-isnt-a-zero-sum-game/
Jan. 24, 2012, 2:42 pm
Jacob from Clinton Hill says:
It looks like every single commenter has been able to figure out that both neighborhoods can have slow zones, and everyone wins. As usual, Natalie O'Neill seems hell bent on stirring up controversy anyway. Why pit neighbor against neighbor, Natalie? Why?
Jan. 24, 2012, 2:43 pm
Peter from Brooklyn Heights says:
So should neighborhoods not have fire departments, as that will just make the arsonists go somewhere else?

>The problem is that speeding in one area causes drivers >to think they can speed wherever the heck they want.

Tru dat!
Jan. 24, 2012, 2:57 pm
Other Michael from Park Slope says:
Every neighborhood in NYC should be a slow zone!
Jan. 24, 2012, 3:13 pm
Other Michael from Park Slope says:
The #1 cause of fatalities among kids ages 1 - 12 years old in New York is getting hit by cars

http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/downloads/pdf/ip/ip-nyc-inj-child-fatality-report.pdf

More than homicides, fires, falls, or anything else. Children getting hit by cars.

Every neighborhood in NYC should be a slow zone!
Jan. 24, 2012, 3:25 pm
Eric McClure from Park Slope says:
From a 2009 British Medical Journal study of neighborhood slow zones, via Streetsblog (Mike posted the link above at 2:42 p.m.):

"Data 'suggests that casualties inside 20 mph zones are not being displaced to nearby roads.' And on top of that, they found a spillover effect, with traffic injuries and deaths declining eight percent in areas adjacent to the slow zones (within 350 meters, or about two NYC blocks)."

The bottom line, though, is that every residential neighborhood in NYC should be a Slow Zone.
Jan. 24, 2012, 3:30 pm
Scott from Park Slope says:
Why limit speeds to 20mph on 6th & 8th Aves alone? The whole area could stand to slow traffic down. Park Slope is crawling with toddlers, and the speeds cars go here are a tragedy waiting to happen. If you need to move quickly through the area, take the --wait for it-- expressways to get there! Not sure which those are? Well, here's a hint: it's in the name. Prospect EXPRESSWAY. Brooklyn-Queens EXPRESSWAY. But do not get on 4th Avenue and expect to jam through at 65mph.
Jan. 24, 2012, 3:36 pm
Boxarch from Park Slope says:
The Slow Zone meeting on Saturday was a farce. The fix was in for Slow Zones with speed bumps and plenty of signs and road markings. The one question asked about the down side of speed bumps was rudely dismissed and then ignored. It is disheartening to see the trickle down effect of uncivil discourse. We, including Congress, would be much better served if we tried to find solutions to our communal problems by listening to other objections and criticisms and by trying to find ways to accommodate them. Who knows, we might even get things that work for many groups and interests, rather than for a one or a few groups with special interests.
On a similar note re the concern for dangerous biking: How about rumble strips (or gravel/cobble stones) where bike paths cross pedestrian crossings etc? Such textures would, like speed bumps, force speeding bicyclists to slow down.
Jan. 24, 2012, 3:55 pm
S from PPW says:
Boxarch, there were about 80 people at the meeting and only two -- yes, two -- people were against slow zones and, to top it off, they were only against slow zones on their specific blocks. They were in favor of it elsewhere in the neighborhood.

If there's anyone out there who's in favor of continuing the status quo of allowing drivers to speed through the neighborhood they were not represented at the well publicized meeting.

All options are on the table now - some blocks may have speed bumps, others may not. The ideas are part of a tool kit. Just because you have a screwdriver in your toolkit do you use it every time you need a hammer?

How about rumble strips where car lanes cross pedestrian crossings?
Jan. 24, 2012, 4:14 pm
jbob from Park Slope says:
Both sides are absurd. Few drivers in NYC pay attention to the speed limit in any neighborhood knowing full well that an overtaxed police force doesnt have the resources to enforce speed limits beyond citing the most reckless of drivers.
Jan. 24, 2012, 5:05 pm
Aaron Brashear from Greenwood Heights says:
Eric and all,

Thanks for a lively discussion. As is the want of City agencies, like DOT, the slice and dice up neighborhoods, rather than looking at the big picture. The very reason the possible slow zone change stops at the Prospect Expressway is a perfect indication of this.

For the record:

•For the past 4 years we have asked (and had) 2 traffic studies of the corner of 23rd St and 6th Ave to no avail (we are looking for a 3 way stop), even though the stats show the number of accidents has increased. In addition, we believe DOT did not even do a second study as the forms they filled showed a non-existant construction fence and whited-out dates.

•My fellow neighbor Sarah Raskin has been working with CB7 (on behalf of her neighborhood and the CCGH) to get a speeding study of 6th Ave from the Prospect Expressway to 24th Street...the very cut of of the Park Slope slow zone. And has anyone at DOT put those two things together? No.

And I am advocating for safe streets period. I do not believe they should stop at one cross street and begin at another. And incase folks have not noticed, we have close to 500 new residential units south of the Expressway, not to mention lots of existing home. Lots of more people, lots of more children, just like north of the Expressway.

I was not able to make Saturday's meeting, and was reacting to the info I was receiving about the proposal, as have many of my fellow community members.

I will reach out an olive branch to Eric and PSN and see if ALL of 6th Ave may be reviewed, regardless of neighborhood boarders.

Eric, you have my contact info, as I have yours.

Aaron Brashear
Co-founder, Concerned Citizens of Greenwood heights
Member, Brooklyn Community Board 7
Jan. 24, 2012, 5:08 pm
Aaron Brashear from Greenwood Heights says:
However, I will add (and perhaps echo some of the comments here), without proper enforcement form NYPD, all of this is fairly useless, imho.

Aaron
Jan. 24, 2012, 5:09 pm
Alan from Prosp. Hts. says:
Aaron, none of you comments address the central premise of your claim: that slowing down drivers in one neighborhood would cause them to speed in another. What is the basis for this idea? It is not borne out in studies on the subject.

Your comments regarding appeals to DOT for traffic and speeding studies are related to Slow Zones only in that I sense some resentment in how you perceive to have been treated by DOT.

The DOT is not slicing up neighborhoods, as you say. Rather, it's up to the neighborhoods to choose for themselves which areas to include. The Slow Zone application process is dependent on individual neighborhoods to propose five-block stretches where such a zone would be appropriate. By definition, they must start at one street and stop at another, but there is nothing stopping people on one side of the divide or the other from requesting an additional five-block stretch. If Greenwood Heights residents want a slow zone in any part or all of the neighborhood, they are free to submit an application just as residents are doing in Park Slope and Prospect Heights.

I encourage you to reach out to the PSCC or PHNDC to find out how they are doing their applications and take whatever lessons you want for yours. There's absolutely no reason why the entire city couldn't see some sort of Slow Zone, but it takes active, concerned citizens doing something about it, not just jealousy, complaining, and wild claims with little basis in any kind of fact.

Feeding a conflict-driven Natalie O'Neill simply doesn't help. She doesn't know anything on the subject and doesn't care to find out.
Jan. 24, 2012, 5:26 pm
Aaron Brashear from Greenwood Heights says:
Alan,

Thanks for your thoughts.Could have done with a bit less vitriol, but what's done is done.

If my community organizations would like to request a slow zones study, then we'll begin review with CB7's Transportation Committee, as this same issue may come up in other parts of CB7.

Unfortunately regionalisms of neighborhood boundaries (perceived or real), community boards, etc. sometime makes communication of items like these across one block to another difficult, but not impossible.

We hope to work with PSN, PSCC and PHNDC. I wish there was a forum where all of the local community groups could vet their ideas for all to benefit from. Perhaps something to work on...

Aaron

PS. Natalie is just doing her job, and sometimes that may not be as in depth reporting as folks might like to see. It's a hyper local paper which sells ad space by readership. Folks should know by the nature of the paper's slant (and it's owner the News Corporation) and take most quotes with a grain of salt.
Jan. 24, 2012, 5:43 pm
S from PPW says:
Wow, Aaron. You accuse Park Slope residents of being "myopic" and "insensitve," and then you complain of vitriol in the response? That's rich.
Jan. 24, 2012, 8:09 pm
Boxarch from Park Slope says:
In reply to "S":
Yes, rumble strips or the like would be useful at the crossings - where pedestrians are meant to cross. In fact I was hoping to bring that up as I have recently experience something similar on the Amherst College Campus which is in an small urban setting with a main state road running through it. However, as I said previously, the tone of the discussion was, and is even in these exchanges of comments is, not conducive to solving problems.
Jan. 25, 2012, 6:30 am
Scott from Park Slope says:
We all agree that the NYPD does a terrible job enforcing speed limits already. It's par for the course with any quality of life issue like noise complaints or graffiti.

But traffic calming through comprehensive design of the streetscape can accomplish a lot, without having to have a cop sitting there with a radar gun. Bulb-outs at corners, timing traffic lights differently, rumble strips, bumps, bollards, landscaping all send a subtle (and not so subtle) message to slow down. Just look at the effect that changing the timing of the lights on 8th Avenue had! 5 years ago that was a drag strip, but now it's actually counter-productive to drive faster than 20 mpg because you'll be starting and stopping constantly instead of cruising along uninterrupted.

All we need is a DOT that treats our streets like everyone's shared space instead of an undeclared speedway to appease recalcitrant motorheads from the Baby Boom generation.
Jan. 25, 2012, 12:14 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
I could never stand some of those complaining about how fast cars go when those in bicycles are doing the same thing. Even if all motorists did follow the rules, what about cyclists who are constantly flouting the laws on a daily basis? This almost reminds me of Newt Gingrich with his complaint on others having marital affairs when he does this himself. If you believe that rules are so important, then start with yourself before going to others. Practice what you preach for once. I do agree that reducing speed limits do nothing unless enforced.
Jan. 25, 2012, 6:33 pm
Other Michael from Park Slope says:
Tal

We were all waiting for you uninformed opinion.

This not about cyclists.

and there are many things that will reduce speed and make the streets safer besides enforcement.
Jan. 25, 2012, 7:01 pm
tom from sunset park says:
I attended the PS/PH meeting on Saturday but I listened and did not comment(interfere).
I got the sense everyone there thought that a 'blanket' application of the entire of Park Slope(Flatbush/PPW/Prospect Xway/4th Avenue) and Prospect Heights(Flatbush/Atlantic/Washington/Eastern Pkwy)was to be initiated. DOT will be waiting for that application and we could all go home.
I've read the DOT website, as some others here have. They want small off the-beaten-track residential plots with little traffic and consensus among the residents(look at The Claremont Pilot). I read this as meaning no arterial roads(i.e., PPW and all north/south avenues), as are high-volume side-streets. Also, consensus means the residents on the blocks directly affected. DOT has learned from the struggle for the PPW Bike Lane. It does not appear they will accept that residents on streets directly involved will welcome an improvement unless they clearly and overwhelmingly assent to it. DoT does not want a repeat of PPW.
Jan. 25, 2012, 7:25 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Other Michael, I find that an irony, especially when you and your bike zealout friends talked about cars a lot in the Prospect Park articles when they had nothing to do with those issue, so consider this something right back at you.
Jan. 25, 2012, 7:29 pm
Other Michael from Park Slope says:
Tal

If you actually had ever spend some time on the roadways in Prospect Park you would understand that the fact that car drivers get to use the park drives for 2 hours every week day creates a set of rules that is confusing the other hours.
Jan. 26, 2012, 6:14 am
Gretta from Prosp. Hts. says:
Aaron - what evidence do you have to support your claim that slow traffic in one area creates speeding in others? Any? Please tell us where you got this info.
Jan. 26, 2012, 11:39 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Here is the point, that plan for saying "Twenty is Plenty" may work over in the suburbs of London, but this is NYC. Last time I checked, NYC isn't London, or at least hasn't been since after the American Revolution. Just because a plan works somewhere else doesn't mean that it works here. I feel that pedestrians and cyclists should follow the rules as well. Pedestrians wouldn't always get hit if they just walked when they had the signal and where the crosswalk is, while cyclist should just obey the traffic laws altogether. Just making so that only one group must follow the laws aren't going to make the streets any safer, everyone needs to play their part, and there are no exemptions here to anyone.
Jan. 26, 2012, 4:24 pm
Other Michael from Park Slope says:
Tal

As a parent who as young children who are about to start walking back and forth to school I am so glad that nobody cares what you say.
Jan. 26, 2012, 9:04 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Other Michael, you keep on forgetting that I am a nerdy leftist, so I don't need you are anyone else's approval, so say whatever you want, because it doesn't affect me.
Jan. 26, 2012, 9:27 pm
Other Michael from Park Slope says:
Tal

I don't really care if I affect you or not. I am just glad nobody who actually makes decisions here in Brooklyn considers your opinion relevant.
Jan. 27, 2012, 6:24 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Other Michael, if those living in Greenwood Height don't want a 20 MPH speed limit zone, then it shouldn't be forced on them. It's their neighborhood, not your's. Perhaps, they have good reasons for their opposition to such. I think a better idea is to have a uniform speed limit for local roads rather than have some where it's completely different from others, and I think the same should go for highways. Still, pedestrians and cyclists should play their role in following the traffic laws as well for anything to actually work or there will always be a problem.
Jan. 27, 2012, 5:47 pm
SY from Brooklyn says:
We have a uniform speed limit in NYC: 30 MPH. Few drivers observe it.
Jan. 28, 2012, 6:06 pm
Other Michael from Actually in Park Slope says:
Tal

"Still, pedestrians and cyclists should play their role in following the traffic laws as well for anything to actually work or there will always be a problem."

What?
Jan. 29, 2012, 6:47 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
What didn't you get Other Michael? Why should only one group of people follow the rules while the rest don't need to? What's the point of having rules when many will never follow them and cry foul about them, and this goes to all kinds, not just some? Start practicing what you preach for once to help set an example. I never did like this "Do as I say, not as I do", because it feels like an excuse for double standards. It's sort of like when the US was telling Europe to abolish slavery throuout the world in the early part of the 19th century, but was so hesitant to do the very same thing in their backyard to set an example.
Jan. 30, 2012, 5:50 pm
Other Michael from Park Slope says:
Tal

I do follow the rules. You have no idea how many red lights I stopped at on my bike today.

But the point is that 30 is to fast for cars in a residential neighborhood. You would know that if you were here more than once every few years.
Jan. 30, 2012, 9:43 pm
Aaron Brashear from Greenwood Heights says:
Tal,

The beef was not against a slow zone in our neighborhood...we'd actually be very much for traffic mitigation and reduced speeds along 6th Ave (read my posts above). It was the unfortunate way it came out that it stopped at Prospect Ave.

Anyway, water under the bridge. CB7 is going to take up the issue for ALL of the Board's area, not just 6th Ave, with the help of DOT and advise from PSCC.

Aaron
Feb. 1, 2012, 3:44 pm
Other Michael from Park Slope says:
Aaron

Don't confuse Tal with facts and real issues. He just wants to blame the worlds troubles on "rouge bikers"
Feb. 2, 2012, 6:38 am

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