Mayor announces lower speed limits on two busy Brooklyn streets

sunset park cyclist death
The city plans to lower the speed limit to 25 miles-per-hour on Third Avenue, where six people were killed by drivers in 2019, including cyclist Em Samolewicz in July.
Photo by Caroline Ourso

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the city will limit cars to 25 miles-per-hour along Third and Hamilton avenues next month in an effort to increase street safety amid rising traffic deaths along the roadways — which are among the most treacherous in the borough.

“We’re increasing our traffic enforcement efforts and lowering the speed limit on two of Brooklyn’s busiest streets to ensure that all New Yorkers arrive home safely for the holidays,” said de Blasio.

The Department of Transportation will reduce the maximum legal speeds from 30 to 25 miles-per-hour along a 2.3 mile stretch of Third Avenue between Prospect Avenue and 62nd Street — where cars fatally struck six people this year, compared with two people throughout all of 2018. 

City regulators will make a similar change along a 1.9 mile stretch of Hamilton Avenue — from Luquer Street to 18th Street, according to the agency’s head, who claimed the changes would create calmer roads connecting Brooklyn neighborhoods. 

“We believe that lowering the speed limit along Third and Hamilton avenues, coupled with strong enforcement, will help calm traffic in the burgeoning neighborhoods of Gowanus, Red Hook and Sunset Park,” said Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg.

The year has been particularly deadly for both Kings County cyclists and pedestrians, with traffic fatalities increasing for the first time since de Blasio launched his Vision Zero initiative in 2014.

This year, motorists fatally struck 29 cyclists citywide, including 18 in Brooklyn — compared with 10 citywide, and two in Brooklyn, throughout 2018.

The situation is also grim for pedestrians — where 117 sidewalk straddlers died in traffic, compared with 115 last year. Officials attribute part of the rise to the increase of SUVs and light trucks on the roads, which were involved in 46-percent of deadly crashes since the start of 2018, compared to 40 percent between 2013-17.

Meanwhile, motorcyclist deaths dropped from 40 last year to 25 thus far in 2019 across the five boroughs.

In addition to the lower speed regulations, the mayor also directed the Police Department to up enforcement, especially during the holiday weeks, which are the darkest and tend to be among the most dangerous days on the streets, according to hizzoner’s second-in-command.

“During this final week of 2019, which has historically proven to be one of the most dangerous times of the year, we will be cracking down on dangerous drivers so that everyone can get home to their families for the holidays,” said Deputy Mayor Laura Anglin. 

The Transportation Department also plans to add speed cameras at 60 school zones per month in the coming year as a result of a state law that took effect last July to allow for up to 750 school zones to be monitoring for speeding.

The city installed 224 speed cameras across the five boroughs this year, bringing the number of automated enforcers up to 364.