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

Slower Slope speed limit would make Greenwood Heights a race track, locals say
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

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.