Slow ‘em down! Boerum Hill seeks big cut in speed limit

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Boerum Hill residents are pushing the city to slam the brakes on reckless drivers by cutting the speed limit to 20 miles per hour in their exclusive brownstone enclave.

The Department of Transportation is considering including the neighborhood in a preliminary traffic-calming program in hopes of deterring cars and trucks from using the area as a short cut to and from the East River bridges.

“We need to encourage people to go slower,” said Howard Kolins, president of the Boerum Hill Association, which along with Councilman Steve Levin (D–Brooklyn Heights), formed a traffic task force to help the issue gain traction.

The zone — which would shave 10 mph from the city standard — would cover a large area bounded by Court Street, Fourth Avenue, Pacific Street and Baltic Street, according to Levin spokeswoman Hope Reichbach, who grew up in Boerum Hill, and said the area has become a victim of its own success.

“Traffic has definitely gotten worse,” she observed.

And along with the number of cars, residents have also multiplied — another reason locals support the go-slow zone.

“It’s a good idea,” said resident Beth Marchese. “I have a baby, and it’s like no one ever stops. There are so many kids here, it’s Baby Central.”

Kolins suggested the Boerum Hill plan could emulate England’s “20 is Plenty” program, which includes better signage and physical barriers to make speeding more difficult. The program, started in 2001, is credited with reducing traffic fatalities across the country.

The prospect of a speeding ticket, which can range in price between $45 to $300, is already an incentive to slow down, yet speeding along Atlantic and Fourth avenues has spread, turning intersections such as Dean Street and Boerum Place into danger zones, locals said.

“The people who speed don’t live here,” said Sarah Wikenczy, the civic association’s traffic czar. “It’s not their kids they will run over, so they don’t care. They are just trying to get from Point A to Point B.”

Transportation officials did not provide comment or traffic data in time for our Autobahn-quick online deadline.

The city is planning to test a 20 mph pilot program on some Bronx streets, after a city safety study found that pedestrians made up more than half of all traffic deaths from 2005 to 2009.

“Even 10 miles per hour too fast can mean the difference between life and death,” Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan said in December.

For now, 20 mph zones are limited to areas near schools and hospitals.

But if the Bronx data is promising, some 75 new zones citywide could be created, officials said.

For residents, that’s promising news.

“They should change it, Angelina Olmo said as she surveyed the scene at Warren and Smith streets. “There is so much traffic here, especially on the weekends, people are all over the place.”

Updated 5:23 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

John Quadrozzi, Jr. from Cobble Hill says:
I agree, 20 mph is more than ample for neighborhood streets. For those of us that live here, we drive responsibly/slowly anyway. For those of you who don't live here, we need to slow you down.

We also need to consider replacing local street traffic lights with stop signs - as traffic lights cause most vehicles to speed up and stop causes all of them to slow down and stop.

Let's do 20 mph in Boeum Hills neighbor community Cobble Hill as well.
Feb. 8, 2011, 1:37 am
Resident from PPW says:
I am trying to understand. On this avenue, the city is going to try and include the neighborhood in various traffic calming programs and slow the traffic down by using signs and other methods. (Initiatives which are great). But, on PPW the only way to slow down the traffic (which also was an excellent idea) is to build bicycle lanes? There seems to be a disconnect for me.
Feb. 8, 2011, 5:25 am
Mike says:
Simple. On PPW the point wasn't the bike lanes. The point was taking a lane of traffic away: that street simply had too many lanes relative to the traffic using it. Boerum Hill doesn't have streets in that situation.
Feb. 8, 2011, 8:45 am
Steve from PPW says:
Yeah, you can't remove traffic lanes on most Boerum Hill Streets since many of them only have one moving lane between parked cars. You'd have to remove parking to do it. Easier to change the speed limit and make other improvements so that cars slow down. This is a great idea.

The bike lane on PPW was ancillary to the initial project - remove a traffic lane. The added the bike lane with the extra space. There's no extra space in BH.
Feb. 8, 2011, 9:36 am
ch from bh says:
PPW was a five-lane one-way street -- that's as wide as most highways!

Boerum Hill doesn't have any one-way streets that wide. Atlantic Avenue is six-lanes, but it's two way -- and it's a truck route. Fourth Avenue is (eight lanes?) but also two-way and also a truck route.

Regardless, the speeders and traffic coming through the 'hood are ridiculous.

They should stop letting cars and trucks get to use the Brooklyn & Manhattan bridges for free. Subways aren't free across the East River. The Brooklyn Battery Tunnel isn't free. Why these two bridges?
Feb. 8, 2011, 9:39 am
cars gotta go from bike nation says:
Let's stop messing around and just ban cars from NYC already. Problem solved.
Feb. 8, 2011, 10:14 am
Joey from Clinton Hills says:
Is this for all of BoCoCa or just Boerum Hill?
Feb. 8, 2011, 2:28 pm
Steve from PPW says:
This is a great idea. The speed limit is now 30 and people routinely do 40 or more. Make the speed limit 20 and at least people will slow down to 30.
Feb. 8, 2011, 2:37 pm
Vic from Carroll Gardens says:
Boerum Hill is in a very unique location. With it being in between two very popular areas, Park Slope and Cobble Hill, and only having a limited amount of streets that go Westbound traffic is probably a lot more than Boerum Hill residents would want. Many people have no interest in going to 3rd St. to head West. Slowing down the speed is always helpful but what about changing a street around. Could be difficult but just an option.
Feb. 8, 2011, 2:48 pm
tom from sunset park says:
Will we get Right-Turn-On Red with this?

I thought I'd ask.
Feb. 8, 2011, 3:53 pm
Scott from Park Slope says:
RE: Cars gotta go from bike nation. That's an awesome idea, except that there are use-cases not covered by bicycles or other forms of transportation currently available. Got babies? Sorry, they don't carry themselves much less the stuff they need. You're SOL. Ah, you say, why don't we take them on public transportation? Answer: no elevators standard in subways. Wrestling strollers, folded up or not, onto buses creates unwieldy boarding and exiting times for the bus. Slow down? Yes, totally on board with that. De-emphasize car travel? Yes, definitely. But until they install elevators on all subway stops or run enough buses so people with cargo can move without gumming up the system, there will still be a need for cars.
Feb. 8, 2011, 4:16 pm
Ike Rock from Park Slope says:
This sounds great, but I doubt it will be enforced. NYPD seems to only want to enforce traffic laws as they pertain to bikers. That's fine with me if it's being done for public safety, but speeding cars are a far greater threat in densely populated neighborhoods.
Feb. 8, 2011, 5:14 pm
Greg from Greenpoint says:
Since when do the police ever give speeding tickets on sidestreets? The limit could be 5 mph but if you're not going to enforce it what's the point?
Feb. 10, 2011, 12:49 pm
Mike from GP says:

Right-turn-on-red would be a disaster for pedestrians in this city.
Feb. 12, 2011, 1:11 pm

Comments closed.

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