Boerum Hill 'slow zone'

Speed limit to be reduced in Boerum Hill

The Brooklyn Paper
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Drivers whizzing through Boerum Hill better ease off the gas now that the quiet brownstone enclave is getting Brooklyn’s first speed limit-reducing “slow zone.”

The Department of Transportation signed off on a traffic-calming measure last week that will reduce the speed limit from 30 to 20 miles per hour in the largely residential area bounded by Smith Street, and Union, Third, and Atlantic avenues.

The slow zone approval — which comes two months before the Barclays Center arena opens nearby — is meant to deter drivers from using the neighborhood as a short cut to and from the East River bridges.

The plan pleases neighbors who tout the motto “twenty is plenty,” saying lower speed limits save lives.

“It’s an important safety issue — there’s been a significant amount of cut-through traffic here,” said Howard Kolins, president of the Boerum Hill Association, which formed a traffic task force to help the get the movement rolling.

The zone will be marked with hard-to-miss blue signs “at all streets entering the area,” and the city will paint the new speed limit across the roadway and use speed bumps to encourage motorists to lay off the gas, according to the city.

Neighbors put forward the proposal last year with the help of Councilman Steve Levin (D–Boerum Hill), saying drivers zoom down Atlantic and Fourth avenues and make the intersections of Dean Street and Boerum Place dangerous.

The planned slow zone likely won’t include the busier border streets including Atlantic Avenue — where Levin found that 88 percent of drivers exceed the speed limit by about 10 miles per hour — because the city aims to “avoid wide, major streets, industrial and major commercial areas within the zone,” according to the Department of Transportation website.

But neighbors hope it will keep commuters and stadium traffic from flying down their brownstone blocks.

Sue Wolf, of the Boerum Hill Association, said the group plans to work with police to ensure drivers follow the rules.

“We plan to push for enforcement, especially with the arena coming,” she said.

Some neighbors hope the city extends the zone’s boundary to include State Street, she said.

Boerum Hill suffers an average of 28 car-related crash injuries per year, which is part of the reason the city approved the plan, according to a report provided the Department of Transportation. It also has “strong boundaries” and many schools and daycare centers, the report notes.

The program has been successful in other parts of town, such as the Clermont section of the Bronx, where speeding dropped dramatically after the bumps and signs went in, according the transportation officials.

The agency will now meet with neighbors to determine the location of speed bumps and other logistics before the slow zone is installed next year.

“It’s a great idea,” Wolf said.

Reach reporter Natalie O'Neill at or by calling her at (718) 260-4505.
Updated 5:34 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Sera from Slope says:
Great news!! Hope it spreads to all of the city.
July 17, 2012, 7:07 am
Peter from Park Slope says:
Won't mean a thing - the North Brooklyn precincts don't seem to care about enforcing traffic laws.
July 17, 2012, 8:36 am
BoerumHillsider from Boerum Hill says:
Speeds were much, much slower before the city installed the traffic lights, replacing the stop signs.

IMHO, the stop signs slowed drivers down -- even though a lot of people didn't stop. Now, people race above 40MPH to catch the green lights.
July 17, 2012, 8:49 am
Adamben from Bedstuy says:
Speed bumps work pretty well since, iin bedstuy, people blow the lights as well as the stop signs.
July 17, 2012, 10:38 am
Mark from Boerum Hill says:
Just install the speed bumps and automated speed cameras at the intersections.
July 17, 2012, 11:10 am
JAY from pslope says:
put in cameras and give the law breaking cars tickets, get revenue, use it to buy more enforcement cameras, repeats.
stop with the sign nonsense and hoping that the police will actually deal with traffic safety, it aint happen
July 17, 2012, 4:31 pm
SwampYankee from ruined Brooklyn says:
Don't know if this will make much difference. During rush hours these street are pretty locked up anyway. If they are not going to limit Atlantic whats the point. Atlantic is a big, wide street and between the speeding cars and cyclist running all the lights you take you life in your hands when you cross. If they want to help put speed bumps on Atlantic. That will keep everyone honest.
July 17, 2012, 5:57 pm
jay from pslope says:
oh but swamp they then won't be "real" brooklyn speed bumps
July 17, 2012, 10 pm
sid from boerum hill says:
speed cameras are stalled in the NY State Senate. not allowed in NY at all. The cameras you see`are limited to 50-100 for redlights only.

btw this-the speed limit of 20- has only been tried in one neighborhood so far.
July 17, 2012, 10:06 pm
mike from GP says:
Really looking forward to this. Wish it was coming to my neighborhood. Speeding and reckless driving are rampant here, at all times of the day.
July 18, 2012, 7:04 am
SwampYankee from ruined Brooklyn says:
so it's a no on speedbumps? Why not?? Everybody talks about slowing traffic down but when a real solution is offer it's no go because it would also effect cyclists. I'm a pedestrian 98% of the time so speedbumps seem the best solution to me. So the hipster solution is slow cars down but don't do anything to slow down a cyclist?
July 18, 2012, 8:05 am
Or from Yellow Hook says:
Cyclists are sent from Mother Gaia, they can do no wrong.
July 18, 2012, 8:36 am
S from PPW says:
There are plenty of speed humps on bike routes, including on Dean St. They are not an issue for cyclists.
July 18, 2012, 9:47 am
ty from pps says:
Why are speed bumps an issue for cyclists? Swampy, for all of your whining... do you even know what a bicycle is?
July 18, 2012, 10:03 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Sorry, but I find slow zones to do more harm than good. All they will do is cause more traffic. Then again, Bloomberg is probably looking for another way to promote congestion pricing and what better way to do so than by creating the very congestion itself. In reality, all of these traffic calming ideas just place traffic on streets that never had to worry about them in the first place but now do thanks to this. BTW, there was even a recent letter in the Daily News saying how much of a bad idea they really are, and Michael P. Castellano was very right on that.
July 18, 2012, 11:16 am
Shirl from Slope says:
Best fake Tal Barzilai yet!!!!
July 18, 2012, 12:38 pm
JAY from PSLOPE says:
swamp, just poking at you for your rant about "real" Brooklyn, people from Ohio, and t-shirts et al on another story.
Speed bumps are fine with me, they work to an extent for some problems, and are cheap relatively speaking. They won't however do anything about people running red lights, making turns that are not legally allowed, driving in a bike lane, or other nonsense that drivers do.
I don't think speed bumps are an issue for bicycles, but in some places, bikes need to slow down too.
Having said that, I freely admit I have no idea on what possible impact they might have on possibly re-directing traffic into other nbhoods and causing problems else where.
For me, I still like traffic cams the best, as they can be set up to provide evidence of many different kinds laws being broken, and are really hard to dispute and can be used to fine people etc.
I know alot of people don't like them for this exact reason, but then again since when have people who break the law ever liked being told they will be held accountable?
July 18, 2012, 12:42 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Shirl, that actually was from me, and I am start to think that you are the one impersonating me after reading that comment, so that makes you another suspect.
July 18, 2012, 4:30 pm
ty from pps says:
I think i'm going to sue Tal Barzilai for not being as smart as his impersonators.
July 18, 2012, 5:54 pm
Scott from Park Slope says:
This is a great idea. How can our neighborhood sign up?
July 21, 2012, 2:10 pm
Marc from Windsor Terrace says:
I wish DOT would consider lowering the speed limit on all narrow one-way and two-way side streets throughout the city to 25 MPH. The narrow widths leave little margin for error. For example , it makes no sense that the Ocean Parkway service road has the same speed limit as Ocean Parkway. If 25 is a good idea for Van Brunt Street in Red Hook, why not Columbia Street or Union Street.
July 21, 2012, 7:35 pm

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