The bike lane battleground is going slower after months of activism

Prospect Park West speed limit cut to 25-miles-per-hour

The Brooklyn Paper
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The city reduced the speed limit on Prospect Park West to 25-miles-per-hour last Friday as part of Mayor DeBlasio’s push to bring citywide traffic deaths down to zilch.

The surprise change came two days after the city started issuing tickets from speed cameras in school zones as part of the Sloper-in-chief’s road safety agenda. Slope activists, including the parents of a 12-year-old boy killed by a van on the road in October 2013, have been pushing for a 20 mile-per-hour cap on residential streets citywide, but said they will take what they got.

“Dropping it by five is definitely progress,” said Charles Komanoff, a founding member of the group Right of Way. “It shows the power of community organizing.”

A spokesman for the Department of Transportation said the speed limit was lowered as the result of an “evaluation of the corridor,” but did not elaborate on what the evaluation entailed, or why 25 was chosen.

The move comes three months after Samuel Cohen Eckstein was mowed down by a van, unleashing a wave of new activism aimed at slowing traffic on the road that first became a cultural battleground in 2010, when the city replaced a car lane with a two-way bike highway.

The boy’s parents, Amy Cohen and Gary Eckstein, testified before the Council in November to persuade it to pass a bill lowering speed limits. Pedestrians have a 19 out of 20 chance of survival if struck by a car going 20 miles per hour, compared to a 12 in 20 chance at 30, according to federal data Cohen pointed out at the hearing, but the law has since stalled.

Right of Way agitators grabbed headlines the following month when they lined the hot-button thoroughfare with fake 20-mile-per-hour-speed limit signs. They have since devised an online counter that will clock the number of traffic deaths in real time to keep the issue fresh in DeBlasio’s mind — and inbox.

Lowering a speed limit on one road is just a tiny step toward the promised end to reckless driving, the road warriors said.

“This is not going to have an immediate effect,” said Eric McClure, founder of the Park Slope Street Safety Partnership. “This is going to take something more prominent than speed limit signage.”

Komanoff said Right of Way will continue to pressure DeBlasio, and Slope politicians, to put the screws on lead-footed car pilots.

“There is obviously a very aroused and vocal community, and we need to multiply it a thousand-fold,” he said.

Reach reporter Megan Riesz at or by calling (718) 260-4505. Follow her on Twitter @meganriesz.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
As long as you have cyclists disobeying all traffic lights and signs and pedestrians constantly jaywalking, lowering speed limits won't work especially when they can get hit even at low speeds just for placing themselves into harm's way.
Jan. 17, 2014, 7:08 pm
sid from boerum hill says:
20 is plenty
Jan. 17, 2014, 10:30 pm
Eric McClure from Park Slope says:
Just to be clear, I think this is a great step. We just shouldn't expect to wake up tomorrow and see drivers obeying the new speed limit. It will take more prominent signage, perhaps some kind of gateway treatment signaling the lower speed limit, and dedicated enforcement by the NYPD.
Jan. 18, 2014, 12:18 am
John from Bay Ridge says:
Bratton has to made moving violations enforcement a priority for the NYPD. Kelly never did.
Jan. 18, 2014, 10:02 am
jay from nyc says:
I think this is interesting, I wonder if in a few years the argument will become 25 is too slow and it needs to be raised, kind of like the national highway speed limits that used to be as 75, then got dropped to 55 and then are getting raised again. I think the lesson from that was that in some places going faster is reasonably safe while in other areas the speed limit must be lower to stay safe. So maybe what we will do here is have some areas that are 20 and then maybe major street will be 30 or 35. If it gets dropped to 20 though there are some bicycles that will break that limit and I wonder how that would be handled. Having said all of that though, there are a lot of reckless drivers in this town that ignore the law and the NYPD really really really needs to do more traffic enforcement.
I wonder if the meter maids could be retrained or pulled of parking duty to do speed limit and red light enforcement. For me that would be a more helpful use of those folks rather than having them put yet another parking ticket on the fed ex truck or a diplomat who won't pay it anyway.
Jan. 18, 2014, 10:11 am
Jay from Bay Ridge says:
Brooklyn need trams. They are slow and help slow down traffic.
Jan. 18, 2014, 10:24 am
Steve Beltzer from Upper West Side says:
I am frequently in the area as a pedestrian and a cyclist and as a driver- excellent . Drivers have a tendency to speed there. The road boarders on the park too a dangerous combination. I wold be happy with 20 mph as well.
Jan. 18, 2014, 10:45 am
ty from pps says:
Unfortunately, Jay, the "traffic enforcement agents" aren't actually empowered to enforce any moving traffic laws...

The only ticket I know of that they can write (having any direct impact on roadway safety) is double-parking... and in my experience, they aren't very good at writing those tickets.
Jan. 18, 2014, 11:44 am
Fox from south slope says:
Setting a lower speed limit makes it easier to nail the mooks and homeys who ignore traffic signs and race through the neighborhood like it's a video game.
Jan. 18, 2014, 1:21 pm
Slopian from Slope says:
This is a great step. Should be 15 or 20 mph, but I'll take it for now. My kids and I appreciate a safer street.
Jan. 18, 2014, 1:55 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
I recommend everyone going over to the Daily News and reading what what someone said about lowering the speed limits. I like the fact that whoever mentioned it said that it was meaningless when the current one is barley enforced in which it would barely be enforced even if changed. Also, that person mentioned that it will cost taxpayers just to change them. That letter is a must read for everyone.
Jan. 18, 2014, 3:46 pm
jimutz from Cobble Hill says:
Why would you want to enforce barley?
Jan. 18, 2014, 5:42 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
The letter actually implies enforcing the current speed limit, but I take it that you didn't bother to read it, plus he thinks that it's a waste of taxpayer dollars alone to even change the signs.
Jan. 18, 2014, 5:57 pm
eric from red hook says:
People who drive, want 35 mph
People who don't have cars and walk, want a speed limit of 15 mph
Jan. 18, 2014, 6:06 pm
ty from pps says:
Tal -- I think it's a waste of taxpayer dollars to allow you to use the roads in New York City... but, that's just my opinion.

Again, Tal, wouldn't Pleasantville appreciate your "enthusiasm"? (Because Brooklyn could do without your input.)
Jan. 18, 2014, 6:08 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Here is the entire letter of what I am talking about for this who really didn't get let alone didn't even bother to click the link I already provided.

New limit, same problem

New Hyde Park, L.I.: Now we’re talking about lowering the speed limit on certain city streets from 30 mph down to 20 mph. This sounds like a good idea, but the question is who will enforce it, given that he present limit is rarely enforced? Oh, and how much will it cost taxpayers to change all the signs? Michael P. Castellano
Jan. 18, 2014, 7:10 pm
ty from pps says:
So, a comment about changes in New Hyde Park, NY is about as interesting as a comment about Pleasantville... No?
Jan. 18, 2014, 8:39 pm
Sally from Park slope says:
25 mph is a positive first step and should be replicated elsewhere. Enforcement should include speed cameras, which save lives and generate revenue. They are a win win!
Jan. 18, 2014, 9:21 pm
Sally from Park slope says:
25 mph is a great first step that needs to be replicated elsewhere with good signage and enforcement through speed cameras. They save lives and generate revenue - a win win
Jan. 18, 2014, 9:24 pm
bkmanhatman from nubruklyn says:
Go into a bitter temper tantrum Tal. Claim all you want of anarchist cyclist, but a human powered bicycle versus a motorized car or motorcycle is no match for their speed, power, and their ability to inflict trauma if not death. A bicycle does not have those abilities.
Jan. 18, 2014, 9:45 pm
Scott from Park Slope says:
25mph on PPW is higher than what the best speed is now; 21mph is nearly the perfect speed to hit all greens from GAP to Windsor Terrace. It's much slower than what traffic used to do on the street, but to drivers it feels faster because you don't have to stop.
Jan. 18, 2014, 10:31 pm
Scott from Park Slope says:
"20 is plenty" should be the speed limit throughout the city, except for expressways like the BQE. Else, drivers get confused, and a culture of trying to dodge or ignore slow zones develops. The NYPD ought to also enforce the speed limit using patrol cars and speed cameras, which income out to flow to funding physical traffic calming measures like speed humps, bulb-outs, etc. And when all that infrastructure is built, any speeding ticket revenue that remains can route to protected bike paths and improved service on the MTA.
Jan. 18, 2014, 10:36 pm
Peter from Brooklyn Heights says:
Ask yourself why drivers speed on streets like PPW? It's because the lack of intersections mean they don't fear collisions with other vehicles - in other words, something that might actually hurt -them-.

Pedestrians, cyclists...meh.
Jan. 19, 2014, 11:01 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
It's unfortunate that there are so many that believe that if the speed limits were reduced and every motorist followed them, all problems on dangerous streets will just magically go away. However, that isn't the case. In reality, as long as there are pedestrians and cyclists that don't play their role in safety as well, there will always be accidents. Having the right of way doesn't guarantee safety either nor is it always absolute. Keep in mind that Bill Bratton did mention recently that 73% of the accidents that occur to pedestrians are when they are NOT following the rules, and I wouldn't be surprised if the same thing happens to cyclists as well. Overall, everyone must play their part when it comes to safety, not just one group. Although it's true that cyclists and pedestrians can't hurt others when flouting the laws, they can still be placing themselves into harm's way. Meanwhile, cyclists flouting the laws may not be able to kill anyone, but they can still injure whoever they hit, and there have been stories about that on numerous message boards and blog sites about that. As for revenues from such moving violations, they aren't about safety either, just making money and nothing more, which is why so many cities in the US are demanding for the cameras to be removed in the claim that the accidents occurring either were the same or even worse than before, so playing big brother on motorists isn't that popular unless you happen to have an anti-car bias.
Jan. 19, 2014, 3:30 pm
Jay from Nyc says:
Of course motorists who are driving in a criminal manner dont like cameras to catch them, criminals are never in favor of things that will stop them from being ctiminals, but since when do we let criminals decide if and how we stop them? This is not a popularity contest. Tal you dont live here although you maybe come here and break our laws and maybe that is why you have a pro~criminal bias.
Jan. 20, 2014, 9:24 am
Other Michael from Park Slope says:
This is good.

This has nothing to do with the bike lane.

How about doing this on 8th Ave too?

Red light cameras on Union St??
Jan. 20, 2014, 10:55 am
Parent from Brooklyn says:
20 mph should be the speed limit all over the city.
Jan. 20, 2014, 1:55 pm
Tat from Ps says:
I think 25 is fine. However, pedestrians need to be educated on street safety as well. Pedestrians jump into the street with their kids not paying attention talking on their cell phone. Then when the car beeps the horn at them they get startled and run. This is how you teach your kids to cross the street and then wonder why there are so many accidents. With a simple paying attention and putting your phone down whole crossing the streets can prevent unwanted accidents as well. I think education and enforcement needs to be all around not just the cars. We need to get away from this attitude that the belongs to me and I do whatever I want. The streets belong to all of us and we all need to use caution.
Jan. 20, 2014, 1:56 pm
jay from nyc says:
Well Tat and Tal you are gonna get your way, De Blasio has announced that NYPD is going to crackdown on jaywalkers.
Jan. 20, 2014, 6:10 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
For the record, I don't break that many rules when driving. If anything, it might just be going slightly over posted speed limits, but that's about it. I don't run red lights or stop signs let alone make any attempts trying to mow down pedestrians or cyclists. I really should have everyone who makes such accusations be taken for slander on that. The truth is that you can have motorists follow every letter of the law tomorrow and there will still be accidents as long as pedestrians and cyclists continue to flout the laws they are supposed to follow hence placing themselves into harm's way. As long as those that don't drive continue to believe that the rules don't apply to them, there will never be any safe streets. Just today when going to that Knicks-Nets game, I told my little brother not to jaywalk because he could have been hit, but he refused and was lucky not to get hit at all in which he was putting himself into harm's way. As for jaywalking itself, I am glad that there is being a crackdown on that, and I know those at websites over on Streetsblog will be crying foul over that just like the ticket blitz for cyclists that are flouting the laws, which should be continued in the near future.
Jan. 20, 2014, 7:51 pm
VLM from Park Slope says:
"For the record," Tal, no one gives a flying you-know-what about your quest to turn every article into something about you. Stick with Pleasantville. We're fine without you.
Jan. 21, 2014, 9:39 am
Jones from PS says:
Nice to see a decision being made completely on emotion with no studies or independent investigation of whats best at all.
Jan. 21, 2014, 1:55 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
I could try to break it down to a way that even George W Bush and Sarah Palin could understand it, but knowing some of you guys, it's like trying to get the Muslim Brotherhood to accept Israel as a homeland for the Jews, and we all know how they are on that if you know what I mean.
Jan. 21, 2014, 3:56 pm
ty from pps says:
I'll repeat again... Tal, wouldn't Pleasantville appreciate your "enthusiasm"? (Because Brooklyn could do without your input.)
Jan. 21, 2014, 4:52 pm
ty from pps says:
Also, I'm not fan of GW Bush... but, Tal, if you're suggesting you are smarter than him, well... oh man.
Jan. 21, 2014, 4:53 pm
Ted from PPW says:
This is great, any little bit helps. Crazy at how many of you —— about this.

I live on PPW and cross it every day. This was needed.
Jan. 21, 2014, 6:47 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
For the record, I am all for safe street, but this is pitched out the wrong way. First of all, know what really happened to Sammy before making such accusations. Keep in mind that his parents were NOT watching him when he was trying to get his ball. By no surprise, anti-car groups use this accident, which wasn't negligible by any means, to promote their own cause. In reality, I highly doubt that groups such as Transportation Alternatives even cared, and Paul Steely White did this for just another PR stunt to milk off of. Overall, I take it that most of you who support lowering the speed limits are fine with careless parents because there is always a scapegoat for that and that is motorists. On a side note, would you be calling for more safety measures on bicycles if he was hit by that instead, which can actually injure someone coming at high speeds, or would you just turn a blind eye to that and try to shove it under the rug?
Jan. 21, 2014, 8:31 pm
ty from pps says:
Tal.... stop taking your mom's pills. You were told many times not to go in their bathroom.
Jan. 21, 2014, 9:47 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Ty, speaking of pills, you need to take the bottle that is labeled chill pills, because you really need them.
Jan. 22, 2014, 6:43 pm
New York Resident from NYC says:
This guy Tal and his rant against bikes is an odd one indeed.

As a driver, cyclist, pedestrian and straphanger I only hope to see an increase in bicycling.


I'm not worried about getting hit by a bike. The chances are minimal as long as you pay attention and the potential for serious injury is minimal at best.

As for automobiles...even a low speed collision can seriously injure (broken bones or worse). I am also significantly more likely to be hit by a car, even while on the crosswalk with the light on my side.

By reducing the speed limit on our city streets, we can hopefully fight for more camera enforcement and slow people down. Many drivers drive much more quickly than they should on streets full of potential surprises.

And living in NYC. I refuse to live along a limited access roadway. If that were the case I would move to Atlanta or LA.
Feb. 3, 2014, 11:33 pm

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