NYC Builds First "Slow Zone" to Fight Speeding

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Distinctive blue signs have been installed at 14 locations to mark the entrance of the city's first Slow Zone. (Photo: NYC DOT)

New York City unveiled a new tactic to combat speeding on local streets Monday: the Slow Zone. The city has long been pushing an awareness campaign with billboards and even lighted skeleton signs to scare speeders into easing up on the gas pedal. The Claremont section of the Bronx became the first neighborhood in the city to get a new streetscape designed to slow drivers down.

NYC DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan said, "one in four traffic fatalities involved unsafe speed. A pedestrian struck by a car going 40 m.p.h. has a 70 percent chance of dying while a pedestrian stuck by a car going 20 m.p.h. has a 95 percent chance of surviving. Making neighborhoods safer can be as simple as reducing the speed on our residential streets.” As Streetsblog points, similar slow zones in London have proven effective at lowering accidents.

(NYC DOT Rendering)

The roughly 30-square-block residential neighborhood in an often overlooked section of the Bronx has fresh lane markers to make streets feel narrower to cars while making room for cyclists. The new 20 m.p.h. speed limit is painted across the width of streets at the entrance to the Zone and reinforced on highly visible stanchions (pictured above). According to a map of the zone released by the DOT, nine new speed bumps have been installed as well, making speed reductions somewhat of a requirement for cars passing through.

The DOT announcement says:

"Claremont was selected for its relatively high frequency of serious traffic crashes and for the area’s definable boundaries that could be easily marked for a zone. Between 2005 and 2009 there was one fatality in the largely residential area, which also houses six schools... Slow Zones are also expected to reduce cut-through traffic and traffic noise in residential neighborhoods."

The Slow Zone's were announced last year  as part of a broader plan to tackle speeding, including the installation of 1,500 speed bumps around the five boroughs.

The DOT has established a system for communities to nominate themselves as future Slow Zones as well.