Atlantic Avenue: First Major NYC Road to Get Lower Speed Limits

Wednesday, April 09, 2014 - 02:42 PM

A sample of the new speed limits signs being installed on Atlantic Avenue (Kate Hinds/WNYC)

A major thoroughfare in Brooklyn and Queens is getting the Vision Zero treatment.

New York City officials announced Wednesday that a 7.6 mile stretch of Atlantic Avenue, from the Brooklyn waterfront to 76th Street in Queens, will be the first of 25 planned "arterial slow zones." To discourage speeding along these multi-lane, wide roadways, traffic lights will be re-timed, the speed limit will be lowered from 30 to 25 miles per hour, and police will step up enforcement of moving violations.

"Citywide, arterials like Atlantic Avenue make up 15 percent of city streets, but they account for 60 percent of pedestrian fatalities," said Polly Trottenberg, the city's transportation commissioner. "Crashes on these roads tend to be more deadly."

She said 25 people were killed along Atlantic Avenue between 2008 and 2012. But it's not alone.

"Queens Boulevard...Northern Boulevard, Bedford Avenue," said Amy Cohen, a member of Families for Safe Streets and the mother of a traffic crash victim. These are "roads designed like highways that encourage excessive speeding. It is imperative that these streets be redesigned." 

So far this year, 58 people have died in traffic crashes on New York City streets.

Lowering the speed limit citywide is a key component of Mayor Bill de Blasio's Vision Zero plan for traffic safety. Another: more control over photo traffic enforcement like speed cameras. But in both cases, Albany is holding the reins. Currently, the city is limited to deploying 20 speed cameras near school zones. (And due to the city's procurement rules, only five cameras are in place — although Trottenberg said the next 15 should be up and running this spring.)

Those five cameras, according to DOT spokesman Scott Gastel, have issued 14,500 tickets since they went live in January.

"We have a powerful map that shows the current restrictions on where and when we can deploy speed cameras," said Trottenberg. "A lot of areas that are high-crash areas, we can't use those cameras right now. So that's a bigger issue we're going to need to tackle in Albany."

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said he was delighted with the new speed limit restrictions on Atlantic, which he said sends an important message to drivers.

"We can have a smooth traffic flow of vehicles," he said, "without having a reckless and senseless traffic flow of blood."

The changes on Atlantic Avenue will be completed this month.




Comments [9]

Jim from NYC

30 MPH is the bare minimum to be able to get anywhere in a reasonable amount of time. 25 is completely insane, and will only serve to create widespread misery. I see now why people despise 'progressives' like de Blasio. Totally detached from reality, crushing people who drive for a living for no reason.

Jun. 19 2014 12:07 AM
William F. from Park Slope, Brooklyn

A hit to the wallet is the only way these reckless drivers will show some consideration for others.......


Cameras would help.....I hope the city places a ton along Atlantic and everywhere else in the future!!!

Apr. 10 2014 05:32 PM
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY

JD, this is all about either trying to make a revenue or just some groups or individuals trying to have a legacy whereas safety is only secondary to all of this.

Apr. 10 2014 03:33 PM
editor from UWS

It all comes down to enforcement. If drivers have no fear of getting pulled over or held accountable if an accident occurs then behavior doesn't change.

Apr. 10 2014 09:40 AM

This could not come soon enough, in living on Atlantic for the past 4 years, I have personally witnessed 5 accidents (or the aftermath)including a dead body on the road. Drivers treat the avenue like its a freeway and then come to a screeching halt when caught by the light and sometimes they can't stop. Can we add cameras so there is actually enforcement. This is crucial and would make the city a crap ton of money.

Apr. 10 2014 09:09 AM
JD from Bay Ridge

If the current 30 mph speed limit were to be enforced as well as walking while texting, J-walking, bicyclists obeying traffic laws... We'd see a huge improvement. Spending $$ on cameras and new signs is foolish and unnecessary. It appears to be a political move.

Apr. 10 2014 08:17 AM
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY

Honestly, I don't see how lowering the speed limits can help when the current ones aren't even being enforced. If that all stays the same, then nothing will ever change and many can always get away with it, because they know it's not being enforced. Let's not forget that it costs money to even change the signs, so this wasn't something done for free. However, I still see this as punishing the many for the actions of only a few. Honestly, even if all motorists did obey the speed limit tomorrow, you will still have pedestrians and cyclists that will continue to place themselves into harm's way by flouting the laws they are supposed to follow.

Apr. 09 2014 10:50 PM
AS from Boerum Hill

This is such good news. I hope the NYPD can enforce it.

Apr. 09 2014 07:15 PM
Bronx from NYC

Cameras are a critical component in enforcing this speed limit. Traffic light synchronization is great, but drivers tend to accelerate and brake quickly between lights.

Apr. 09 2014 04:08 PM

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