(New York, NY - WNYC) - Manhattan, where the standard rate of movement is an all-out manic sprint, is about to be told by the NY Department of Transportation to slow down. At least in part: a couple of dozen blocks at the island's northern tip in the neighborhood of Inwood are on track to become the borough's first traffic Slow Zone.
NYC DOT unveiled Slow Zones last year. The program calms traffic by lowering a neighborhood's speed limit to 20 miles per hour--the lowest in the city--and fitting it out with safety measures such as speed bumps, signs and street markings that either force or urge drivers to slow down. The city would also remove more than 20 parking spots in the neighborhood to open up sight lines at intersections.
Inwood's community board passed a resolution in February that unanimously supported the Slow Zone, which would cover the blocks west of Broadway from West 218th down to Riverside Drive near Dyckman Street. A vote by the full board will be held on June 26. Should the Slow Zone be approved, as expected, the NYC DOT is set to install it this summer.
Inwood is frequently used as a short-cut by northbound drivers who cut through it, especially during the evening rush hour, to avoid paying the toll on the Henry Hudson Bridge, which spans Manhattan and the Bronx. Drivers have also learned to avoid the traffic lights on Broadway by traveling on Seaman Avenue, a parallel street that is heavily residential.
In general, Inwood's streets are hilly, narrow and almost wholly disconnected from the street grid. For those reasons, the NYC DOT not only approved the neighborhood's Slow Zone application but doubled the size of the proposed area.
Resident Dave Thom, for one, is pleased. "Our neighborhood is packed with schools, churches and young children," he said. "I have a two year-old and three year-old myself and it can be nerve-wracking to see a car racing down our streets."
The city's first and only Slow Zone was installed in the Claremont section of the Bronx last year. NYC DOT is considering adding another 13 Slow Zones, including the one in Inwood, by the end of 2013.
(New York, NY - Jim O'Grady, WNYC) New York City is warning drivers that speeding could mean death.
Drivers who exceed the speed limit in two city neighborhoods will soon see the words "SLOW DOWN" and the image of a skeleton flashed on electronic signs by the side of the road. As long as a driver obeys the city's 30 mph speed limit, no skeleton will appear.
The signs have been placed along stretches of Bruckner Boulevard in the Bronx and Richmond Avenue in Staten Island – roads that, respectively, were shown by a DOT study to have 96 percent and 66 percent of motorists speeding.
"We're playing with people's lives," Bloomberg said of speeding vehicles. He then cited global statistics on traffic fatalities: "About 148 people die in road traffic deaths every single hour. I think it's 1.3 million people a year. This is going to be the fifth largest killer in the world in another few years."
City Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan joined Bloomberg at the press conference, which took place at the intersection of Broadway and Fifth Avenue in Manhattan — a spot that had once been a traffic lane but is now a protected pedestrian island.
She said the department will test a new slow-speed driving zone in the Claremont section of the Bronx, which has a high concentration of schools and vehicle crashes per square mile. The largely residential neighborhood will get a 20 mile per hour speed limit this summer — the lowest in the city.
Sadik-Khan said driving only 10 miles per hour above the city's 30 miles per hour speed limit can mean the difference between life and death: "If a pedestrian is hit by a car going 40 miles per hour, there's a 70 percent chance that pedestrian is going to die," she said. "If a pedestrian is hit by a car at 30 miles per hour, there's an 80 percent chance that pedestrian will live."
Bloomberg said if the slow-speed zone and the skeleton signs prove effective, more will be set up in other neighborhoods in the city.