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Three Bronx nabes to enter slow zone

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Drivers in Westchester Square, Parkchester and Norwood will soon be required to slow their roll.

Designated “Slow Zones” will be installed in those three Bronx nabes over the next three years, announced Mayor Bloomberg and City Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan on Thursday, October 10.

The speed limit on the designated roads will be reduced from 30 miles-per-hour to 20 miles-per-hour, and the streets will be outfitted with speed humps and large blue signs instructing motorists to slow down.

The new Bronx Slow Zones are part of 15 areas citywide that were chosen out of a field of 75 applicants, according to city officials. The latest three Bronx Slow Zones join existing Bronx reduced-speed areas in Claremont, Mt. Eden, Baychester, Eastchester and Riverdale.

The Slow Zone program was launched in 2011 and aims to make residential streets safer. Though fewer deaths were recorded in the last six years than in any six years after the City began collecting data, 81 people were killed by traffic last year, Sadik-Khan said.

The 10 mile-per-hour speed change has huge ramifications on whether accident victims survive, according to the DOT. Their research shows that while a pedestrian has a 70 percent chance of death when hit by a car going 40 miles per hour, survival rate jumps to 95 percent when the car is traveling 25 miles per hour.

“Speeding is the single greatest contributing factor in traffic fatalities in our City,” Mayor Bloomberg said. “Slow Zones have shown proven results in curbing dangerous driving and we want more neighborhoods to benefit from the program.”

The new Bronx Slow Zone recipients are thrilled that the City chose them as locations where motorists will need to put on the brakes.

“This administration has displayed a firm commitment to lowering the incidence of traffic fatalities and enhancing the quality-of-life in neighborhoods all around the city,” wrote Councilwoman Annabel Palma in an email. “I am thrilled that Parkchester residents will now realize its benefits. “

Councilman Jimmy Vacca, who represents one of the incoming Speed Zone sites in Westchester Avenue, said he’s happy that the reduced-speed zones are headed his way. But he worries that the installation will take too long.

The Westchester Square Slow Zone, as well as the Parkchester Slow Zone, is slated for 2016, while Norwood is set to receive its Slow Zone next year.

“The Department of Transportation cannot fall asleep behind the wheel on installing these important Slow Zones,” Vacca wrote in an email. “We cannot risk future accidents and injuries and the timetable to install these Slow Zones must be expedited.”

The communities not chosen to get the next line of Slow Zones are left wondering: where’s ours?

“We would have liked to be included in that,” said Ivine Galarza, district manager of Community Board 6, where she said a car recently struck a pedestrian at Southern Boulevard and E. 181th street. “It’s a horror story over here.”

Ben Kochman can be reach via e-mail at BKochman@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3394
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