Next time you’re driving between Southern Boulevard and the Sheridan Expressway, north of East 167th Street and south of East 174th Street, remember to slow down.
That area is now New York City’s first “Neighborhood Slow Zone.” The maximum speed limit in the tract has been reduced to 20 miles per hour, as opposed to the 30 mph limit that exists on most city streets.
Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., City Council transportation committee chair Jimmy Vacca and Department of Transportation commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan unveiled the “Claremont Neighborhood Slow Zone” at a press conference at the intersection of East 167th Street, Vyse Avenue and West Farms Road on Monday, November 21.
The goal of the speed decrease is to make the streets safer for pedestrians.
A DOT statement said the area was selected to be the city’s first because of “high frequency of serious traffic crashes” and “definable boundaries.”
Diaz represented the area during his stint as an assemblyman, and said the speed limit reduction was overdue.
“For far too long this has been a zone where children and seniors have been hit by cars,” he said. “This shows that something different is happening here.”
Diaz also said that the Claremont zone will serve as a template for other such areas that will help protect pedestrians throughout the city.
“This is not something that’s going to stop at Claremont,” he said. “This is a public safety issue that unfortunately gets swept under the rug.”
The quarter-square-mile zone features a total of 14 speed bumps, 28 signs marking the 20 mile per hour speed limit, as well as “20 MPH” stenciled in eight-foot letters in the street at 46 locations.
But the effort to slow down drivers may need more than just signs.
“The police department has a role to play here too,” Vacca said. “We’re counting on significant enforcement so everyone knows they have to slow down.”
Victor Gonzalez, who lives within the zone, said the spirit behind the speed limit reduction made sense, but was skeptical about whether drivers would obey it.
“Twenty miles per hour is O.K., but to me it’s not feasible,” he said. “Because people do go faster.”
Sadik-Khan said that getting drivers to slow down would depend on both a public information campaign and the police.
“It’s about getting the message out that this is a special neighborhood,” she said.
Community boards can submit applications to the city DOT for slow zone consideration. The application can be found online at nyc.gov/dot.
Bill Weisbrod can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at (718) 742-3394.