Motorists cruising through the borough’s widest street are set to get a serious slowdown.
The speed limit on 5.2 miles of the Grand Concourse will soon be reduced from 30 mph to 25 mph as part of a citywide push to slow down motorists and put the brakes on traffic injuries and deaths.
The city Department of Transportation (DOT) plans to install bright new blue and white “20 mph” speed limit signs on the strip between E. 140th Street and Mosholu Parkway –where 12 people were killed in traffic from 2008 to 2012– by early May.
DOT also says it will change the traffic light timing in order to encourage motorists to coast at the new speed limit.
The Grand Concourse is the second strip to be named part of DOT’s “arterial slow zone” program, which targets large and busy so-called “arterial” streets. Over 60 percent of collisions happen on arterials even though they only make up 15 percent of city roads, according to the city’s statistics.
Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn was the first wide street to see a reduced speed limit.
Police will be monitoring the Grand Concourse closely in the coming weeks to ensure that motorists catch on to the changes, NYPD Chief of Transportation Thomas Chan said at an April 17 press conference announcing the changes.
Chan said that cops at the local precinct had given out 20,000 informational flyers to both pedestrians and motorists on the Concourse over the last month. For now, police will need to rely on officers to enforce the new speed limit, since there are no speed cameras on the strip.
Just the beginning
Street safety activists at the conference praised the city for taking another step in the direction of Mayor de Blasio’s “Vision Zero,” the idea of ridding New York of all traffic fatalities.
But the city can make the strip even safer by adding a protected bike lane and adding more pedestrian safety islands, said Jill Guidera, Bronx field organizer of Transportation Alternatives.
“Reducing the speed limit on the Grand concourse will save lives, and is a good start,” said Guidera. “But it’s just the beginning.”
DOT officials said at the press conference that the agency would consider larger changes to the Grand Concourse down the road. In the meantime, other wide Bronx thoroughfares could be receiving a similar slowdown soon.
“We’ll be looking at a lot of these large corridors in the next couple of weeks,” said DOT Bronx Commissioner Constance Moran. “Everything’s still being cooked.