Traffic speed reduction to save lives

Jerome Avenue motorists are getting adjusted to a new speed limit on the west Bronx’s main strip.
Photo by Walter Pofeldt

Two more busy Bronx avenues are getting the city slowdown treatment.

And a new bill sponsored by a borough pol and signed into law by Gov. Cuomo over the weekend could mean lower speed limits for even more strips around the borough.

The city Department of Transportation lowered the speed limit on five miles of Jerome Avenue, between 161st Street and Bainbridge Avenue, to 25 mph from 30 mph, on Friday, August 1, as part of a citywide program aimed at reducing pedestrian fatalities.

A stretch of Third Avenue between E. 138th and E. 183th streets will also see a speed limit drop to 25 mph, in November, said DOT officials.

Those thoroughfares now join much of the Grand Concourse and E. Gun Hill Road in being a city ‘arterial slow zone.” DOT cites statistics that wide so-called ‘arterials’ account for over 60 percent of pedestrian deaths, though they only make up 15 percent of the city’s mileage.

And the ‘slow zones’ aren’t the only speed-lowering measure in the pipeline.

On Saturday, August 9, the governor approved a law sponsored by Senator Jeff Klein that gives New York City the power to reduce the speed limit on any street to 25 mph.

Street safety activists praised the slowdowns as yet another step toward the goal of reducing traffic-related deaths entirely, called “Vision Zero” — an idea that originated in Sweden and has since been embraced by the DeBlasio administration.

“You don’t just put up a sign and expect everything to change right away,” said Caroline Samanporo, senior director at Transportation Alternatives. “But by doing education, outreach and enforcement, drivers will adjust.”

Five people were killed in traffic along Jerome Avenue from 2008-2012, according to city statistics. Four people died on the stretch of Third Avenue set for a slowdown.

Bronx elected officials are nearly uniform in approving the major thoroughfare slowdowns as a way to protect the borough from future fatalities.

“I commend Mayor de Blasio, Commissioner Trottenberg and the Department of Transportation for making traffic safety a top priority and for bringing this program to several busy thoroughfares in the Bronx, where slower speeds and enhanced traffic enforcement will save lives,” said state senator Jeff Klein.

The local congressman who represents much of Third Avenue agreed.

“The signage, signal timing, and speed limit changes that will occur along these busy thoroughfares will help create safer neighborhoods and a better quality of life for Bronxites,” said Congressman José Serrano.

Reach Reporter Ben Kochman at (718) 742–3394. E-mail him at Follow him on Twitter @benkochman.

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