Over the weekend community members in ten neighborhoods around the city that have applied for, but not received, Neighborhood Slow Zone designations got together to install their own ’20 Is Plenty’ signs along local streets.
Street safety advocacy group Right of Way organized the installations, noting that speed is the leading cause of traffic fatalities in in the city, and that pedestrians are twice as likely to survive being struck by a car going 20 miles per hour as 30mph.
The Neighborhood Slow Zone program reduces the speed limit from 30mph to 20mph, with a goal of lowering the number and severity of crashes. Park Slope has been in the running before, but so far the neighborhood has been passed up for the program three times. The Park Slope Street Safety Partnership is currently making another push.
“Citizens all over New York City have been trying to implement slow zones for years,” said Conrad Lumm, content director of RoadTrafficSigns, which donated the signs. “The city usually just makes excuse after excuse. We’re happy to help the citizens at Right of Way make changes when city leadership can’t be bothered to cut through its own red tape.”
“Reducing speed limits to 20mph is a great first step to making our streets safer for everyone,” said Liz Patek, an organizer with Right of Way. “To make these slow zones truly effective, it is imperative to redesign our streets with additional traffic calming measures. Human error will occur, but streets designed according to the principles of Sustainable Safety eliminate or greatly reduce the consequences of human error. The cost of redesigning our streets is far outweighed by the cost of losing even one life.”
Prospect Park West, where 12-year-old Sammy Cohen-Eckstein was struck and killed by a van last fall, recently saw its speed limit lowered. After the incident, Right of Way installed these same 20 Is Plenty signs, which were quickly removed, but it wasn’t long before the Department of Transportation actually changed the limit from 30mph to 25mph along the strip.
“If the speed limit had been 20 miles an hour, Sammy would probably still be alive,” says Sammy’s mother, Amy Cohen, in the video above, which was shot over the weekend. “The driver acknowledged that he saw the ball, but he couldn’t stop.”
The Park Slope Street Safety Partnership has created an online petition to demonstrate local support of a Slow Zone, which you can add your name to here.