NYC’s First 20 MPH “Slow Zone” Coming to Claremont Section of the Bronx

Photo: Brad Aaron

The speed limit will be reduced from 30 miles per hour to 20 miles per hour in the Claremont neighborhood of the Bronx, Mayor Bloomberg and DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan announced today, fulfilling a promise laid out last year in the city’s pedestrian safety action plan to pilot a 20 mph zone in one New York City neighborhood. Similar slow speed zones in London have been proven to save lives and prevent injuries.

Bloomberg and Sadik-Khan were joined by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon at a press event today announcing the UN’s Decade of Action for Road Safety, which will call attention to the 1.3 million people killed and 20 to 50 million people injured in traffic crashes each year worldwide.

We’ll have a full report on the announcement later today. According to a press release, Claremont was selected based on several factors, including crashes per square mile, number of schools and subway stops, and the location of truck routes.

  • Driver

    Isn’t the problem that people ignore the 30 mph speed limit? Why not have a strict enforcement of the 30 rather than such a restrictive 20 mph (which will also be ignored). 20 mph is ridiculously slow if you have a wide open line of sight. 20 mph makes sense under the El’s, where vision is restricted and pedestrians are harder to see.

    This will just be another way for the nypd to target the people of the Bronx. I say this because in my travels, I see many more people pulled over for traffic infractions in the Bronx than other areas. While Manhattan and Queens get traffic agents at overly congested intersections, the Bronx gets cops in unmarked cars to ticket the poor schlep who gets stuck in the intersection because of poor traffic design.

  • Zulu

    What may appear overly restrictive to you is life saving for many others. A few extra seconds of travel time even minutes is really a very small sacrifice to make in the name of safety.

  • Tom

    Question: Is the new lowered limit applied only to the residential side-streets, as it is in London, or, is it ‘area-wide’ including avenues and truck-routes?

  • Tom

    Question: Is the new lowered limit applied only to the residential side-streets, as it is in London, or, is it ‘area-wide’ including avenues and truck-routes?

  • Anonymous

    That’s great news. Happy that we’re doing these sorts of safety experiments on our streets.

  • Driver

    True, that’s why a strict enforcement of the 30mph seems reasonable. If 30 mph wasn’t safe, it wouldn’t be the citywide speed limit. The problem is people routinely speed over the 30 mph limit, a problem well worth addressing. Addressing this by lowering the speed limit to 20 is overkill. I am curious to see what some of the other drivers here think of a blanket 20 mph. If you have ever driven 20 mph on an open road, you know it is generally slower than is needed to drive safely.

  • Joe R.

    This only makes sense if accompanied by elimination of all traffic lights and stop signs in the 20 mph zone, as has usually been done when this was tried overseas. That’s the only sure way to get drivers to stay at 20 mph-if they have to go by sight at each and every intersection. And incidentally, travel times would likely be similar to before since motorists can more or lesss hold a steady speed.

  • Joe R.

    This only makes sense if accompanied by elimination of all traffic lights and stop signs in the 20 mph zone, as has usually been done when this was tried overseas. That’s the only sure way to get drivers to stay at 20 mph-if they have to go by sight at each and every intersection. And incidentally, travel times would likely be similar to before since motorists can more or lesss hold a steady speed.

  • I’d be all about a 20mph speed limit in Greenpoint (and Northside) where I live, work, walk to work, and own a car that I use for hauling heavy crap around. When driving on Wythe headed south from Greenpoint, you can’t really drive above 20mph, anyway, you’ll kill somebody. Same for going north on Kent Ave.

    Franklin St. is a speedway, and lots of cars love to make those no-look left turns onto our side streets without slowing down much, makes crossing streets like Java and Kent while walking down Franklin a game of frogger at pretty much all times of the day.

  • I’d be all about a 20mph speed limit in Greenpoint (and Northside) where I live, work, walk to work, and own a car that I use for hauling heavy crap around. When driving on Wythe headed south from Greenpoint, you can’t really drive above 20mph, anyway, you’ll kill somebody. Same for going north on Kent Ave.

    Franklin St. is a speedway, and lots of cars love to make those no-look left turns onto our side streets without slowing down much, makes crossing streets like Java and Kent while walking down Franklin a game of frogger at pretty much all times of the day.

  • Joe R.

    I can tell you even as a cyclist I’m not too keen on this if 20 mph will also be used on arterials. I’m OK with 20 on narrow residential streets but on arterials I exceed 20 mph quite often most rides. Like it or not, NYC needs some fast arterials to function. Maybe we should try a carrot-stick approach. Lower the limit to 20 on
    narrow residential streets but raise it to 40-45 mph on the arterials. In both cases it will more or less match existing speed patterns. At least with 20 mph on residential streets you can now ticket drivers flying between stop signs.

  • ddartley

    @Driver (and @Joe R., who’s made a similar point or two), It’s not true that “if 30 wasn’t safe, it wouldn’t be the city wide li@2555783a6f62598b6aadd2d882a4830f:disqus mit.”

    Speed limits have traditionally been determined by measureing the already-prevailing driver behavior in a certain area, not judging how dangerous or safe the speed is.

  • ddartley

    Sorry, I still can’t get Disqus to work from this computer…

  • Driver

    That theory does not explain the 50 mph speed limits on city parkways.

  • carma

    agree. a narrow one way street like lets say w 10th st in brooklyn is a narrow road in which 20mph may be a correct speed limit. although i say 25mph is probably more appropriate. but an arterial like queens blvd would really make traffic a standstill. (although it probably is already during rush hours)

  • carma

    exactly,. if there were less stops and traffic lights. you can consistently keep speed w/o going to 30 only to stop to 0 to reach 30 repeat repeat..

  • Driver

    That doesn’t make sense. Without stops signs or lights, everyone would be forced to slow down significantly at pretty much every intersection with the exception of major thoroughfares, where side street traffic would struggle to make its way into a constant steady flow. How do you figure that everyone can run a steady 20 mph with uncontrolled intersections? Every intersection would essentially become a game of chicken.

    This doesn’t even address the impossible situation pedestrians would face trying to cross any multi lane street.

  • The only purpose to this is to have a ridiculously low speed-limit that most drivers won’t follow in order to ticket more drivers in order to get extra money for the Bloomberg administration’s budget. Neurotic politicians want to please non-drivers who exaggerate the dangers of drivers and pretty soon it won’t even make sense to own a car in New York City at all because you’d be better off with a bike. All the speed bumps, stops signs and lowered speed limits will make it easier to beat a car with a bike because the cars will be so slow. That is, until it becomes a ridiculous experience to ride a bike in New York City when the over-zealous Bloomberg administration and other quality-of-life neurotics have their mindless cops ticket bikers for anything just like drivers. All this is, is an example of excessive government control over the lives of citizens. No one really understands what freedom in the supposed one-time “freest country in the world,” really should mean because they’re so damn busy creating justifications for restricting freedom. And, let me guess: The speed-limit is probably 20mph 4am as well.

  • Joe R.

    A lot of whether or not you need to slow down depends upon sight lines. Also, even if that’s the case, it wastes less time slowing to 5 or 10 at every intersection than driving at 20 for a while, but often being stuck at lights.
    I have some GPS logs from car trips with my brother where if we’re lucky we average 15 mph on local streets (and this is with a 30 mph limit which traffic typically exceeds). Now imagine a 20 mph limit AND traffic lights. It’ll be faster to walk. Besides, this concept of “naked streets” has been tried and worked fine overseas. NYC might take a cue and start using more roundabouts. That would dovetail nicely with a 20 mph limit. As for pedestrians, I’m going on the assumption the 20 mph limits will be mainly relatively quiet, narrow residential streets. If that’s the case, it would be unusual not to find a natural break in traffic long enough to cross.

  • Joe R.

    NYC speed limits are legislated, unfortunately. If we went by the 95th percentile used on limited-access highways, the limit would probably be 60 or 65, not 50. On local streets it would vary, and likely be over 30 in many places. For exampIe, I wouldn’t be surprised if a speed limit set by proper traffic engineering practice on Queens Blvd. came out to 50 or 55. When speed limits are legislated instead ofof set by traffic engineers, the end result is the poor compliance with speed limits which we see. Reengineering the streets is the only relliable way to slow traffic.

  • carma

     driver,

    i dont think “every” intersection should have no traffic control device or sign.  but an overuse of traffic control is slowing traffic and seldom creaates a safer envioronment.  yes, you dont want to play chicken at every intersection.  but reducing the number of stop signs from all way to single way stop signs would help.  again, this probably wouldnt work in heavy traffic manhattan.  and joe is right, some roundabouts would make sense if people learn how to yield properly.

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