Neighborhood Slow Zone Opens in Claremont, Perhaps the First of Many

The "gateway" treatment at Longfellow Avenue and 167th Street marks the lower speed limit with prominent signage and stenciling on the street. A new speed hump is just visible in the background. Photo: Noah Kazis

The city’s first “neighborhood slow zone” officially opened this morning, bringing a 20 mph speed limit and new traffic calming treatments to the residential Claremont neighborhood in the Bronx. Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, joined by Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., City Council Transportation Committee Chair James Vacca and local District Manager John Dudley, announced that the 20 mph zones would soon be coming to neighborhoods across the city. Starting today, residents and community boards can apply for their own slow zone.

The new Claremont zone covers the roughly 35 city blocks bounded by 167th Street, 174th Street, Southern Boulevard and West Farms Road/Boone Avenue. At each entrance to the zone, street signs flank the road announcing the 20 mph limit and that it is a residential area. Inside the zone, stencils and street signs continue to trumpet the lower speed limit. Nine new speed humps have been added to five already in place, which Sadik-Khan said makes the zone largely self-enforcing. In London, slow-speed zones incorporating traffic-calming treatments are preventing dozens of deaths and serious injuries each year.

Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., City Council Transportation Committee Chair Jimmy Vacca and District Manager John Dudley announced the opening of the Claremont neighborhood slow zone. Photo: Noah Kazis

“To some people, this neighborhood is nothing more than a shortcut,” said Sadik-Khan. That attitude, she noted, has had deadly results. In the last five years, 46 people were killed or seriously injured in traffic crashes in the larger community district between 2006 and 2010. The slower speeds would restore the streets to the community, she said. “Our streets are for New Yorkers. They’re where we live, where we play, where we shop.”

“The slow zone is now one where pedestrians will feel safe,” said Diaz, who said he’d been hearing complaints about safety in the area since he served in the state Assembly. Diaz touted the fact that the program would be expanding to other neighborhoods. “This is not going to stop at Claremont,” he said.

Vacca, too, celebrated the safety improvements. “They will save lives,” he declared. In addition to the speed bumps slowing down cars, he urged motorists to respect the speed limit voluntarily. “Look at your speedometers and see how fast you’re already going, and then slow down,” he said.

The form to get your own neighborhood slow zone is already live on DOT’s website, where the agency lays out the characteristics that will lead to successful applications. DOT is looking for zones that include schools, daycare centers, senior centers, and mostly residential uses, taking up an area roughly five blocks by five blocks and set off by clear boundaries, such as parks or major roads. The city wants to keep the slow zones separate from commercial areas, bus and truck routes and hospitals and fire stations.

Applications must come from community boards, business improvement districts, civic associations or elected officials, and are due by February 3. The first round of slow zones will be selected in March, according to DOT, and installed over the course of next year.

More photos of the slow zone below:

New speed humps are paired with closely spaced signs announcing the bumps and the speed limit. Photo: Noah Kazis
Even where speed bumps weren't placed, striping narrows travel lanes for drivers and stencils remind them of the lower speed limit. Photo: Noah Kazis
  • M to the I

    I’m not a fan of painted lanes. The street should really be narrowed. Drivers will not speed if they have to maneuver through an actual narrow space.

    And look at all that extra space!! There is probably a good 3 feet on each side of the street. They should use that space. I’m sure there are lots of creative people in the neighborhood and city that could come up with ideas for a 6 foot wide, block-long space.

    If you’re gonna do it, do it right.

  • I like the idea and realizes some paint on the ground is the quick, cost effective way to get this done quickly… but wouldn’t some more treatment to the ‘gateway’ really help alert drivers? Even a planter in the striped area would help. Right now, it mostly looks like another sign that’s perhaps too easy for drivers to ignore.

  • Daphna

    There are many zones on the Upper East Side, Upper West Side and in Harlem that could benefit from a 20mph speed limit.  But the goals and restrictions set by the DOT make it seem like few areas in those neighborhoods would qualify.

    “DOT is looking for zones that include schools, daycare centers, senior centers, and mostly residential uses, taking up an area roughly five blocks by five blocks and set off by clear boundaries, such as parks or major roads. The city wants to keep the slow zones separate from commercial areas, bus and truck routes and hospitals and fire stations.”

  • Anonymous

    NYPD barely enforces the traffic laws as is, while will a 20MPH low speed zone be any different?

  • J

    Great idea, hopefully we can make it looks pretty someday.
    Also, there are other ways of narrowing streets. In some parts of Montreal, the streets simply has plastic poles 12 feet apart installed in the middle of the pavement.
    http://bit.ly/rtPJIX

    Elsewhere, Montreal simply places planters in the middle of streets to slow cars down:
    http://bit.ly/ujNF4b

  • chuck

    In the same way that bike lanes have evolved in this city from simple stripes of paint into “complete streets” and buffered lanes, NYC’s 20 MPH plan is surely an early form of what could and should incorporate all the suggestions people have made. 

    Mayor and city love seeing results from cheap infrastructure investments at first, then upgrading them as support increases. 

  • Anonymous

    If you’re adding a bike lane on a narrow street, why not make it contra-flow?  That way bikes will have two directions to travel while autos will have one and will need to slow to the speed of the cyclists.

  • Anonymous

    I’m applying for one for the northwest corner of Inwood, where through/fast traffic likes to shortcut from the Henry Hudson Parkway to the Broadway Bridge via Seaman and W218. Makes perfect sense.

  • iSkyscraper, I suggest you attend the next CB12 traffic & transportation committee meeting at 7 pm on Monday 1/9/2012. They will likely have someone from DOT briefing about the slow zones. I went to the December meeting and the committee was very interested in the idea and how it would apply to our neighborhood.

  • Let’s hope that no cyclist actually ever uses that door zone bike lane – I’d hate to read of someone getting killed on it. Cyclists who prefer to survive should use the traffic lane.

  • samoa

    Would like to hear the results of this slow zone and impact it has had for residents. Prospect Hts is applying for slow zone but simple lines painted and bumps will not slow or deter traffic from new sports arena.

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