This afternoon, Assembly Member Joseph Lentol announced that he’s sent a letter to Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg asking for 20 mph speed limits on the busiest, deadliest roads in his district.
“There are three main streets within my district that are notorious for speeders – McGuinness Boulevard, Kent Avenue, and Park Avenue,” Lentol wrote in the January 21 letter [PDF], noting that Mayor de Blasio has proposed expanding the number of 20 mph zones across the city. “I urge you to consider these three roadways when determining where to introduce these new speed zones.”
All three streets strike fear into local residents. Campaigns for traffic calming on McGuinness Boulevard and Park Avenue have led to a few changes by DOT, but advocates along those streets are calling for more significant measures. DOT, which already redesigned much of Kent Avenue to include a two-way protected bike lane, recently proposed a traffic calming plan for the avenue in South Williamsburg after a speeding driver killed a young couple and their unborn child in a hit-and-run crash. The plan has been approved by Community Board 1 and is scheduled to be installed this summer.
State law currently requires streets with speed limits below 25 mph in New York City to include some kind of additional traffic calming measure. “Street layout changes are something that the DOT’s engineers would be tasked to design,” Lentol told Streetsblog in an e-mail. “How DOT and the NYPD goes about that is up to them — of course with community input.”
If DOT agreed to Lentol’s request, it would signify an increased willingness to adjust speed limits on major streets. The city’s Slow Zone program launched with a focus on residential streets but not bigger roads, which consistently see high rates of traffic injuries and fatalities. DOT’s stance could be changing. Recently, the agency lowered the speed limit on Prospect Park West to 25 mph, independently of a Slow Zone project. Streetsblog has asked DOT if it has a response to Lentol’s letter.
Separately, Assembly Member Daniel O’Donnell’s bill to lower the citywide speed limit to 20 mph, except where the city council or DOT say otherwise, has gained support from co-sponsors Walter Mosley, Rhoda Jacobs, Gabriela Rosa and Ellen Jaffee.
Lentol said he liked the legislation’s goals but would not commit to backing the bill, which would replace speed limit signs across the city. “I will have to take a more comprehensive look at this legislation to understand the variables involved,” he said, “including of course the cost with such a drastic policy change.”