Brooklyn CB 3 Votes Against Saving Lives in Bed-Stuy and Clinton Hill

Heat map of crashes within the proposed Clinton Hill/Bed-Stuy Slow Zone from August 2011 through December 2013. Click to enlarge. Image: ##http://nyc.crashmapper.com/11/8/13/12/standard/collisions/2/17/40.685/-73.960##NYC Crashmapper##
Heat map of crashes within the proposed Clinton Hill/Bed-Stuy Slow Zone from August 2011 through December 2013. Click to enlarge. Image: ##http://nyc.crashmapper.com/11/8/13/12/standard/collisions/2/17/40.685/-73.960##NYC Crashmapper##

On Monday, Brooklyn Community Board 3 voted against a Slow Zone in a crash-prone area that encompasses parts of Bedford-Stuyvesant and Clinton Hill. Opponents said slowing down drivers would cause gridlock, and the board doubted that slower speeds would reduce crashes, according to DNAinfo.

The proposed zone is bordered by Washington Avenue, Lafayette Avenue, Bedford Avenue, and Fulton Street. DOT data show the .2-square mile area has an average of 62.4 traffic injuries a year, and six severe injuries or fatalities per road mile. There are four schools inside the zone and eight pre-K or daycare centers. Scores of pedestrians and cyclists were injured by motorists within the proposed zone area between August 2011 and December 2013, according to NYPD data mined by NYC Crashmapper.

DOT only proposes Slow Zones where residents apply for them. DNAinfo reported that 14 local groups and officials endorsed the Clinton Hill/Bed-Stuy zone, which is one of five slated to be installed this year. The Community Board 2 transportation committee voted in favor of the Slow Zone last month, with a vote by the full board expected Wednesday.

After a 45-minute presentation from DOT, CB 3 members voted 27-4 against writing a letter of support.

[T]he department struggled on Monday to make its case for the plan with a presentation critics called confusing. They said it lacked specific details on how the plan would lead to a decrease in accidents.

“Was there a traffic study done?” asked board secretary Kimberly Hill. “Your presentation lacks the data necessary for us to feel comfortable and confident.”

“Classon Avenue is a traffic jam during the morning hours, and they blow their horns and blow their horns,” said Demetrice Mills, president of the Classon-FulGate Block Association, which rescinded its support for the zone. “Making the speed limit even slower will make things even worse.”

First, if people are honking, they’re already going slower than 20 miles per hour. A 20 mph zone won’t make gridlock worse, but it will slow drivers on streets where they are currently able to drive at unsafe speeds.

There is no debating that in the event of a collision, lower speeds save lives. Within London’s 20 mph zones, serious injuries and fatalities dropped by 46 percent, and deaths and serious injuries suffered by children decreased by 50 percent.

As far as the call for a traffic study, the injury figures are the study. A Slow Zone doesn’t change the capacity of a street or, for instance, alter where and how drivers can make turns. All it does is add speed humps and signage to streets that meet Slow Zone criteria.

CB 3’s opposition to life-saving infrastructure is completely baseless, and threatens the well-being of pedestrians of all ages in Bed-Stuy and Clinton Hill. With community support for this Slow Zone beyond CB 3, its progress will be a test of NYC’s commitment to Vision Zero.

  • SteveVaccaro

    StreetsPAC’s losses in CD 34 and 35 really hurting now.

  • Mark Walker

    Here’s a question for the new DOT chief: Should a CB be able to override the wishes of 14 community groups? Especially when lives are at stake?

  • Remember, Vision Zero is Bill de Blasio’s policy. Polly Trottenberg was merely hired to implement it, and I don’t doubt her commitment to safer streets. But just like JSK needed the strong backing of Mayor Bloomberg, Mayor de Blasio has to step forward and stick up for his department heads, perhaps even more so given the scope and scale of Vision Zero. It will require moral leadership straight from the top.

    It may be premature to ask him to intervene here, so we’ll see what happens after February 15th when the task force’s recommendations start meeting this kind of resistance at the community board level.

    This is also another example of why NYC needs home rule. It’s ridiculous to have certain safety policies such as speed limits decided on a neighborhood-by-neighborhood basis. Why does someone who lives just on the outside a Slow Zone not deserve safer streets?

  • BBnet3000

    “and the board doubted that slower speeds would reduce crashes”

    I blame our middle school science teachers.

  • asd

    Unless it increases crashes significantly, we’d be better off with the lower speed limit on neighborhood streets like this.

  • Daisy

    Similarly, I’m curious to see how de Blasio’s commitment to Vision Zero squares up with his contention that DOT needs to act with more community support. Here, you have community groups asking for something, and then the CB refusing to support it. Which part of “the community” should DOT be responding to?

  • J:L

    Clearly cars are more important than human lives. What a disgrace.

  • JarekAF

    These people are so stupid.

  • Ari_FS

    Did the “Classon Avenue is a traffic jam” quote come right before the “making the speed limit even slower will make things even
    worse” quote? Or was that selective editing?

    Brad?

  • Brad Aaron

    I don’t know. Paul DeBenedetto wrote the DNAinfo story.

  • Guest

    Please explain when “the community asked for this.

    Funny how if the zealots approve, then the the CB is all right. But if they stand up against you, then it’s ” We don’t NEEdD no steenin CB”

  • Kevin Love

    Bill de Blasio was elected on a platform of Vision Zero.

    As far as I am concerned, that election was the community consultation.
    CBs should be consulted for their input on the nitty-gritty detail of implementation at street level. But CBs should NOT be allowed to torpedo the whole concept of safe streets and NOT be allowed to prevent implementation of Vision Zero.

  • Reader

    This project originated when Tish James represented the area. Even she touted the “strong community support” when the neighborhood’s application was selected.

    http://teamtish.blogspot.com/2013/10/cm-james-announces-2014-clinton-hill.html

    Is she a zealot?

  • JarekAF

    They might as well just say: “There’s always so much traffic. Forcing us to drive slower on the few occasions when we can actually move, seems like a burden to the car driving among us. Oh, and we don’t give a f–k about dead children. Which is why we act like idiots re: the connection between speed limits in dense residential neighborhoods and traffic injuries to vulnerable street users.”

    Like how stupid are these people? If these were southerners questioning evolution, we’d all be laughing at them. You put up a bunch of signs that say slow zone. You lower speed limit. Put more lines and colors on the street reminding people to drive slower. Voila, cars don’t exceed 35mph as much and a lot less people are maimed. This isn’t freaking brain surgery. You don’t need to run GIS maps and stata regressions.

    Dense neighborhood. Slower cars. Less deaths/injuries to peds. Christ, this isn’t the Second Avenue Subway.

  • Clarke

    Do these lofty plans of installing a few signs (that drivers will inevitably mow down) offer anything in terms of change in street design or improved enforcement? Otherwise, head over to Kinko’s and print out a bunch of 20 mph speed limit signs and tape them to light posts for the same effect.

  • Zealots?

  • Bluewndrpwrmllk96

    NYCDOT slow zones include reduced lane width, speed bumps, increased signage, etc. It’s not just solely installing new speed limit signs.

    http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/html/motorist/slowzones.shtml

  • sbauman

    You get congestion (e.g. Classon Ave) because garbage in exceeds garbage out. If you decrease only garbage out, congestion will increase. However, if you decrease both by similar amounts, then the amount of congestion will remain the same. The difference is that it will take longer for the congestion to dissipate.

  • SteveVaccaro

    The sky is not falling…this has happened before: http://www.streetsblog.org/2011/11/17/mark-viverito-misinformation-wont-stop-east-harlem-bike-lanes/

    But we need our leadership to step up, as CM Viverito did in East Harlem, to educate the CB members on why there is such widespread support for these improvements.

  • Rabi Abonour

    I was at the meeting, and I believe that was in fact a single statement.

  • dporpentine

    “Zealots” = people who think it would be wise to make slight improvements to avoid killing and injuring people. Even if other people had to [shiver] drive more slowly.

    I can’t believe people feel like “Death and destruction is okay, so long as I get to hit 40 on residential streets” is a winning argument.

  • krstrois

    I helped a friend with this slow zone application — she did the bulk of the work, but I started to help when I moved to the neighborhood from North Brooklyn last summer. It’s worth mentioning that the reason DOT awarded this designation to us, and decided to implement it in the first wave of these next round of zones, was, wait for it . . . strong community support. So, thanks for absolutely nothing to this hidebound CB.

    Will keep working on it, though.

  • krstrois

    Seriously! I’m so bummed to have moved to Tish’s district just as she was leaving. This is really terrible. The community IS supportive when you speak to people on the street, but does need leadership and there is none.

  • Larry Shaeffer

    actually, more vehicles can travel on a street at 20mph than can travel the same street at 30mph-less following space is needed for the lower speeds so more cars can fit into the space. In effect, the 20mph is Plenty strategy is raising the capacity of the streets and reducing congestion.

  • Andrew

    Do you have a source for that? (I’m not doubting it, but I’d be interested in seeing whatever backup you have.)

  • Larry Shaeffer

    here’s a little something on that issue: from the Victoria Transport Policy Institute’s Congestion Reduction Strategies. “A vehicle’s road space requirements
    increase with speed, because drivers must leave more shy
    distance between their vehicle and other objects on or beside the roadway.
    Traffic flow (the number of vehicles that can travel on a road over a
    particular time period) tends to be maximized at 30-55 mph on highways with no
    intersections, and at even lower speeds on arterials with signalized
    intersections. When a roadway approaches its maximum capacity, even small Speed Reductions can significantly increase flow rates.”

  • Andrew

    Thanks. As I said, I don’t need to be convinced myself, but I was hoping for something more quantitative.

  • Larry Shaeffer

    there are some complicated equations that can be applied but when intersections (junctions) are put into the equation assumptions have to be made and results become less accurate

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