NYC Will Roll Out Nine Additional Arterial Slow Zones by September

Over the past three weeks, DOT has been rolling out its 25 mph arterial slow zone program to high-crash streets one by one: Atlantic Avenue, the Grand Concourse, McGuinness Boulevard, and this morning, Broadway in Manhattan. Now, the initiative will expand to nine more streets across the city by the end of August, with 12 more streets to be announced later this year.

As of today, DOT has announced 13 arterial slow zones to be installed by the end of August. Image: NYC DOT/Twitter
As of today, DOT has announced 13 arterial slow zones to be installed by the end of August. Image: NYC DOT/Twitter

Each corridor will receive 25 mph speed limit signs (with the exception of Queens Boulevard), as well as retimed traffic signals and focused enforcement from NYPD. Here is the complete list of arterial slow zones announced today, including anticipated implementation dates and the number of traffic fatalities on each since 2008:

  • East Gun Hill Road in the Bronx this May, covering three miles from Jerome Avenue to the New England Thruway, which had four fatalities.
  • Southern Boulevard in the Bronx this July, covering four miles from Bruckner Boulevard to East Fordham Road, which had three fatalities.
  • Canal Street in Manhattan this June, covering 1.5 miles from East Broadway to West Street, which had six fatalities.
  • Jamaica Avenue in Queens this May, covering 4.8 miles from the Van Wyck Expressway to 224th Street, which had eight fatalities.
  • Northern Boulevard in Queens this May, covering 4.2 miles from 40th Road to 114th Street, which had five fatalities. (DOT called this “phase one” for Northern Boulevard, indicating that an additional section of the street is slated to be designated as an arterial slow zone.)
  • Queens Boulevard in Queens this July, covering 7.4 miles from Jackson Avenue to Hillside Avenue in July, which had 23 fatalities. (DOT is lowering the speed limit from 35 mph to 30 mph on Queens Boulevard, although a press release from the agency in 2012 says that it had already done this. Queens Boulevard will not have a 25 mph limit, but DOT is counting it as part of the arterial slow zone program.)
  • Rockaway Boulevard in Queens this August, covering 5.4 miles from 75th Street to Farmers Boulevard, which had nine fatalities.
  • Forest Avenue in Staten Island this June, covering five miles from Victory Boulevard to Goethals Road, which had six fatalities.
  • Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn this June, covering 3.9 miles from Plaza Street East to Bushwick Avenue, which had 15 fatalities.

With a total of 13 announced arterial slow zones, DOT has publicly identified more than half of the streets that will comprise the 25 arterial slow zones it has set out to implement by the end of the year. The streets selected for the program so far cover more than 61 miles of roadway and have had a combined 152 traffic fatalities since 2008.

DOT is adding pedestrian islands to the Northern Boulevard intersection where an unlicensed truck driver killed 8-year-old Noshat Nahian in the crosswalk last year. Queens elected officials and street safety advocates, who joined Trottenberg at today’s announcement on Northern Boulevard, have pressed for design changes as part of Vision Zero. So far, DOT has not announced significant street redesigns as a component of the arterial slow zone program, instead focusing on speed limits and signal timing.

DOT says its arterial slow zone signal retimings are aimed at slowing down off-peak drivers, especially between midnight and 6 a.m., when 21 percent of pedestrian fatalities occur. (Only four percent of pedestrian travel happens during these hours.) Arterial streets comprise only 15 percent of New York’s roadways but account for 60 percent of its pedestrian fatalities, according to DOT.

Stepped-up enforcement is another component of the arterial slow zone program. So far, NYPD has said that it will increase enforcement of speeding, failure to obey traffic signals, and failure to yield to pedestrians along arterial slow zones. Because NYPD summons data is aggregated by precinct and lacks specific location information, it is impossible for the public to know whether the department is concentrating enforcement resources on particular streets.

This post has been updated to reflect the speed limit change on Queens Boulevard.

  • Ben_Kintisch

    All slow zone arterials should receive protected bike lanes as standard design treatments. This would save lives and calm traffic. New bike super-highways would emerge.

  • J

    No writeup on Queens Blvd, aka “The Boulevard of Death”? That one seems like a particularly big win!

  • millerstephen

    @Uptowner13:disqus The post has been updated.

  • Political concerns have to be part of the strategy… the city still has powerful interests who are resistant to any/all bike lanes, even if they are a small minority of the population (as are vocal advocates FOR bike lanes – the majority of people are indifferent)…

    I don’t want DOT to be TOO cautious but I do approve, as a citizen, the slow continuous approach of easing in traffic reconfigurations in digestible pieces so that the end result is a politically-approved citywide network of facilities. The network doesn’t have to be comprehensive at first… but, as we are seeing, the mere existence of some of these facilities in places where they were easy to add (and easy to reverse if claims of “carmageddon” were realized) serves as a powerful rebuttal to NIMBYs who will never consider speculative arguments of merit. Eventually the voices of the uncooperative will be drowned out by a public that wants known improvements that are easily achievable. We will see a day where protected streets are widespread, but it would be unwise to roll them out in such a hasty manner that they end up being erroneously blamed for existing traffic issues. (Of which there are many)

  • Jonathan Hawkins

    Would love to see Coney Island Avenue and Ocean Parkway in the next iteration.

  • HamTech87

    I recently had a conversation about enforcement with a non-NYC police officer. He said that in a 30mph zone, the person has to be driving over 45 for the officer to give the driver a ticket. This is due to the fear that the radar detector information will be contested, unless it is way over the speed limit.

    Is this something others have experienced?

  • J

    Bummer that it’s a fake slow zone. Reminds me of Chicago’s “buffer protected bike lanes”; using semantic twists and counting semi-related projects in order to meet numerical targets instead of actually doing the hard work to make real change.

  • pol

    No. There are parallel corridors that would be more appropriate for a protected bike lane. Even at 25 mph the volume of traffic will make biking unpleasant. Getting bike facilities on those roads would better serve cyclists by giving them a less unpleasant ride, and engender less opposition from motorists.

  • Takethelane

    Wrong. Put in the bike lane.

  • JK

    Installing any speed limit signs for any speeds on any big NYC streets is a big thing in itself! Where on upper Bway is there a sign? How many on Qns and Northern Blvd? Seriously, it will be a surprise to a lot of motorists — and cops — to see any posted speed limits.

  • StepUpAndSaySomething

    I’ve heard that too, but it sounds like an excuse for the cops to decide their own speed limit. If the radar gun isn’t properly configured, all tickets can be thrown out anyway. So it’s the NYPD’s responsibility to keep them in working order and enforce the law on the books. I would agree we should target the worst offenders first but adding an extra 50% to the legal speed limit is really a bit more discretion then an officer should have.

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