Bowing to Brooklyn CB 3, DOT Puts Bed Stuy Slow Zone on Ice

Bedford Stuyvesant won’t be getting 20 mph streets after all. Despite months of talks after Brooklyn Community Board 3 rejected a request from neighborhood residents for a 20 mph Slow Zone in February, DOT has decided to pull the plug on a traffic calming plan covering 23 blocks of Bed Stuy, effectively giving the community board veto power over this street safety project.

Brooklyn CB 3 has succeeded in keeping lower speed limits out of Bed Stuy. Photo:  Shawn Onsgard/Facebook
Bed Stuy residents who supported a Slow Zone were ignored by CB 3. Photo: Shawn Onsgard/Facebook

Even support from Borough President Eric Adams, who appoints community board members, wasn’t enough to revive the plan. Instead, in what DOT described as a compromise with CB 3, the agency spent yesterday installing four speed humps near three schools that would have been in the Slow Zone.

DOT policy prohibits speed humps on streets with bus routes or with more than one lane of traffic. That rules out Franklin Avenue, which would have received a lower speed limit and traffic calming measures if the Slow Zone was implemented. Elizabeth Giddens is a member of the Brooklyn Waldorf School parents association, which asked DOT to consider the neighborhood for traffic calming. “Franklin, which needs the most attention, is getting the least,” she said in an email. “It has the worst numbers for speeding, injuries, and deaths.”

Franklin is two lanes wide between Lafayette Avenue and Atlantic Avenue in Bed Stuy, but just one lane wide elsewhere thanks to a recent road diet project. Giddens said she hopes DOT will consider slimming the rest of Franklin to one lane and installing a speed camera on the street.

West of Classon Avenue, the story is different: Implementation of a Slow Zone is expected to be complete this month [PDF]. Why not in Bed Stuy? It all comes down to community board boundaries. Classon is the dividing line between CB 2 and CB 3. In February, CB 2 voted in favor of a Slow Zone bounded by Washington Avenue, Lafayette Avenue, Bedford Avenue, and Fulton Street, while CB 3 rejected it. Board chair Tremaine Wright told Streetsblog days later that dangerous driving is “not an issue in our community.”

“Drivers race on Bedford, Classon and Franklin all the time,” said Coco Fusco, who has lived on Monroe Street between Franklin and Classon Avenues for 15 years. “One guy drove through my front fence a few years ago,” she said. “I find it very strange and problematic that CB 3 has not provided an argument against the Slow Zone. The CB 3 leader dropped it rather than deal with a mountain of popular support.”

CB 3 chair Tremaine Wright has not responded to a request for comment.

Update: “Pursuing anything less than the fully planned Slow Zone sends the wrong message,” Borough President Adams said in a statement.

  • Eric McClure

    Wow. Way to go, CB3, protecting your community from the danger of reducing danger.

    We’ll take that leftover Slow Zone here in Park Slope, please.

  • chelsea rogers.

    Frustrates me to tears. The amount of dangerous driving going on in this area is terrifying, and could so easily be improved; the streets resident Fusco mentions, along with Dekalb and Nostrand. Bedford hosts drag races whether rush hour or otherwise and truly needs a “road diet” — it reminds me of Lafayette in Manhattan years ago. Along Dekalb, drivers regularly create two lanes out of one (using bike lane and any shoulder), speed to weave in and out of traffic and, however unsurprisingly, have zero respect for the Dekalb bike lane (cops themselves are the biggest issue, followed close behind by all other vehicles). I look forward to moving out of the neighborhood, if this is truly how the community board sees it. Tremaine obviously has no eye on the ground, does not walk her own community, or is one of these asinine, reckless drivers herself.

  • @FtGreeneCyclist

    Unreal. Here’s where you can go to tell CB3 how you feel: http://cb3brooklyn.org

  • Reader

    The DOT has made the mistake of confusing Community Board 3 with the community.

  • Jeff

    You know who this is good news for? This guy:

    We’re not going to optimize our streets for kids walking to school. We’re not going to optimize our streets for senior citizens walking to the grocery store. We’re going to continue optimizing our streets for this guy:

    The streets are not for kids to play in. The streets are not for neighbors to have an idle chat. The streets are for this guy:

    Riding a bike is a nuisance to be looked down upon. Crossing mid-block? An activity reserved for satan himself. You you know what’s a-okay? This:

    So go for it, that guy. The community board has spoken! The streets are yours!

  • dave “paco” abraham

    Off hand I can’t recall, what were the average speeds seen on side streets? Did anyone… DOT or the advocates… do speed gunning studies?

  • Reader

    But according to Tremaine Wright, dangerous driving isn’t an issue in her community. I’m sure all drivers adhere to arbitrary community board boundaries, driving recklessly in one area before hitting the brakes and driving cautiously in another. After all, everyone must know where CB2 ends and CB3 begins, right?

  • StepUpAndSaySomething

    Is everyone on CBs part of the driving minority of New York?

    How could they be so cold to say that they won’t drop 5 mph for redesign that has been shown to save lives of their neighbors? Anyone who says this area is safe for pedestrian is being untruthful or an idiot.

  • BBnet3000

    To answer your opening question: Yep, pretty much.

  • BBnet3000

    I’d say CB3 is letting down its constituents, but I think the word “constituents” is only used in association with ELECTED officials.

  • Daphna

    The Brooklyn Boro President, Eric L Adams, who is elected, could change half of the community board appointments on each community board in Brooklyn. People wanting safer streets, slow zones, traffic calming, etc. should write/call/email his office and express their desire for a change in the membership of CB3.

  • Ari_FS

    To clarify, DOT doesn’t install speed bumps on streets with more than one travel lane per direction. There are examples of two-lane two-way streets with speed bumps.

  • Old Timer

    More white folks getting in our business, if you ask me. I like the way the article’s picture shows a black couple, when we all know 90% of the slow zone supporters are white. Oh, and I’ve seen Coco Fusco drive – she’s the worst parallel parker in the neighborhood. Nice try Stephen.

  • are you saying black people love driving fast or what? I don’t understand your comment. is there something about slower cars that benefits white people and not black people?

  • Tyson White

    90% of the zone victims are black. Keep the race thing in your pants.

  • Bolwerk

    Yes, and the reason is the driving minority is what ends up in the major offices that appoint CB members.

  • CU1

    That’s the thing. I think that people like you overestimate the desire for these slow zones within the community. I, for one, do not support expanded slow zones (though I have no problem with speed humps) as 25 mph is slow enough. And I doubt that many on my block would feel differently if prior conversations on the matter are any indication of things. Not to mention that reducing the speed limit without actual enforcement of the speed limit by NYPD (and, let’s get serious, they aren’t enforcing anything right now) does nothing more than slow down few already safe drivers who adhere to the speed limit.

  • CU1

    The only untruthful and/or idiots in this debate are people who are calling for a reduction in the speed limit in light of the following reality:

    The chance of being killed by a vehicle driving 30 mph is only 20%. At 25 mph, which is the standard speed limit on NYC streets already, the chance of death goes down even more.

    The overwhelming majority of traffic-pedestrian related deaths in this city are the result of drivers going well above the speed limit. That said, and acknowledging that the NYPD does a lousy job at enforcing the speed limit, it makes little sense (and it is disingenuous to cite to traffic deaths that are caused largely by drivers going well above the current speed limit as the reason for a “need” in speed limit reduction) to try to decrease the speed limit even further when the main culprits aren’t even obeying the current speed limit.

    Actually get the NYPD to enforce the current speed limit before you embark on a foolish effort to reduce the speed limit further, which will only serve to “punish” the few of us safe drivers out there who are already obeying the current, more than adequate, speed limit as is.

    In that sense, CB3 is right on the money.

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