What Slow Zone Gateways Could Look Like

Image: NACTO
A gateway treatment that could withstand sloppy driving. Image: NACTO

We reported yesterday that NYC DOT has moved “gateway signage” at the entrances to 20 mph Slow Zones from the roadbed to the sidewalk because motorists were running over the signs at what the agency calls an “unsustainable rate.” With some more resources for traffic calming, the agency could take a different approach: upgrading the temporary signs-and-paint treatment to permanent concrete.

Above is a gateway rendering from the NACTO Urban Design Guide, which describes its features:

Curb extensions are often applied at the mouth of an intersection. When installed at the entrance to a residential or low speed street, a curb extension is referred to as a “gateway” treatment and is intended to mark the transition to a slower speed street.

Unlike pedestrian islands in the middle of a street, corner redesigns require rebuilding underground systems, which necessitates the involvement of other city agencies and adds to construction costs. But this level of engineering is what will ultimately make Vision Zero succeed in New York.

And relatively speaking, pedestrian improvements are still cheap. The $55 million Mayor de Blasio wants to spend on ferry infrastructure could build a lot of permanent Slow Zone gateways.

h/t to Doug Gordon at Brooklyn Spoke

  • c2check

    Those bioswales are also a great place for all that slush to go instead of in your shoes! (pick some hardy plants!)

  • Bluewndrpwrmlk96

    Great illustration! This incorporates so many ideals in such a small, yet common area of the cityscape: the corner. Firstly, one can see how such an idea was inspired, possibly the slowdowns caused by snow plows. It causes the motorist to slow down dramatically, better establishment of eye contact with crossing pedestrians, and mentally / physically enforces the type of zone the motorist is entering. Additionally, the crosswalk is shortened, and bioswales to curb rainwater runoff where it happens the most: corner catch basins. This is a much needed improvement from the common grey upside-down flower pots from a lackluster NYCDOT.

  • AnoNYC

    I like it but these should be located along the entrance to side streets of all major arteries. Or everywhere really.

  • c2check

    Hear, hear!

  • USbike

    The bike lane and the parking lane should be swapped. That would make cycling along the block a lot more pleasant, reduce the chances of being doored and, even if that were to happen, the person riding the bike wouldn’t be pushed out into the roadway with oncoming cars, etc. Obviously the parking should be set back at the intersection, at least 25-30 feet ideally. There are also different options on how to increase visibility for people walking and cycling at such intersections.

  • Tyler

    But but but you’re stealing all the parking!! (umm, or potentially 1 spot in that illustration, but still…. aaaaack!!!)

  • J

    Another idea I’ve always liked is to simply narrow the driving area. Right now the one-way streets in the Inwood “Slow Zone” (and many other slow zones) have a gap of 15 feet between parked cars. For context, expressway lanes are 13 feet wide. Wide open lanes make it comfortable to drive much faster than 20mph.

    The slow zones that actually get people to drive <20mph are in Chinatown and the financial district, where the space between cars is 9-10 feet. Nobody exceeds 20mph there and the injury rates are much lower as a result.

    Compare the top and the bottom photos (Inwood & Chinatown). Narrow the space, reduce the speed.

  • J

    Yes! This is what Vision Zero looks like.

  • Gordon Padelford

    If you’re going to spend all that money doing curb and drainage work, why not just go for it and raise the crosswalk to create vertical deflection to calm traffic as it enters the slow street.

  • Ill say this about the other day’s discussion about where the signage is placed: street vs sidewalk – in a perfect world with unlimited funding and person power it should be the street.

    But seeing the Slow Zones in my nabe – I am in one and can walk to four others in any direction in 20 minutes or less – I have seen the damage to the posts (one was taken out by a plow recently ) and they also seem to be a graffiti taggers delight.

    It’s a tough decision and I can see why DOT made it. Doesn’t change that I’d like them in the street.

    However, what I would really like to see is a multi-step incrementalism that I think would really help slow zones.

    Step 1 could be the kinds of treatments we have now to get them in the ground. Get people to realize the speed adjustment.

    Step 2 if that doesn’t significatly slow speeds of make neighbors feel safer (and I think personally it is not enough in the long run) then spend more money to convert to real gateway treatments like the above.

    ALSO: one speed bump per block is welcome. But to avoid the drivers speeding to mid-block then slowing for speed bump, you really need 2 or 3 bumps per block like they do in Berkeley, Oakland and Portland. When I was in poor poor Paraguay last year they had speed bumps placed just feet inside the entrance to some roads!

    STEP 3 Could be stronger traffic calming devices. chicanes and mid-block areas for crossing street with raised crosswalks, benches, giant planters.

    That way we could keep making these slow speed zones ever better every year!

  • Brian Wood

    If drivers are destroying property at an unsustainable rate, then perhaps what we need are spikes in the no drive zones which, after driving over them, will result in a loss of tire pressure that prevents the apparently unskilled driver from endangering any other city infrastructure or inhabitants. Placating incompetent drivers just results in wider, less people friendly streets. There are natural consequences to pedestrians who cross streets in an unsafe manner (they get hit), and we seem to accept those consequences as being due to the foolish behavior of those who dart across an active roadway. Yet, we remove all natural consequences to vehicular damage–damage that might send a clear a message to drivers that they must pay attention to their surroundings for their own safety, for the public safety, for the preservation of public infrastructure and for the preservation of their own vehicles.

  • Schrödinger’s Cat

    My first thought too! Why must people walking descent to roadway level? Surely the footway should continue uninterrupted across the junction mouth, with cars having to mount a hump?

  • Po

    regarding Inwood — we do not even have marked crosswalks at many of our crossings, especially at the many t-intersections.


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