Slow Zone Plan for Bed-Stuy and Clinton Hill Rejected by Community Board

By Paul DeBenedetto on February 11, 2014 8:29am 

 Brooklyn Community Board 3 voted against a slow zone on the Bed-Stuy and Clinton Hill border.
Brooklyn Community Board 3 voted against a slow zone on the Bed-Stuy and Clinton Hill border.
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Department of Transportation

BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — A plan to turn part of Bed-Stuy and Clinton Hill into a "slow zone," lowering speed limits from 30 mph to 20 mph to combat dangerous driving in the area, was rejected by the local Community Board.

CB3 voted 27-4 against writing a letter of support for the neighborhood slow zone at its meeting Monday. Some board and community members cited traffic worries and a lack of data on the part of the city's Department of Transportation.

One local community group even formally renounced its support for the project during the meeting, which just minutes earlier had been touted by the DOT as part of a 45-minute presentation on the plan.

The Classon-FulGate Block Association, which was one of 14 community groups and officials listed as a supporter of the project, said it could no longer support the plan, which it said would make traffic on an already-congested Classon Avenue even worse.

"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.

"Making the speed limit even slower will make things even worse."

The slow zone, first reported by DNAinfo New York in October, was selected by the city in October as a project it would pursue. It would encompass the area between Classon Avenue, Lafayette Avenue, Bedford Avenue and Fulton Street.

Border streets like Classon would not be affected by the change, according to the DOT.

But the 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."

The DOT's Slow Zone Initiative was one of the sweeping changes made to the city's transportation system under former Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan as a way to curb speeding and, as a result, reduce fatalities.

Under Sadik-Khan and former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the city long-argued that a pedestrian hit at 40 mph has a 70 percent chance of dying, while a pedestrian hit at 30 mph has an 80 percent chance of surviving.

A pedestrian hit in the 20 mph slow zone will have a 95 percent chance of surviving, according to DOT estimates.

“Speeding is the single greatest contributing factor in traffic fatalities in our city,” Bloomberg said at the time. “Slow Zones have shown proven results in curbing dangerous driving and we want more neighborhoods to benefit from the program.”

The area in Clinton Hill and Bed-Stuy was chosen as a slow zone in part because of traffic injuries in the area, the city said. The 0.2-square-mile area averages 62.4 injuries per year, with about six injuries or fatalities per road mile, according to the DOT. There are also four schools within the zone's boundaries.

Community Board 2, which houses part of the slow zone in Clinton Hill, voted to approve the traffic-calming measures last month, according to the Brooklyn Paper.

The zone was not without its supporters on Monday. Besides the four members of the community board who voted in support of the slow zone, Bed-Stuy resident Ben Kintisch defended the plan during the public comment section of the presentation.

"I can't remember how many times I've been walking with my child and scared to death because of a speeding motorist," Kintisch said.

"Most of us who have little ones, whether they're children or grandchildren, think about it. If you slow down a little bit and save a life, it's worthwhile."

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