Fake Speed Limit Signs Protest Slow Zone Decision in Bed-Stuy

By Paul DeBenedetto on April 3, 2014 10:54am 

 Slow zone advocates put up fake 20 mph signs in Bed-Stuy.
Slow zone advocates put up fake 20 mph signs in Bed-Stuy.
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DNAinfo/Paul DeBenedetto

BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — Advocates for a rejected neighborhood slow zone are setting their own speed limit on a Bed-Stuy street.

New street signs advertising a 20 mph speed limit popped up on Greene Avenue, between Classon and Franklin avenues, last month protesting the rejection of a slow zone by Brooklyn Community Board 3, which represents Bed-Stuy.

The street is within the proposed slow zone's radius.

"20 is Plenty," the black-and-white signs read, with images of a cyclist and a pedestrian.

Organizers said the signs would help raise awareness for street safety, but would hopefully have the added benefit of actually slowing traffic.

"On a street like that in Bed-Stuy, I think a car may actually slow down if they see those signs," said Keegan Stephan of traffic safety group Right of Way. "If they [then] happen to crash, a victim is eight times more likely to survive."

Right of Way and traffic-safety advocates Make Brooklyn Safer chose neighborhoods across the city where slow zones were either rejected or haven't been approved to introduce their own illegal signage.

Similar signs popped up in Fort Greene in February. Last month, Right of Way joined with a related organization, Make Queens Safer, to install signs in Jackson Heights and Elmhurst.

The Bed-Stuy signs come after the community board voted against the proposed slow zone during a February meeting, citing traffic worries and a lack of clarity in the city's presentation.

Supporters renewed calls for the zone last month when a green taxi crashed into a school bus carrying special needs children just two blocks outside of the area, knocking the bus on its side and sending six children and three adults to the hospital for evaluation.

The slow zone, which encompasses parts of Bed-Stuy and Clinton Hill, is bordered to the east by Bedford Avenue, to the south by Fulton Street, to the west by Washington Avenue and to the north by Lafayette Avenue.

Department of Transportation officials said they chose to include the 0.2-square-mile area in its slow zone initiative in part because of what officials said was a high number of traffic injuries in the area.

There are an average of 62.4 injuries per year within its borders, adding up to six injuries or fatalities per road mile, according to the DOT. There are also six schools within its borders.

Community Board 2, which represents Clinton Hill, voted to approve the slow zone.

Organizers expressed frustration at Community Board 3's response.

“If we found a cure for measles do we go to a community board to make sure people get what they need?” said Hilda Cohen of Make Brooklyn Safer.

“Relying on people who aren’t experts for proven safety measures, relying on them based on their perceptions, makes no sense. And it certainly won’t get us to vision zero.”

The DOT will make another presentation to the community board in the coming months.

But board chair Tremaine Wright defended Community Board 3, saying that the DOT's presentation did little to answer residents' questions.

There was also a lack of participation from slow zone supporters at February's meeting, Wright said. None of the plan's sponsors were present and only two residents stood up in support of the plan.

One group even renounced its original support for the plan, citing traffic worries.

"If you care about an issue, you have to show up and participate in the conversation," Wright said. "Maybe these people that care a lot can show up and say something."

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