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Harlem Kids Get Speed Sign Installed Near School

By Jeff Mays | June 2, 2011 8:00am | Updated on June 2, 2011 9:24am

By Jeff Mays

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

HARLEM — Even a kid knows you can't speed past a school.

Fourth-grader Aboubacar Diaby couldn't believe how badly people were driving outside P.S. 175 in Harlem when his class walked to nearby Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd. and 134th Street.

"We saw people speeding, texting and talking on the phone," said the 10-year-old. "(They were) eating and rushing through the yellow light."

According to the Department of Transportation (DOT), there were six pedestrian injuries and 18 vehicular passenger injuries at the intersection — which is a block from the school — in the past five years.

The fourth grade class at P.S. 175 Henry Highland Garnet School decided to try to change that, and wrote to DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan requesting a speed board showing drivers how fast they were going.

The board arrived Wednesday.

"This tells people the speed limit and helps them to slow down," said Damaris Bailey, 10.

The project is part of a DOT education campaign to get drivers to obey the city's 30 mile per hour speed limit.

Speeding drivers will see signs on the side of the road flashing a skeleton with the words "Slow Down."

A May DOT study found that between 1:30 and 2:30 p.m. on a weekday, approximately 48 percent of the vehicles on Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd. near West 134th Street were traveling above the speed limit, with some going as fast as 38 miles per hour.

In the evening, 61 percent of drivers were traveling over the speed limit, with some traveling at the highway speed of 58 miles per hour.

"There are dozens of schools along this corridor and we are trying to educate the community that the speed limit is 30 miles per hour for a reason," said Kim Wiley-Schwartz, the DOT's assistant commissioner of education and outreach.

The kids got a lesson from DOT staff on how the speed board worked, and watched as DOT staff installed the machine. Teacher Lekesha Morton said the project taught the students about taking responsibility for their community.

"It really opened their eyes and helped them realize they have a voice," said Morton. "If they see an unsafe situation or a problem, they now know they can do something about it."

A proud Acsa Garcia, 10, agreed with her teacher. She talked about how they drew up charts and graphs to help make their case to the DOT.

"This was our idea," said 9-year-old Tylik Johnson.