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Community Leader Calls for Traffic 'Slow Zone' in East Village

By Elizabeth Barber | April 18, 2013 6:30pm
 The proposed zone would cap speeds at 20 miles per hour.
The proposed zone would cap speeds at 20 miles per hour.
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Tompkins Square Park & Playground Parents’ Association

EAST VILLAGE — A local community leader is pushing to slow cars and make roads safer in the East Village.

Chad Marlow, the founder of the Tompkins Square Park & Playground Parents’ Association, wants to bring a "slow zone" to the East Village as part of the Department of Transportation’s Slow Zone program, which lowers the speed limit within designated zones from 30 to 20 miles per hour.

Marlow and his organization plan to submit their proposal by the end of May, Marlow wrote in an op-ed in The Villager.

The zone would run from First Avenue east to the FDR Drive, and from Second Street north to 14th Street.

To qualify for a DOT slow zone, neighborhoods must meet certain standards, including a dense concentration of children or impaired pedestrians and high accident counts, said Marlow, 41, adding that the East Village easily qualifies.

“It’s not that we want a slow zone — it’s that we have a pressing need for one,” Marlow told DNAinfo.com New York. “If the proposal isn’t accepted, I sincerely believe that something will have gone horribly wrong.”

The proposed zone has 12 schools and 22 daycare centers, as well as three senior centers, according to Marlow.

From 2005 to 2009, there were 143 pedestrian injuries and 70 cyclist injuries in the zone, according to statistics compiled by Transportation Alternatives, a traffic safety advocacy group.

“Our primary goal is protecting children, but this will also help everybody,” Marlow said.

Marlow, who is a Community Board 3 member, is in part motivated by personal tragedy. When he was 23-years-old, his father was hit by a speeding drunk driver, an accident that left him bedridden as a quadriplegic with a severe brain injury for the final 13 years of his life.

“If I could save one family from going through what mine did, that would be the crowning personal achievement of my life,” Marlow said.

There are currently five slow zones in New York City, according to the DOT website. Proposals for slow zones must be approved by both the DOT and the local community board. The DOT accepts applications from March to May each year.