In an effort to address speeding, particularly around schools, hospitals and senior centers, Community Board 13 and several area civic groups are asking the city to designate certain hot spots as slow zones.
The designation changes the speed limit, which is 30 miles an hour on most city streets, to 20 miles an hour. The slow zones will be defined by special markings, signage and contain speed calming devices such as stop signs, traffic lights and speed humps.
Tanya Cruz, the chairwoman of CB 13’s Transportation Committee, said Monday that traffic accidents and speeding are a top concern for the board, so when the city introduced the slow zone program, the board jumped at the opportunity to participate and solicited community input to submit requests by the Feb. 3 deadline.
“This is a great opportunity for us to control traffic flow in our community along cut-through streets,” Cruz said, “and address speeding along cut-through streets, densely populated streets and those near where children play and go to school.”
The groups that participated include the Rosedale Civic Association, the Federated Blocks of Laurelton, the Cambria Heights Civic Association and the Bellerose Civic Association. Areas of concern are 139th Avenue between 225th Street and 230th Place in Laurelton; 131st Avenue between Francis Lewis Boulevard and 226th Street also in Laurelton; Edgewood Street between 147th and 149th avenues in Rosedale; and an area in Bellerose bounded by Hillside Avenue to the north, 87th Avenue to the south, Little Neck Parkway to the east and Commonwealth Boulevard to the west.
“It’s amazing how fast people can go from one stop sign to another — sometimes 50 miles an hour,” Cruz said. “The cars are just flying by.”
She added that the speeding combined with a lack of traffic enforcement by the police and a reduction in the number of crossing guards has made dangerous areas even worse. Cruz explained that slow zones act as a “cushion” to buffer areas that have an inordinate amount of traffic and speeding is likely.
DOT will review the locations and discuss them with board before members vote and the city makes its decision. The DOT may also request additional documents including accident reports, petitions or letters of support from elected officials. Once approved, the new slow zones should be installed starting late next summer, according to the DOT’s website.
Implementing slow zones are slightly less complicated than just requesting a traffic calming device, according to Cruz, because they are not regulated by federal guidelines that the city has adopted.
Those require certain standards regarding traffic flow and accidents which are more stringent than the criteria for slow zones, Cruz said, adding that oftentimes car accidents are not reported to the police, thereby allowing the danger in a given area to “fly under the radar.”
In addition to requesting slow zones, Cruz and her committee have been working on compiling a list of the 10 most dangerous intersections in the district, as suggested by residents.
The goal is to bring those locations to the attention of the DOT and figure out how to make them safer whether it be through additional signage or traffic calming devices. The list has been in the works for a few months and has not been finalized yet.
Cruz said she is always looking for input from the community regarding streets or intersections that are problematic. She can be reached by email at tanya4ny@gmailcom.