Brake fast: Flatbush Avenue speed limit reduced to 25

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Flatbush Avenue is getting the go-slow treatment this fall.

The Department of Transportation is lowering the speed limit from 30 to 25 miles per hour along the second-longest Brooklyn road, as well as two other borough thoroughfares, as part of the city’s Vision Zero push to reduce traffic deaths to zero by 2024. Road-safety activists said that making busy, wide roads so-called “slow zones” is a crucial step towards saving lives.

“What’s really important about this program is that arterial roads are where roughly 60 percent of fatalities are happening,” said Caroline Samponaro, a spokeswoman for the car-critic group Transportation Alternatives. “You have to tackle the streets that are causing the greatest harm.”

The slowdown will affect 7.8 miles of Flatbush Avenue and Flatbush Avenue Extension, from the Manhattan Bridge to Marine Park, though the speed limit will only go down to 30 from 35 along the stretch between Prospect Park and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, where a driver fatally hit a woman in July.

Flatbush Avenue is among the deadliest roads in the borough, having seen 11 fatalities between 2008 and 2012, according to a Department of Transportation press release.

Lowering speed limits is a key component of the transportation department’s efforts to rein in reckless drivers and is considered common-sense by many, the agency’s head said.

“Slow zones are a critical and widely endorsed element of Vision Zero,” said roads czar and Cobble Hill resident Polly Trottenberg. “We are glad to work closely with local communities in bringing these life-saving measures to corridors across the city.”

In addition to the Flatbush Avenue speed reduction, which goes into effect in October, slow zones are coming to the entire 5.5-mile length of Coney Island Avenue this month, and to the whole 4.6 miles of Utica Avenue in October. Utica claimed the most pedestrian lives — 12 — of any of the 14 roadways up for slowing-down citywide, according to the Department of Transportation.

The initiatives come after the state legislature’s late June approval of a bill allowing the city to reduce the default speed limit from 30 to 25 miles-per-hour citywide without going through a piecemeal approval process. Trottenberg told the New York Times that not all roads with faster-than-35-miles-per-hour speed limits will have their limits lowered to 25, and that it will take time for crews to replace all the speed limit signs and re-time lights along roads getting adjusted.

Reach reporter Noah Hurowitz at or by calling (718) 260-4505. Follow him on Twitter @noahhurowitz
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Common Cents from Crown Heights says:
There is/was nothing wrong with 30 mph. Those fatalities occurred with drivers going in excess of 30 mph, many during the early hours and late at night especially on Utica. Those lights run in order and like Flatbush is a mainstay for dollar vans. Reducing the speed limit won't make them drive less reckless either. They will still cut people off and run red lights. It also won't stop people from jaywalking only encourage it. One of the DoTs mandates is to encourage people to take mass transit, well making driving more uncomfortable certainly does that.
Aug. 6, 2014, 4:55 am
Sid from Boerum Hill says:
No one expects the police to enforce 25mph as the actual limit. Even the speed cameras will normally be set 5mphs or more above the limit. But that means the limit will be 30 but not 35-40. Should save lives.
Aug. 6, 2014, 4:59 am
Common Cents from Crown Heights says:
Hopefully it does because as much as I dislike creating new laws due to a failure of enforcing existing laws, people getting struck by vehicles is serious. There are things besides speed that contribute to pedestrian related accidents though such as signals that I haven't heard the DoT address which makes me question if safety really is their prime motive. Example Flatbush and Ave P one of the most dangerous intersections of Flatbush. People see southbound cars stopped at the light and try to cross even though it says don't walk, they don't realize the northbound light is green, then bam! Also why do they remove the countdown signals like on under hill and eastern pkwy?
Aug. 6, 2014, 6:12 am
Rob from Greenpoint says:
Great news! Tolls on the East River bridges would make Flatbush even safer, but this is a great start!
Aug. 6, 2014, 7:38 am
Rufus Leaking from BH says:
Tolls on the East River bridges would make Flatbush even safer, but this is a great start!

And strangle commerce, making every organic apple not grown in Brooklyn more expensive for the consumer! Forward Comrades!
Aug. 6, 2014, 8:33 am
John from Ditmas Park says:
I support the change and I think it will make Flatbush safer however as a semi-regular driver on Flatbush I believe the two biggest safety problems are: 1) Dollar Vans. They are great, cheap transportation and I've used them in a pinch myself a few times over the years but many of the drivers take unnecessary risks driving very fast and darting in and out of lanes with horns blaring. 2) Pedestrians crossing mid-block, frequently not paying attention to the traffic. Sometimes after dark and wearing dark colors so they are very hard to see! Sometimes with young children. I'm an attentive driver and do not speed, and multiple times I've come within inches of hitting pedestrians that suddenly popped out mid-block between two parked--or double-parked--cars. I'm a frequent pedestrian too so I get it, but please people, be safe and use the cross-walk on arterial streets!
Aug. 6, 2014, 8:39 am
ty from pps says:
Rufus --
You do know that companies like UPS and FedEx embrace and support congestion pricing in cities like London. A toll is A LOT cheaper than being stuck in interminable traffic jams and having to operate additional trucks (or limit distribution).

Get the big chunk of unnecessary personal vehicles off the road and you have more room for apple trucks making deliveries.

But, Rufus, you probably also think pedestrian plazas *celebrated* by small business owners and parking spots replaced by loading zones and bike corals *requested by the businesses* are also "stifling commerce." Hmmm?
Aug. 6, 2014, 8:45 am
Jodi from Rockaway says:
The problem on Flatbush Ave. isn't speeding cars. The problem is double and triple parked cars and the dollar vans. Flatbush Ave. is so congested with double parked cars and these dollars vans that it impossible to drive the current speed limit. The dollar van drivers have no regard for the cars around them. The are reckless and dangerous. Why not start a ticket blitz on them?
Aug. 6, 2014, 9:08 am
ty from pps says:
No, Jodi... No More "ticket blitzes"!!!!

How about the NYPD actually enforce the traffic laws regularly and consistently?! I don't want to hear the NYPD precinct commanders touting how awesome they are with, say, 1,200 tickets one month to get some positive press and then go back to issuing an average of 1 speeding ticket per day for the rest of the year.

I'm so tired of these "blitzes"! The behavior doesn't become magically less dangerous the week after, but it's not going to change if you only have a 0.000000001% chance of getting a ticket.
Aug. 6, 2014, 9:15 am
sid from Boerum Hill says:
speed cameras ticket a lot more than a small percentage. The number is limited by state law and their location as well. remember the hugh and cry last week about the camera for the bus lane? wait until they put a speed camera in one of the 25 mile zones or the 20 mile slow zones....and I asked for one already on park avenue....
Aug. 6, 2014, 10:15 am
Greg from Prospect Heights says:
Dollar Vans are not the problem. Yes, they speed and drive in the parking lane. They are dangerous. However, please give one example where a Dollar Van has killed a pedestrian on Flatbush Ave. The majority of deaths are caused by people driving their personal cars. I cross Flatbush several times a day (at the crosswalk!) and have had many close calls. Drivers seems to think it is ok to speed by you, inches away, when making right turns onto Flatbush. This speed limit change is overdue. I hope it is followed by red light cameras.
Aug. 6, 2014, 10:20 am
ty from pps says:
Sid -- It's AMAZING to witness the irrational reactions by people that *know* they are blatantly breaking the law. Why, exactly, are we supposed to fee sympathy for them when they start feeling the effects of enforcement?

(And we're not talking about driving 32 mph in a 30 zone or not signalling a turn... we're talking about driving in a HUGE REDDISH-BROWN STRIPE with BIG SIGNS hanging over it! Or driving 50 mph on a residential street. Or running stale ref lights at full speed.)
Aug. 6, 2014, 10:27 am
ImFromHere from Park Slope says:
Great first step. I'd reduce it to 20mph if only state laws didn't forbid it. But please, let's actually enforce the new 25mph limit. As well as targeting those reckless dollar vans. I mean, I know guys gotta make a living, but when you're constantly killing bicyclists, running red lights, and terrifying pedestrians who step too close to the curb, then something is very wrong.
Aug. 6, 2014, 11:18 am
ted from ned says:
This is great! One step closer to banning cars.

More bikes!
Aug. 6, 2014, 12:57 pm
Sid from Boerum Hill says:
Buses and trucks tend to be more deadly for pedestrians. Trucks make wide turns with their rear wheels coming close to the curb causing a real problem for people who are taught to wait in the crosswalk near the curb. Too many accidents like that. All parties need to obey the rules, cars, pedestrians and bikes. Lately even when I am in the crosswalk with the light some bike come way to close to me. Yes I know it easier for them to just use the light like a stop sign but lawlessness breeds lawlessness. and before you respond why is ok for bikes but not for cars?
Aug. 6, 2014, 1:04 pm
Mike from Prospect Lefferts-Gardens says:
I love how the conversation is all what is wrong with the vehicles when ALL parties are at fault. NYC has a TRAFFIC problem. With over 8 million people and counting, from pedestrians, to bikers, to any number of car services(dollar van or taxi) are contributing to the problem.

I don't own a car but I do drive via car sharing companies when I get the chance and a frequent mass transit commuter. The city breeds people to want to speed when more than half your time is spent stuck in traffic, yeah your speeding any chance you get. Bikers are increasingly not obeying traffic laws and pedestrians are reckless in their own right, you vs vehicle, vehicle wins everytime, try using some caution and respect the cars.

And before anyone gets on their soapbox touting then just take mass transit. Let me know when MTA/NYC starts compensating mass transit for the influx of people that keep moving in the city especially in Brooklyn. And its laughable how bad its service is at times, fares go up and yet to see measurable improvements on it in regards to more service and reliability.
Aug. 6, 2014, 2:55 pm
sid from Boerum Hill says:
A fair amount of the tolls are in fact used to subsidize mass transit now. The State has starved the mass transit for years(NY has the highest percentage of operational expenses that comes from the fare in the US). The subways and buses are much better now than 30 years ago. Maintenance has no longer been deferred. It could be better. Its too bad they didn't extend the second avenue subway to Brooklyn but Manhattan is always favored. The 4 BIllion used for the fulton street subway hub(no subway just a bigger station) could have been much better spent on an extension but that would have benefited Brooklyn...over Manhattan. and yes I complained about it at the time.
Aug. 6, 2014, 4:12 pm
Rufus Leaking from BH says:
". . .why is ok for bikes but not for cars?"

Because they are saving the world for the polar bears!

Bikers are better than the rest of us.
Aug. 6, 2014, 5:43 pm
Mike from Williamsburg says:
You are correct, Rufus. Bikers are better than motorists. There is no possible way to evaluate the morality, including the economic morality, of the options and not conclude that bikers are better than motorists.

Motorists are basically well-off thieves who steal both public space for their private use and public clean air for their private laziness.
Aug. 6, 2014, 5:59 pm
Sean from Crown heights says:
Yes, lets change the speed limit to 25 on Flatbush and Atlantic, but keep it 30 on all the small side streets. That makes sense. As long as I can go 40 down Bergen, who needs Atlantic? The DOT is so F'ing backwards. There is no enforcement! Hello!?
Aug. 6, 2014, 7:04 pm
ty from pps says:
Sean -- The 'default' speed limit for the city is going to be 25 mph. But the law is just sitting on the governor's desk waiting for a signature. The DOT is able to lower these arterial streets now because they are going to add "slow zone" signage -- that is part of the current law.

And you should be speaking out to the NYPD about the enforcement, not complaining about the DOT (the only City agency that's even trying).
Aug. 6, 2014, 8:19 pm
Daniel from Lefferts Gardens says:
Sean, the city doesn't currently have the authority to change the default speed limit which applies to small side streets. Albany took that away in the 1960's when they raised the city speed limit to the current 30 mph default. The legislature has passed a bill that will give the city permission to set a 25 mph default speed limit and allow the city to set a speed limit on most streets between 25 mph and 50 mph that Cuomo promises to sign someday. But currently the city DOT is very constricted in what it can do. The DOT is also not permitted to do much enforcement, only 20 speed cameras are currently authorized and they can only ticket cars going 10 mph or more over the speed limit directly in front of a school entrance during regular school hours. The NYPD can do more enforcement, but this is very expensive and much more dangerous than most people realize. A cop was shot dead a couple blocks from my house at a "routine traffic stop" not too long ago.
Aug. 6, 2014, 8:22 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Honestly, I don't see how lowering speed limits will make the streets any safer. As long as you still have those who are jaywalking, they will get hit no matter what the speed limit is. Also, since the police hardly enforces the current speed limit, I don't see how lowering it will make it any different. As for those cameras, they aren't designed for safety, they are designed for revenue purposes. In other words, if many do slow down for them, not much money can be made for it, and they will be seen as net money losers. In reality, if you really want safe streets, then all groups need to play their role, not just one group in particular.
Aug. 6, 2014, 8:55 pm
ty from pps says:
Tal, sweetie... shhh.
Aug. 7, 2014, 6:46 am
f the car laws from brooklyn says:
The problem with the street laws is that they are car laws, meant to slow everyone else down so that the affluent minority of car owners can get above a crawl in the city, where they really don't belong

The best answer is lower the speed limit to 10 mph and require cars to yield to pedestals and cyclists at all times with strong penalties if a collision occurs.
Aug. 7, 2014, 9:13 am
f the car laws from brooklyn says:
(Also, f autocorrect.)
Aug. 7, 2014, 9:14 am
One Over Par from Ephrata says:
One reason that NYC DOT and City Hall were in favor for lowering the city wide speed limit, is that a pedestrian has a better chance surviving an impact from a motor vehicle that is traveling at 25 mph opposed to a M/V traveling at 30 mph. Educate all parties that share the streets. Motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians.
Aug. 7, 2014, 9:24 am
Scott from Park Slope says:
Reducing speeds on Flatbush is welcome. Drivers go crazy fast on that road, especially between GAP and Ocean Ave. One speed camera on that stretch would quickly impress those who race there. The ticket proceeds could go toward measures used in other countries, like pedestrian overpasses, to reduce collision risks between pedestrians and cars on arterial roads. It has always perplexed me why NYC can place such things in places like the FDR but not on roads like Flatbush or Queens Blvd where they are so obviously needed.
Aug. 7, 2014, 1:20 pm
Tim Barnes from Grand Army Plaza says:
Ticket proceeds will go where they always go - into the general fund. Tickets and taxes never go anywhere near an earmarked fund. Pedestrians ignore overpasses unless there is no choice.

Have there been any increase in vehicle to vehicle accidents, or are they vehicle to pedestrian/bike riders? We need those statistics. If there is no increase in v to v accidents, then there needs to be enforcement / education to the pedestians standing in the street when the light is against them, or those texting and walking or riding bicycles while wearing heardphones of ear buds.

The only legitimate statistic then would be the people in crosswalks struck by turning vehicles, only a few accidents are cars on the sidewalk.

Otherwise Vision Zero is a fake, meant to make you feel good, collect some fines, and make a politican point to a do nothing program as an acomplishement. Theater for the masses.
Aug. 7, 2014, 1:59 pm
ty from pps says:
Tim -- These statistics exist and are available, thanks to safer street advocates forcing the city gov't (especially the NYPD) to share their data. But, I'm glad you have chosen to go with the NY Daily News / Post methodology and just say inflammatory things and make it sound like the data are mysterious. VisionZero and DOT efforts are based on data and traffic engineering science, not whim. While the "zero" part of VisionZero is a bit of a pipe dream, it's not fake.

By the way, the statistics for all collisions have gone down slightly over the past few years.... but we're still talking about a massive number of crashes. There were 203,390 motor vehicle crashes in the city during 2013 -- or 557 *every day* !! These resulted in a pedestrian DEATH every other day. If you add in the vehicle drivers and passengers that were killed, we have a figure that is basically on par with the city's murder rate! And on top of that, motor vehicle crashes also resulted in an average of 33 pedestrian injuries *every* day.

So, yeah. You don't need to see an increase to see that action is necessary.
Aug. 7, 2014, 4:04 pm
Tim Barnes from Grand Army Plaza says:
So it is theater, if the numbers have gone down, the campaign gives the impression that things are worse.

Just checking what the crusade was really about.
Aug. 7, 2014, 4:57 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
I have seen numerous cases where a pedestrian got hit mainly because they were actually placing themselves into harm's way, and the same implies with cyclists. As long as they don't play their part, they will get hit no matter what the speed limit is. If collisions are down, then why even think of reducing the speed limits? Shouldn't that be more of a reason to not do that? Then again, the ever biased anti-car fanatics always want motorists to have the royal screw job. Keep in mind that I did say all of this at a Vision Zero hearing a few months ago, and I was applauded for saying that, not booed.
Aug. 7, 2014, 7:51 pm
Or from Yellow Hook says:
Looks like the truth was flushed about the program.
Aug. 8, 2014, 8:26 am
TOM from Sunset Park says:
My favorite Irish speed limit signs are on the Connemara road west along Galway Bay. It's a two-lane blacktop going through small villages and has a 60 km/h limit(45mph?). I turn off at Spiddel onto a side-road that is as wide as a driveway with loose-stone walls at either side, and was only recently paved. There in front of me are two speed signs: 80 km/h. It's a grand country.
Aug. 8, 2014, 2:07 pm
sid from Boerum Hill says:
60km is about 36mph and 80km is about 48mph..FYI
NY's unmarked up state limit is 55mph about 90KM
Aug. 8, 2014, 4:53 pm
Sid from boerum hill says:
the governor announced he will sign the 25mph NYC limit next week. It goes into effect 90 days later.
Aug. 8, 2014, 7:19 pm

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