The city’s planned Clinton Hill–Bedford-Stuyvesant slow zone got the thumbs up from Community Board 2 but drew boos from neighboring Community Board 3

Traffic calming vs. traffic causing

The Brooklyn Paper
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Two local panels are at loggerheads over a plan to slow down cars on the streets of Clinton Hill and Bedford-Stuyvesant.

Community boards for the two neighborhoods took starkly different views of the city’s plan to make the area a so-called “slow zone,” with Bedford-Stuyvesant’s Community Board 3 voting against it on Feb. 10, just two days ahead of Clinton Hill’s Community Board 2 delivering a resounding “yea” vote. The arc of history is bending toward slowing auto traffic to save lives, according to the latter board.

“Slow Zones are very popular,” said Hemalee Patel, transportation committee chairwoman for Community Board 2. “They’re just meant to slow cars down.”

Her board overwhelmingly approved the plan, which affects an area bounded by Washington, Lafayette, and Bedford avenues, and Fulton Street. The program would reduce the speed limit to 20 miles per hour and introduce speed humps and special signage announcing the designation.

On the other side of Classon Avenue, however, residents see the plan as misguided, saying that it will only worsen already-awful car clogging on major thoroughfares.

“It’s an overreacti­on,” said Demetrice Mills, president of the Classon Fulgate Block Association. “We don’t have a traffic safety issue in this neighborhood. We have a traffic issue.”

Mills said he took his car out on Classon Avenue to see how it felt driving at 20 miles per hour.

“Bicycles were passing me,” he said. “They were flying by me.”

The test driver, along with members of Community Board 3, say that the go-slow area would dump insult onto the injury already caused by the recent loss of a lane to the new B44 Select Bus Service route, on both Bedford and Nostrand avenues.

“Lots of people spoke out against [the slow zone] at the public hearing,” said Tremaine Wright, chairwoman of Community Board 3. “People were asking how it interplays with all the other changes.”

Board members also asked city bean-counters for data on how the safety measures actually affect injury rates. The city’s presentation of the plan included statistics showing that reduced speeds made roads safer in other countries, but it did not show how it has worked in Boerum Hill, where the policy went into effect two years ago.

The transportation department designated 15 communities in the city for the increased traffic safety measures last year, including Clinton Hill and Bedford-Stuyvesant as one. Neighborhoods were supposedly chosen based on high accident rates, a concentration of schools, and demonstrated support from the community.

The Clinton Hill and Bedford-Stuyvesant slow zone would contain four schools and eight pre-kindergarten and daycare centers and its roads see an average of 62.4 injuries per year, according to the roads agency.

The city will move ahead with the plan despite of the objections raised by Bedford-Stuyvesant residents, leaving some steaming.

“They’re going to do it anyway,” said Mills. “So why even bring it to the community board?”

Reach reporter Matthew Perlman at (718) 260-8310. E-mail him at Follow him on Twitter @matthewjperlman.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Mike from Williamsburg says:
Cars don't get stuck in traffic; cars ARE traffic.

If you don't want traffic, get out of your car. Simple.
Feb. 14, 2014, 9:51 am
Fred from Ft Greene says:
What I read in this article, with the venom about bikes "speeding right past" him, is someone who's mad at himself and other drivers, and somehow jealous of bikes.

Exercise can help with that frustration, BTW...
Feb. 14, 2014, 1:25 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
I am glad that Brooklyn Community Board 3 saw through this slow zone idea, and I will like to give them a round of applause for that rather than believing that it will actually work when it's really a short term idea rather than a long term idea.
Feb. 14, 2014, 8:24 pm
resident from Brooklyn says:
Slow is fast and fast is slow!

20 mph for 1 lane streets
25 mph for 2 lane streets
30 mph for 3 or more lane streets

Make it simple, make it universal, make it safe!

Let Brooklyn set the mark
Feb. 15, 2014, 12:30 am
Parent from Brooklyn says:

Slowing down cars does not cause traffic. These people need to learn the difference between traffic volumes and traffic speeds. If you only had one car going through your neighborhood and forced it to go 20 mph instead of 30, there wouldn't suddenly be more traffic.

Please, leave the traffic engineering to the experts. We don't need to wait for more people to get injured to act.
Feb. 16, 2014, 9:58 am
jay from ny says:
and parent form Brooklyn are you are actual traffic enginer or just a big mouth calling people names behind the safety of your keyboard with no more credibilty than anyone else_
Feb. 16, 2014, 3:06 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
I still find slow zones and any other traffic calming ideas to be nothing more than a joke and selective punishment on motorists especially when there are so many cyclists and pedestrians that never practice what they preach despite telling others to do it.
Feb. 16, 2014, 4:09 pm
Oy from Vey says:
Yes, Tal. Proceeding slowly and carefully to avoid serious injuries to one's self and others is "punishment."
Feb. 16, 2014, 6:02 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
My point is that there will never be safe streets as long as there are other groups that aren't playing their role. In other words, it has to come from all groups, not just one in particular. For example, a pedestrian or cyclists can still get hit by a car or truck even if they were within the speed limit, and that was while one of the other two groups placed themselves into harm's way by flouting the laws themselves. Try looking at the causes for once rather than the effects, because that tells us what really happened.
Feb. 16, 2014, 7:22 pm
Community Advocate from Bedford-Stuyvesant says:
If only we could leave it to the "traffic experts". They arrived at the meeting unprepared and speaking freely. When residents asked questions, they were unable to answer. The "presenter", when questioned, admitted that traffic studies weren't conducted and that the decision to expand the plan after the initial approval from the CB3 Committee was based on feelings and sight, not facts and numbers.

Someone who doesn't drive wouldn't understand Mr. Mills statement. Maybe if you get off of your bike and drive a vehicle, you will see what he means. His comment was made to produce imagery: The traffic is jammed/affected so much now that bikes travel faster than vehicles (most of the time, especially during the "rush hours".)

Signed- Concerned Bed-Stuy Resident
Feb. 17, 2014, 8:47 pm

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