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Group Hopes to Make Prospect Heights a "Slow Zone"

DOT designation would mean 20 mph speed limit, speed bumps and other changes.

Tired of seeing cars zooming down Carlton and speeding around corners near the Underhill Playground, a group of neighborhood activists hope to turn Prospect Heights into a “Neighborhood Slow Zone.”

The designation would be granted by the Department of Transportation, which began offering neighborhoods the option to apply for it this winter after doing a pilot program in the Claremont section of the Bronx.  

The Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council is spearheading the effort in conjunction with block associations, parents groups and other area organizations, and has launched an online petition to demonstrate resident support, a requirement of the application process.

The petition went live yesterday morning, and as of 3:10 p.m. today, 142 people have signed it.

“We receive complaints all the time about dangerous driving on these narrow residential streets,” said Danae Oratowski,PHNDC’s chairwoman.

The problem has gotten worse since ground broke at Altlantic Yards began, which has spurred more cars to drive through Prospect Heights to avoid the construction, she said.

The intersection of Prospect Place and Underhill right at the playground is particularly dangerous, Oratowski said. 

In August, a three-car accident there  and caused a car to jump the curb, nearly hitting four children and their babysitter, said Julie Quigley, whose child was among them. 

But accidents abound on the residential streets. In December, a  at Vanderbilt and Park Place (though Vanderbilt wouldn't be affected by the zone, Park Place would be). In October,  at the same intersection. In May, a  on Classon Avenue at Park Place (one block outside of the proposed zone in Crown Heights). Also in May there was a .

If the neighborhood wins the designation, the following measures would be put in place to reduce traffic speeds:

  • the speed limit would be reduced from 30 to 20 mph
  • speed bumps would be installed (the exact number to be determined with community input)
  • signs and “gateway” striping at the boundaries of the neighborhood would alert drivers to the zone (see photo of what it would look like here).

Flatbush, Atlantic, Vanderbilt, Washington and Sixth avenues would not be included in the slow zone, though Carlton and Underhill would be. (Editor's Note, Jan. 30: The Eastern Parkway Service Road between Washington and Plaza has been added to the proposed slow zone).

In addition to DOT approval, the designation must also get the OK from Community Board 8.

While most people are likely to support the reduction of speed limits in the neighborhood, there is a downside: each gateway would mean a loss of two parking spaces.

Will drivers obey the lower speed limit?

After Slow Zones were installed in London, those spots had 42% fewer injuries than average, and driver speeds were reduced by 9 mph, according to the DOT.   

Jason Boone January 12, 2012 at 03:35 PM
That May U-Haul accident was actually on Classon.
Amy Sara Clark January 12, 2012 at 05:15 PM
Jason, That's right, my mistake. The original article was correct but I made the error when writing this one up. I really appreciate the correction and have fixed it now. Amy
Melissa Clark January 28, 2012 at 07:39 PM
More signatures are needed on the online petition (http://www.phndc.org/slowzone), so if you haven't signed, it's really important for the neighborhood. Let's at least make it harder for those who shoot down Bergen at 50 miles an hour. It's scary.
CH Deniz March 06, 2012 at 01:36 AM
I think this is a really good idea. I cringe every time I walk by the corners of Classon/ Sterling and Classon/ St. John's because of the obvious evidence of cars jumping the sidewalks and slamming into things: the traffic light post that was knocked down and laid on the corner for months; the iron fence with a huge dent in it around St. Teresa's de Avila church, the strange little red post with the pretty graphic bent and warped from being crashed into. All I think is what if people had been standing on those corners when those vehicles jumped the curb? People who treat Classon Avenue like a speedway and wield there car like it's some god-given right to be reckless should remember that they could be only a second away from killing themselves (which matters less to me, frankly, if they drive so recklessly) but more importantly committing manslaughter. I mean, come on, this is a residential area in the middle of a huge city with kids playing on the sidewalk, parents and strollers, bikers, skateboarders, people just walking around. Classon is NOT Atlantic Avenue but people go hurtling down the street like it is, thinking that they're in total control of a few tons of steel. But, corner after corner of Classon Avenue tells a different story, the story of a lot of overconfident drivers making lots of reckless and PREVENTABLE mistakes. Have some respect for human life and SLOW THE EFF DOWN.

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