Reclaiming the Streets
Speed Humps Arrive - Big First For NYC
Department of Transportation Commissioner Christopher Lynn has taken an historic step by ordering the installation of the first ever speed humps in NYC at nine locations. The humps, to be installed individually or in groups of up to six, are a key traffic calming tool that can be adjusted to slow cars to a specific speed. The humps are currently set to keep speeds at 25 or 30 mph, depending on the location.
Effective and easy to install, speed humps cost about $3,000 apiece, while traffic signals cost at least $35,000 each and do not necessarily reduce speeding. Additionally, humps have been found to reduce through-traffic by up to 50%.
The installation of the humps marks the successful conclusion of two years of legal and bureaucratic wrangling inside DOT. As DOT gains experience with the humps, it may use them to enforce 15 mph slow speed and school zones. If the pilot program meets with community approval, speed humps may become a common sight in the city, as they already are in hundreds of U.S. and European cities and towns.
Speed humps may become a common sight in the city
As far as one can tell, New
York City doesn't have a speed limit. The DOT is notoriously stingy about
installing the $120 signs - so stingy, in fact, that there is fewer than one
speed limit sign for every 11 miles of road. Compare that to Los Angeles,
which has more than one speed limit sign for every half mile of road.
Mayor Guiliani signed the bill into law eight months ago, but the DOT has yet to install the signs. T.A. has written to the DOT, calling on them to make speed limit signs widespread on NYC streets.
Neighborhood Streets Network traffic calming rallies in downtown Brooklyn keep getting bigger and bigger. 120 citizens showed for the July rally at Hicks and Remsen Streets. As we went to press, the August rally in Boerum Hill looked to be even bigger. The September rally will be held in Cobble Hill. Leaders from seven neighborhood associations got together recently to send a letter calling on the city to test traffic calming in their communities.
"Speeder City," a
1993 T.A. study, showed that most police traffic enforcement is done on
highways, not local streets. Although the Police Department is now taking
traffic enforcement far more seriously, speeding is still rampant. The police
have shown little enthusiasm for using innovative technologies like Photo
Radar, a system that allows police officers to issue tickets as fast as one
every half second.
Allan Fromberg, former Assistant Commissioner of the NYC Department of Transportation (DOT), said in February that the DOT would support a new state law allowing speed limits as low as 15 mph. "If they (T.A.) feel strongly on this, we'll partner with them and the community," Fromberg told Manhattan Spirit.
Passing a new law matters because it will allow engineers to design streets for slower speeds. Now, engineers claim they're obliged to design streets for 30 mph traffic-the lowest legal speed limit. Some engineers also argue against 15 mph speed limits because the streets are designed for higher speeds!
If a new legal speed limit is passed, DOT will be able to "traffic calm" streets for slow speeds and install 15 mph speed limit signs.
Yet despite repeated
requests, the DOT refuses to support the slow speed zone bill. DOT officials
have implied that they're not supporting the law because they're afraid of
getting too many neighborhood requests for slow speed zones!