October/November 1999, p.12

Speed Hump Backlash: Staten Island CB's Stymie Speed Humps

Speed humps like this could become much rarer on Staten Island if community boards have their way.Staten Islanders, tired of cars tearing through their neighborhood streets, have requested more than 200 speed humps from community boards in the past year. However, in a bizarre instance of something being too popular for its own good, community boards have begun to reject or waylay requests, arguing simultaneously that speed humps slow down traffic too much, and don't really work. Applicants for speed humps in Staten Island now receive a three-page letter from community boards outlining all of the needed 'steps' to obtaining a speed hump. The letter informs the applicant that the DOT must do a site visit, survey vehicle speeds, and solicit comments from Community Boards, the Fire Department, and the Department of Sanitation. Applicants must also submit a petition to the Community Boards with names, addresses, and signatures of all residents on their block and surrounding streets in favor and opposed to speed humps. If those bureaucratic hoops were not discouraging enough, the letter goes on to list several untrue 'negative aspects' of speed humps: that speed humps can cause property damage from vibrations, that speed humps may affect emergency vehicle response time, and that speed humps divert traffic to parallel streets.

This is unfortunately indicative of the situation that NYC residents now face when trying to get speed humps installed in their neighborhoods. After a promising couple of years, the City's speed hump program has deteriorated into bureaucracy and misinformation. The City now has a waiting list of approximately 1200 approved speed hump requests, and is building only 200 a year-almost all around schools. While the prioritization is on target, the City needs to commit more resources to speed humps, and draw up a uniform, transparent application process for all five boroughs, so that neighborhoods that desperately need traffic calming devices can get them within the next five years. Speed humps work, and NYC needs many more of them.

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