Broadway Speed Limit to Drop to 25 MPH From Columbus Circle to Inwood

adsf Photo: Brad Aaron
NYPD transportation chief Thomas Chan, State Senator Adriano Espaillat, DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, Aaron Charlop-Powers and Audrey Anderson of Families for Safe Streets, and City Council Transporation Chair Ydanis Rodriguez Photo: Brad Aaron

The speed limit will be lowered to 25 miles per hour on eight miles of upper Broadway this summer, DOT announced today.

Motorists have killed 22 pedestrians on Broadway from Columbus Circle to W. 220 Street in Inwood since 2008, according to Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, who was flanked by NYPD officials, city and state electeds, traffic violence victims, and street safety advocates in Inwood this morning. Two vehicle occupants also died in crashes on Broadway during that period.

Arterials account for 15 percent of roadways in NYC but 60 percent of pedestrian deaths. The Broadway announcement is the fourth DOT arterial slow zone reveal, after McGuinness Boulevard and Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn and the Grand Concourse in the Bronx. “The number one thing I hear from New Yorkers is that they want us to do something about these arterial streets,” Trottenberg said.

The press conference was held at the intersection of Broadway, Dyckman Street, and Riverside Drive, where DOT is expected to get started this month on a project that will make it safer for pedestrians to cross there. The Broadway slow zone is scheduled to take effect in July.

Trottenberg was joined by Upper Manhattan City Council members Ydanis Rodriguez and Mark Levine, State Senator Adriano Espaillat, new 34th Precinct CO Deputy Inspector Chris Morello, and NYPD Chief of Transportation Thomas Chan.

“Our officers will be out there doing additional enforcement, to make sure that [drivers] are not disobeying our signal lights, our speeds, and that they are yielding to pedestrians who are in marked crosswalks,” Chan said.

Fielding a question from the press scrum, Chan said NYPD is “reaching out” to precincts along arterials, as well as the Patrol Bureau, to “come up with a plan” to improve enforcement, including against violations by motorcyclists, who take over much of Upper Manhattan during warmer months.

However, Chan said NYPD would continue to cede some areas to speeding drivers. “In terms of volume, some streets may not be able to do speed enforcement,” he said.

Despite the installation in 2012 of a 20 mph Slow Zone that covers all of Inwood west of Broadway, as of the end of March the 34th Precinct had issued just 20 speeding summonses in 2014, and local officers ticketed a total of 58 drivers for speeding last year.

“Signage alone is not going to slow cars unless it’s matched with enforcement,” said Council Member Levine. “I hope that we use every tool at our disposal to enforce this lower speed limit.”

As for automated enforcement, Trottenberg said Governor Cuomo is expected to soon sign a bill that would add 120 speed cameras to the 20 the city has now. But since Albany restricts the use of speed cameras to school zones during school days, it’s unclear how effective they will be in helping reduce pedestrian injuries and deaths on Broadway.

Thomas DeVito of Transportation Alternatives called for engineering improvements, such as shorter pedestrian crossings and better bike infrastructure, to accompany the Broadway 25 mph zone. “There is a huge opportunity to bring design changes to ensure that this street better serves the community 24 hours a day,” DeVito said. “We’ve already seen the positive safety gains achieved with redesigns on Broadway below 59th Street. The streets of Northern Manhattan need similar improvements.”

Trottenberg also announced the expansion of the “Reckless Driving Kills” PSA campaign. One of the ads features Audrey Anderson, whose 14-year-old son Andre was killed by a driver while riding his bike in the Rockaways in 2005. Anderson attended today’s event on behalf of Families for Safe Streets, along with Aaron Charlop-Powers, son of Megan Charlop, who was on her bike when she was struck and killed by an MTA bus driver in the Bronx in 2010.

“We want to remind everyone that 10 years is too long” to implement Vision Zero, Charlop-Powers said. “This is a matter of life and death.”