Vision Zero comes to Greenpoint
By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero initiative has come to North Brooklyn.
On Tuesday, Polly Trottenberg, commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) announced that McGuinness Boulevard in Greenpoint has been designated as an “Arterial Slow Zone,” a move that reduces the speed limit on the two-lane thoroughfare to 25 mph.
The safety measure, aimed at reducing the number of traffic accidents on the busy street, is part of the de Blasio Administration’s Vision Zero plan, an effort to eliminate traffic fatalities on city streets by the year 2024.
Between 2008 and 2013, four people were killed in accidents on McGuinness Boulevard, according to the DOT.
The 25 mph speed limit will be installed on a 1.1-mile stretch of McGuinness Boulevard that runs from Freeman Street to Bayard Street.
“Vision Zero is creating safer streets along the entire length of McGuinness Boulevard,” Trottenberg said in a statement. “Safety has been a long-standing community concern and the Arterial Slow Zone will help reduce dangerous driving, injuries and deaths."
Vision Zero is a multi-faceted initiative that includes reducing the speed limit in certain parts of the city, assigning additional cops to highway units, and educating the public on pedestrian safety.
De Blasio announced the creation of the program in January, shortly after he took office. The mayor said at the time that vehicular crashes are the leading cause of death among New Yorkers younger than 14 and are the second leading cause of death among senior citizens.
McGuinness Boulevard offers motorists access to the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway from Greenpoint and Queens. The roadway is notorious for speeding, according to Assemblyman Joseph Lentol (D-North Brooklyn), who represents the area.
According to a study by Transportation Alternatives, 66 percent of motorists on McGuinness Boulevard travel over the speed limit.
Trottenberg was joined by local elected officials, including Lentol, state Sen. Daniel Squadron (D-Brooklyn Heights-Greenpoint), and Councilman Stephen Levin (D-Greenpoint-Williamsburg), all of whom represent the area.
“I have been advocating for traffic calming measures along McGuinness Boulevard for quite some time now, with little success. This is the first indication that Vision Zero is making its way into Greenpoint. I applaud DOT Commissioner Trottenberg and Mayor de Blasio’s approach to improving the safety of motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists through Vision Zero and I hope that this is only the beginning,” Lentol said.
DOT will begin installing the new “Slow Zone” signs on May 12. The installation should be completed by the end of May, officials said.
Under the “Arterial Slow Zone” program, DOT reduces the speed limit and adjusts the timing of traffic lights along a designated corridor to maintaining crucial vehicular capacity and providing more efficient traffic flows. The locations selected also get increased police enforcement. A hallmark of the program is the distinctive blue-and-white speed limit signage with the name of the corridor.
During the Vision Zero process, town hall meetings are taking place in communities around the city to give residents the opportunity to offer feedback. As the Brooklyn Eagle reported, a Vision Zero town hall took place April 21 in Park Slope sponsored by Councilman Brad Lander (D-Park Slope).
The city might not be done looking at Greenpoint traffic safety. Streets Blog reported that a working group is being formed by DOT and Squadron to look at safety improvements. The group will include representation from Community Board One, non-profits organizations, and elected officials.