Following a particularly deadly year for pedestrians and especially bicyclists in Brooklyn, the City has decided to lower the speed limit from 30 MPH to 25 MPH along 3rd Avenue and Hamilton Avenue in Brooklyn starting sometime in January, but not on January 1st, Department of Transportation spokesperson confirmed. Most streets in the city have a speed limit of 25 MPH.
In particular, the speed restrictions will be in place along 3rd Avenue from Prospect Ave to 62nd St (2.3 miles), and Hamilton Ave from Luquer St to 18th St (1.9 miles). This year there were 6 traffic-related deaths along the 3rd Avenue, a busy truck route, compared to two in 2018.
“The Mayor has asked DOT and NYPD to take aggressive action on this corridor with its challenging mix of residential and industrial uses and heavy traffic on and off the Gowanus Expressway,” said NYC DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg in a statement. “We believe that lowering the speed limit along 3rd and Hamilton Avenues, coupled with strong enforcement, will help calm traffic in the burgeoning neighborhoods of Gowanus, Red Hook and Sunset Park. In 2020, DOT will also install additional roadway engineering and capital improvements to help make this challenging corridor even safer.”
“While we’ve made tremendous progress over the past six years with Vision Zero, there is still undoubtedly more work to do to make our streets safer,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “The recent traffic fatalities have made us even more determined to keep Vision Zero moving forward. We’re increasing our traffic enforcement efforts and lowering the speed limit on two of Brooklyn’s busiest streets to ensure that all New Yorkers arrive home safely for the holidays.”
“For years, residents of Sunset Park have been calling for action as pedestrians and cyclists have been killed by motorists due to an outdated and dangerous transit grid at major roads, like Third Avenue. We are pleased the Mayor has responded, but lowering the speed limit is just the beginning. We need to work together with our city, state, and federal partners to ensure we equitably modernize our infrastructure for all New Yorkers,” said Council Member Carlos Menchaca, whose district includes 3rd Avenue.
The administration pointed out that despite the increase in traffic fatalities this year (215 as of December 22, compared to 203 in all of 2018), it will still likely end as one of the safest years on record.
What is notable is the share of pedestrian fatalities attributed to SUV’s/light trucks. According to DOT data, the share of deadly crashes involving SUVs/light trucks rose from 40% in 2013-17 to 46% since the start of 2018, as SUVs proliferate. As of December 22, 117 pedestrians had been killed in NYC.
It was also a record year for bicycle fatalities – 28 so far, compared to 10 in all of last year. Drivers in Brooklyn killed 17 of those bicyclists (up from 2).
“As we end 2019 with too many tragedies from traffic crash violence — each death stealing the life of a New Yorker and shattering a family — we must rededicate ourselves to the goal of zero fatalities,” said Council Member Brad Lander. “Reducing the speed limits on 3rd Avenue and Hamilton Avenue, where we lost too many lives this year, is a good step. I’m also committed to reaching an agreement with DOT and the Administration early in the New Year on the Reckless Driver Accountability Act. We can’t wait any longer.”