There’s a new group of street-safety promoting sheriffs in town.
Organizers at Right of Way, a street-safety activist group, spent last weekend working with residents of various Brooklyn neighborhoods, including Greenpoint, to install self-made, “Slow Zone” signs throughout the borough of Brooklyn.
Across the borough, 20 signs reading “20 is plenty,” were installed last Saturday and Sunday in 10 neighborhoods, to compel the Department of Transportation (DOT) to create more slow speed zones in the city – where traffic speed is reduced from 30 mph to 20 mph, and to follow up on delivering slow zones that have already been promised.
The group’s do-it-yourself drive stems from residents’ frustration with the city for not taking enough action despite the series of pedestrian accidents that have occurred in North Brooklyn and the rest of the borough in the past few months.
North Brooklyn has seen a spate of horrific traffic deaths since the beginning of this year – including last week’s motorcycle accident that killed Jorge Rios, and the recent death of 21-year-old Marisol Martinez who was run over by a bus at the intersection of Union and Meeker Avenues while returning home at night.
“There are currently dozens of communities that have applied for Slow Zones and await groundbreaking while people are dying,” said Keegan Stephan, an organizer with Right of Way. “These communities knew their streets were dangerous and asked the city to fix them, but were told no or not yet by the last administration. The DOT must use the mandate of Vision Zero to revoke the veto power of community boards and begin installing life-saving infrastructure today.”
City electeds led by Councilmembers Antonio Reynoso and Stephen Levin have asked Mayor de Blasio to make North Brooklyn a top priority as part of the Vision Zero plan, which aims to completely eradicate traffic-related deaths by 2024.
Last year Williamsburg led the city for most number of traffic deaths with eight reported within a single year according to I Quant NY, an online Data Analysis tool which studied the police department’s crash data for its study.
Local electeds are supporting the efforts of the street activists as well.
“The work Right of Way is doing to improve the safety of pedestrians, cyclists and motorists is commendable,” said Assemblyman Joe Lentol. “We all need to work together to save lives and The Right of Way’s advocacy is certainly leading us in the right direction.”
The transportation department however maintained that slow zones are one of the administration’s top priorities.
“Safety is DOT’s number one concern,” said Nicholas Mosquera, a spokesperson for the DOT. “As noted throughout the Vision Zero report and reiterated in recent testimony at Transportation Committee hearings, DOT is committed to installing additional Slow Zones and working with stakeholders across the City and in Albany to lower New York City’s speed limit and make our streets safer for everyone using them.”
Safety advocates like right of way are looking to speed up that process to prevent further deaths and injuries.
The location of the signs in Greenpoint, and in other neighborhoods is being kept confidential to prevent them from being taken down by the City.