Nov. 3, 2014 By Christian Murray
The construction of two “new slow zones” that incorporates about 150 residential streets in Sunnyside and Woodside has begun.
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer held a press conference outside PS 199 to mark the occasion and said that the two slow zones will reduce the speed limit to 20 mph and will, ultimately, save lives.
“We have to make sure that not one young person loses their life on the streets of New York and this is further progress toward that point,” Van Bramer said.
The two slow zones cover two designated sections of the neighborhood. One zone covers about 100 blocks south of Queens Blvd, while the other covers 50 blocks on the northern side of Queens Blvd—including Sunnyside Gardens.
The slow zones are marked by large blue signs that state the 20 mph speed limit. Within a zone, speed bumps and 20 mph markings are on some of the streets.
The two zones were selected by the Department of Transportation after Van Bramer’s office put in a request for them. Van Bramer’s office provided the DOT with details such as the number of crashes in the area—as well as schools and daycare centers.
The zone that covers the south side of Queens Blvd—called the “Sunnyside Slow Zone” –is bound by 36th Street to the west; 51st Street to the east; Queens Blvd to the north; and Laurel Hill Blvd to the south.
Construction started on that zone a few weeks ago and the DOT is adding 20 speed bumps to the existing eight speed bumps. There will be 32 entry points that will be marked by blue 20 mph gateway signs.
The DOT aims to complete the “Sunnyside Slow Zone” before winter sets in.
There have been four deaths in the “Sunnyside” zone since 2007, with many serious injuries, according to the DOT. There are also four schools in the zone.
Meanwhile, construction on the zone that covers the northern section of Sunnyside/Woodside—called the “Sunnyside Garden-Woodside Slow Zone—will not begin until spring.
This zone, which incorporates about 50 blocks, is bound by 43rd Street to the west; Queens Blvd and Roosevelt Avenue to the south; 38th Avenue and Barnett Ave to the north; and 58th Street to the east.
The “Sunnyside Garden-Woodside Slow Zone” will include 17 speed bumps in addition to the 13 that are already there. There will also be 19 entrances to the slow zone that would be marked by the blue 20 mph gateway sign.
Since 2007, there has been one death in that zone, with many people severely injured. Furthermore, there are six schools/daycare centers in the area.
The Department of Transportation claims that the speed zones help reduce injuries and deaths. Its studies indicate that a pedestrian hit at 40 mph only has a 30% chance of surviving, while one hit at 20 mph has a 95% chance of surviving.
Community Board 2 unanimously approved the two speed zones at its September month meeting—although two attendees at the meeting said that the slow zones were not needed and that the blue signs were unattractive—particularly in Sunnyside Gardens.
However, Van Bramer said, the “Best way to keep everyone safe is to slow traffic,” adding that “Nothing is more important than making our streets safer for children, seniors and residents.”
The two Sunnyside/Woodside slow zones are the sixth and seventh zones in Queens.
Meanwhile, starting this Friday Nov. 7, the speed limit on all New York City streets will become 25 mph, unless posted otherwise.