New York City announces new 'slow zones' to reduce pedestrian deaths

New York City has announced a new round of slow zones as part of Mayor Bill de Blasio's "Vision Zero" program to cut down the number of pedestrian deaths.

The latest phase of the plan involves slowing down traffic on 14 major roadways with new 25-mph zones.

The next round began Monday with Jerome Avenue in the Bronx between East 161st Street to Bainbridge Avenue, with speed limits reduced by 5 mph and new signs indicating the change. Five people have died there in the last four years measured.

Speed limits will also be reduced to kick off the work week along Seventh Avenue from Central Park South to 11th Street in Manhattan.

Additional roadways include Coney Island Avenue, Utica Avenue, Flatbush Avenue and the Flatbush Avenue Extension in Brooklyn; Roosevelt Avenue and Metropolitan Avenue in Queens; Victory Boulevard in Staten Island; Seventh Avenue, Amsterdam Avenue, Bowery, Houston Street, Park Avenue and Avenue of the Americas in Manhattan; and Third Avenue in the Bronx.

In total, speeding will be reduced on more than 65 miles of major corridors that have seen 83 fatalities.

"Slow Zones are a critical and widely endorsed element of Vision Zero," DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said. "We are glad to work closely with local communities in bringing these life saving measures to corridors across the City. These 14 additional zones meet another goal we set in February."

The stretch of Broadway with new limits will include the area around West 95th and West 96th streets, where there have been four traffic deaths within a two-block radius this year.

Across the city there are 27 new slow zone streets, where the speed limit is 25. That seems to be having a big impact on pedestrian deaths.

Last year in the first seven months, 91 died, hit by a car or truck. This year it's down to 70, a 24% drop.

Transportation experts aren't celebrating yet. They want more data from a longer period of time. But so far they admit, the news is promising.

"Obviously I think we're hoping all the work we're doing around the city..the education, the enforcement, the street re-designs, are paying off and making it safer," said Trottenberg.

Even drivers told us they like the idea of slower zones, especially on such busy streets.

"I think it's worth it. There' s a lot of intersections here and a lot of people coming in and out of the highway and you can enter in the same place so I don't think it's a bad idea to slow it down. It needs to be controlled," said driver Natalie Then.

With new rules comes more enforcement, and in the first few months, the number of speeding tickets jumped by 32 percent. "It's not a gotcha game. It's not a revenue raising game. It is to help educate people. Part of the way to educate people is when they get that fine it sticks in their mind and it encourages them to change their behavior," said Trottenberg.

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