20 Is Plenty



Brooklyn, New York: In its second “gift to the city” after the 6th Avenue Bike Lane Extension, the pedestrian rights group Right of Way has installed 20 mph speed limit signs on Prospect Park West, where the Park Slope Civic Council’s application for a Slow Zone was rejected by City officials last year and 12 year old Park Slope resident Sammy Cohen Eckstein was subsequently killed by a driving going 30mph.

“This road is directly adjacent to a park where children play and then cross the street to go home,” said Benjamin Heim Shepard, organizer with Right of Way and father of two. “There is no reason drivers need to go 30 mph here, or on any residential street in New York City.”

According to the US DOT, pedestrians have only slightly better than an even chance of surviving being struck by a vehicle going 30 mph, compared to a 95% chance of surviving when struck by a vehicle going 20 mph. According to Streetsblog, at least 188 New Yorkers have been killed by automobiles this year, and at least 16 of those have been children.

Right of Way has installed 20mph speed limit signs of the same size, shape, and material as official DOT signs, at regulation height, on every other block along Prospect Park West.

“This is not enough,” said Keegan Stephan, another organizer with Right of Way. “We need complete street redesigns, speed and red light cameras, and vigilant law enforcement to eliminate traffic deaths. But even signs alone can save lives,” he added.

According to State Law,” said Stephan, “the City could lower the speed limit on most of New York City’s streets tomorrow. This would inevitably slow down traffic, allowing the NYPD to focus on people who continue to speed and engage in other life-threatening criminal driving, such as failure to yield.”

“While these signs are not permanent,” said Stephan, “we have put them up to show the City just how easy it is.”

From Amy Cohen, mother of Sammy Cohen-Eckstein: “We urge the City Council and Mayor-elect de Blasio to immediately pass the pending legislation for a citywide 20-mile-per-hour speed limit in all of our residential neighborhoods. Reducing the default speed limit to 20 miles per hour will provide an important margin of error so that many crashes can be avoided and when they do occur, injuries will be significantly reduced.  According to witnesses, Sammy had the light when he entered the crosswalk but it quickly changed and the driver entered the intersection at full speed.  If the van that hit Sammy had been going slower, the driver would have had plenty of time to stop when he saw Sammy’s ball in the street like the car in the next lane that stopped so that Sammy could enter the crosswalk.”



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