RIGHT OF WAY INSTALLS 20 MPH SIGNS IN PROSPECT PARK WEST AFTER DOT REFUSED, AND WHERE 12-YEAR-OLD SAMMY COHEN-ECKSTEIN WAS LATER KILLED BY AUTOMOBILE
On a week when parents and kids took to the streets to rally for pedestrian safety and city council debated restrictions on speed limits city wide, a group of cyclists posted 20 mpd signs along Prospect Park West.
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 driver doing 30 mph.
“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.
|Installing signs and memories of a lost child.|
The memorial for Sammy Cohen-Eckstein.
Photos by bikepeacenyc
“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.”
This week, the city council can move forward with plans to make streets safer by restricting speed limits on streets narrower than 60 feet wide. Hopefully, they will act.
And in the meantime, the people will organize and push back against the idea that one death, any death by car is unacceptable.