While the borough prepares for the hot days of summer, programs like Summer Play Streets and Neighborhood Slow Zones often become a topic of discussion at board meetings as a possibility for developing a safe environment for kids.
Alan Leung, an active streets advocate at Transportation Alternatives, attended a Community Board 5 meeting last week to discuss the idea and prepare the board for the summer.
“We’re here to help people win these city programs,” Leung told the members of CB5. “We will do our best to help you get what you want.”
Summer Play Streets, a program run and operated by the Police Athletic League since it began in 1914, is designed to temporarily close off streets for one to sometimes five days with the intention of providing a safe environment for children.
Along with a controlled, safe, environment, the program is intended to teach kids to recognize their local police precincts and elected officials.
Leung also presented the Neighborhood Slow Zones program as a viable safety mechanism for neighborhoods with busy and active streets.
The initiative regulates speed to 20 miles per hour and installs signage and cement bollards intended to reduce the flow of traffic.
“Neighborhood slow zones don’t happen unless the community asks for them,” Leung explained.
CB5 chair Vinny Arcuri reminded the board of the negative sides to slow zones.
“We frown on them because you lose parking spaces on both ends of the streets and the massive signage is very obtrusive in the community,” Arcuri said. “Every intersection in a Slow Zone loses at least two parking spaces, and in some of the areas they put up huge concrete bunkers.”
Mayor Michael Bloomberg has long advocated for safer streets and showed his support for Slow Zones on neighborhood streets.
“We’ve driven fatalities and injuries down to record lows through innovative traffic engineering, aggressive enforcement and an unwavering commitment to finding new ways to make our streets safer, as even one fatality is too many,” Bloomberg said of the program last summer.
“We are continuing our assault on the number one traffic killer: speeding. We’ve seen success already where we have installed Slow Zones,” he continued. “We expect safety will improve as speeding is reduced in these communities.