UPTOWN SAFETY ADVOCATES CALL ON NYC DOT TO REOPEN SLOW ZONE DECISION, AS PEDESTRIAN DEATH OCCURS IN AREA WITHIN DAYS OF APPLICATION'S REJECTION
(New York, NY) - Senator Adriano Espaillat, Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, Gabriela Rosa, advocacy group Families for Excellent Schools and parent activists called on the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) to reconsider its decision to reject their slow zone application and make critical pedestrian safety improvements along Audubon Ave in Upper Manhattan.
Coming only days after the slow zone's rejection, a pedestrian was killed at 4:30 am this morning as a result of a reckless hit and run driverwithin the boundaries of the rejected slow zone. Parents and young students at the multiple schools housed at 586 W 177th Street were forced to view the victim as they entered the building this morning.
Submitted this May, the application called for the creation of a slow zone stretching down the entirety of Edgecombe and Audubon Avenues, and the avenues within between them from 165 - 171th streets. Espaillat, Rodriguez, Rosa and Families for Excellent Schools also collected hundreds of signatures from parents, educators and other community members in favor of the slow zone. Earlier this week, supporters of the application were notified that DOT had rejected the application.
Of the 70 slow zone applications submitted in this round, only 15 were rejected. Transportation safety advocates have called for the number of slow zone projects to be dramatically increased, given the significant demand and the up to three-year lag in their implementation.
"These streets have seen too many close calls, and too many preventable tragedies," said Senator Adriano Espaillat. "We need pedestrian safety measures now, before more lives are lose. I am shocked that DOT has rejected the slow zone application for an avenue lined with schools and kids. I urge DOT to immediately reconsider this decision - this is one of the most dangerous locations in the city for pedestrians. Drivers exiting the George Washington Bridge or Cross Bronx Expressway race through our neighborhood, and speed bumps and other measures would stop them from accelerating down Audubon Ave unchecked. The shocking death of an innocent pedestrian that hundreds of young kids had to witness today is the last straw."
"This tragic hit-and-run, less than a block from a school building, truly hits home for the people of Washington Heights, particularly when so many have raised the issue of high speeds in the area to the Department of Transportation," said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez. "It is so easy for deaths such as these to be avoided. We have said it before and we will say it again, a slow zone is desperately needed on the eastern side of Broadway, an area dense with schools and churches. I hope the DOT will now reconsider their recent decision to deny an application for a slow zone near the location of this terrible tragedy."
"Any time someone dies an avoidable death occurs in this area, the community is tremendously shaken," said Assembly Member Gabriela Rosa. "It is past time that we enforced the speeds of drivers in the area and take all measures to slow drivers down, particularly around schools. The need for a slow zone in this area has been raised before and I add my voice to the call so that we can avoid these tragedies in the future."
"Parents, teachers and our neighborhood's elected officials have been working together to make this area safer for our kids," said Families for Excellent Schools Washington Heights Organizer Mary Melendez. "Parents were horrified to expose their kids to this scene. Our community is united in calling on DOT to rethink their decision to deny this slow zone application."