New 'Slow Zones' Make NYC Streets Safer and Greener

This week, New York City opened its first neighborhood slow zone, where slower speed limits make roads more accessible to anyone not in a car.

This week, New York City opened its first neighborhood slow zone, a six-block-square area of the Bronx where the speed limit is now 20 mph, compared to 30 in the rest of the city. Signs declaring the slow zone designation mark the entrances to this area, while "20 MPH" is painted in tall letters at regular intervals on the street as a reminder. Speed bumps help enforce the new rule.

The neighborhood is mostly residential, with a high concentration of schools and a history of injuries and fatalities. The city's transportation commission, Janette Sadik-Khan, spoke at the opening ceremony for slow zone about how it will make the streets safer. But it will also make them greener: slower speed limits make roads more accessible to anyone not in a car.

After the criticism she's endured for her support of bike lanes, Sadik-Khan may not be eager to talk about that advantage of slow zones. But the inspiration for the designation can be traced back to an interest in alternative forms of transportation. One of the most vocal groups advocating for the idea, 20’s Plenty For Us, is based in England, where cities including London have taken up slow zones. Rod King, the group's founder, started promoting the idea of 20-mph speed limit after visiting a German town famous for its bike friendliness. The town didn’t have any particularly fancy bike infrastructure, just a speed limit of 30 kilometers per hour (roughly equivalent to 20 mph).

The real triumph of slow zones is that they acknowledge that streets don't need to be reserved for cars. The more they're used for other forms for transportation, the more people will feel safe trading in one form of wheels for another. In New York, I see people biking, walking, running, skateboarding, scootering, and rollerblading, but mostly on the sidewalks or, now, in bike lanes. Green transportation advocates support measures like traffic calming and slow zones because they open up the streets and indirectly promote the use of alternative forms of transportation.

"You don't need any fancy new electric cars" in order to green transportation, says Mark Gorton, the creator of LimeWire and a transportation activist who’s backed projects like Streetsblog and Transportation Alternatives, the New York advocacy group. "We don’t really have pedestrian streets. We don’t really have tools that actually protect residential neighborhoods from traffic."

The slow zones are a step in that direction. The safer residents feel in their own neighborhoods, the more likely they are to use the streets for activities other than driving. London has 400 of these zones, while the one in the Bronx is the first of many New York City is planning: community boards, business districts, and other neighborhood groups can now apply for the designation. In March, the city will choose among the applications, and by July, the Department of Transportation intends to get to work on more.

Photo via (cc) Flickr user amandabhslater

Ottawa Humane Society / Flickr

The Trump Administration won't be remembered for being kind to animals.

In 2018, it launched a new effort to reinstate cruel hunting practices in Alaska that had been outlawed under Obama. Hunters will be able to shoot hibernating bear cubs, murder wolf and coyote cubs while in their dens, and use dogs to hunt black bears.

Efforts to end animal cruelty by the USDA have been curtailed as well. In 2016, under the Obama Administration, the USDA issued 4,944 animal welfare citations, in two years the numbers dropped to just 1,716.

Keep Reading Show less
via I love butter / Flickr

We often dismiss our dreams as nonsensical dispatches from the mind while we're deep asleep. But recent research proves that our dreams can definitely affect our waking lives.

People often dream about their significant others and studies show it actually affects how we behave towads them the next day.

"A lot of people don't pay attention to their dreams and are unaware of the impact they have on their state of mind," said Dylan Selterman, psychology lecturer at the University of Maryland, says according to The Huffington Post. "Now we have evidence that there is this association."

Keep Reading Show less
via Real Time with Bill Maher / YouTube and The Late Late Show with James Corden / YouTube

A controversial editorial on America's obesity epidemic and healthcare by comedian Bill Maher on his HBO show "Real Time" inspired a thoughtful, and funny, response by James Cordon. It also made for a great debate about healthcare that Americans are avoiding.

At the end of the September 6th episode of "Real Time, " Maher turned to the camera for his usual editorial and discussed how obesity is a huge part of the healthcare debate that no one is having.

"At Next Thursday's debate, one of the candidates has to say, 'The problem with our healthcare system is Americans eat shit and too much of it.' All the candidates will mention their health plans but no one will bring up the key factor: the citizens don't lift a finger to help," Maher said sternly.

Keep Reading Show less

There is no shortage of proposals from the, um, what's the word for it… huge, group of Democratic presidential candidates this year. But one may stand out from the pack as being not just bold but also necessary; during a CNN town hall about climate change Andrew Yang proposed a "green amendment" to the constitution.

Keep Reading Show less
Me Too Kit

The creator of the Me Too kit — an at home rape kit that has yet to hit the market — has come under fire as sexual assault advocates argue the kit is dangerous and misleading for women.

The kit is marketed as "the first ever at home kit for commercial use," according to the company's website. "Your experience. Your kit. Your story. Your life. Your choice. Every survivor has a story, every survivor has a voice." Customers will soon be able order one of the DIY kits in order to collect evidence "within the confines of the survivor's chosen place of safety" after an assault.

"With MeToo Kit, we are able to collect DNA samples and other tissues, which upon testing can provide the necessary time-sensitive evidence required in a court of law to identify a sexual predator's involvement with sexual assault," according to the website.

Keep Reading Show less