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Drive Like Your Kids Live Here

January 15, 2014
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Fourth Avenue and Baltic Street.

A couple of months ago, after stumbling upon the website for Drive Like Your Kids Live Here, I purchased two of their signs. I wasn’t sure what I would do with them, and then I read about the advocacy group Right of Way’s installation of 20 mph speed limit signs along Prospect Park West. Inspired by their guerrilla activism, I took my two signs and affixed them to posts on the Fourth Avenue median.

Despite a fantastic traffic calming project along most of Fourth Avenue through Park Slope, drivers still treat the boulevard like a highway. The particular stretch where I live, which happens to include the new PS 133 building, received some curb extensions and left-turn bans, but still retains three northbound traffic lanes. This was meant to prevent traffic from backing up to 9th Street and beyond during the morning rush, but it has had the effect of allowing drivers to continue speeding during the 22 other hours of the day.  Even when the traffic is congested, drivers constantly block crosswalks, make dangerous u-turns, and otherwise show a general disregard for the people who live on or near Fourth and must cross it on foot.

Signs won’t change much — and these signs might not last long now that I’ve finally posted about them — but in the absence of meaningful police enforcement and with conditions that threaten your children and neighbors every day, what would you do to tell drivers who are just passing through to be more careful?

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Fourth Avenue and Butler Street, with PS 133 in the background.

 

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6 Comments
  1. Douglas John Bowen permalink
    January 15, 2014 3:32 pm

    This parent, rail advocate, and bike ally both approves of and admires the actions taken as outlined, and laments the fact that we so often have to play the “kids card” in hopes of moving the meter at all. It’s something I personally resist, but I’d be pushing it to say I’ve never used the gambit myself. Hope the signs help, for however long they last.

  2. Arbuckle permalink
    January 15, 2014 3:33 pm

    This is a brilliant move, but I’m uncomfortable with actions like these – and many of the recent vigils and government speeches – that take the family/moral panic approach to traffic safety. It saddens me that this is the way to make change, to basically be Maude Flanders shrieking to “save the children”, rather than argue that we all deserve safe streets (esp given that seniors are killed more than most) no matter if we have kids, don’t have kids, etc. Not everything needs to be framed as a “preserve the normative family”.

    • January 15, 2014 4:19 pm

      Thanks for the comment. It’s a great one, and one I struggle with all the time as an advocate. To be clear, I believe that everyone deserves safe streets, no matter their age or family status. But even in bike-friendly Amsterdam, it took the Stop de Kindermoord campaign to turn around decades of auto-centric planning.

      https://bicycledutch.wordpress.com/2013/12/12/amsterdam-children-fighting-cars-in-1972/

      I do agree that we can’t always draw from the “Think of the children” well, but since I’m a father that just happens to be my personal perspective.

    • January 15, 2014 4:33 pm

      Good comment – I hadn’t thought of things from that perspective before. It’s just hard to put what you suggest on a sign drivers can read and comprehend at 45 MPH.

      It seems we as a society put more value on children’s lives, probably because we don’t yet know (and in some sad cases, will never know) their full potential. Thus there’s more of an emotional appeal available, even to those who don’t have kids.

  3. January 15, 2014 11:16 pm

    Discussed the “Baby on Board” sign with a friend as we biked North on 4th Ave on Sunday. He figures we could all have a “Human on Board” sign.

  4. January 20, 2014 12:32 am

    I would love to put a couple of those signs on my front lawn, but my wife would never let me. We’re renting on a no-outlet street that is well known for having a lot of young families, yet drivers operate at a speed, well, not unlike how they drive everywhere else: as fast as they can get away with. Most of these drivers are the parents of the children on this street.
    I agree that it’s sad we have to play the kid card, but it’s the most effective one.

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