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The De-Evolution of a DOT Slow Zone in Three Easy Steps

February 5, 2015

If culture eats policy for breakfast, what does this example of DOT policy do to the culture of reckless driving?

As Brad Aaron at Streetsblog reported, the Department of Transportation has “DOT has watered down some Slow Zone features,” partly in response to complaints about losing a handful of parking spaces and also as a result of Slow Zone signs being “hit and damaged at an unsustainable rate.” A robust gateway treatment is essentially the defining feature that is meant to a) distinguish a “Slow Zone” from a neighboring “Do Whatever You Want Zone” and b) slow down drivers as they turn corners. Remove the gateway treatment and, lacking other traffic calming features such as chicanes, the Slow Zone is more of a Suggestion Zone. If drivers even see the sign, that is.

Here’s an example from Union and Bond Street in Brooklyn. This is the Slow Zone gateway as it existed in October 2013:

slowzone

Here it is in August 2014. It’s clearly been hit by a driver:

slowzone2

And here’s that same “gateway” in October 2014:

slowzone3

Basically, in the span of just one year, DOT gave up. That says something about its institutional culture, doesn’t it? But scroll back up through this post again. If you start in October 2014 with the sign on the sidewalk and end with the sign in the street, that’s the progression you’d want to see as far gateway design is concerned. And once that sign has been planted in the street, like a settler’s flag claiming land for the Kingdom of Pedestrians, you’d want to start moving toward a gateway design that looks something like this:

gateway

Design eats culture for breakfast.

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4 Comments
  1. Ed Throckmorton permalink
    February 5, 2015 12:52 pm

    Doesn’t look like the sign was hit – no damage to the base, bent pole…looks to me like it was pushed or pulled to the side by human hands. The problem here is with the design – although they are heavy, they are non-permanent. They should be cemented in.

  2. February 5, 2015 1:50 pm

    Nothing gives pedestrians confidence like seeing caution signs smashed to bits by careless traffic.

  3. February 5, 2015 3:23 pm

    By the way, thumbs up to the guy giving thumbs up to the Google Streetview car in that last picture.

Trackbacks

  1. What Slow Zone Gateways Could Look Like | Streetsblog New York City

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