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Berkeley Place residents say speed humps do nothing to stop lead-footed drivers, but shake, rattle, and roll their nerves

Slopers: Dump the humps

WHAT THE TRUCK: Berkeley Place resident Daniel Perlov says a speed hump that the city installed on his block between Seventh and Eighth avenues causes a racket whenever trucks drive over it.
The Brooklyn Paper

It has been a bumpy ride for Slopers who awoke last week to find that a set of speed humps that they thought were gone for good had reappeared.

The pair of safety swells returned on Thursday and neighbors say that cars hitting the hated humps shake their houses and rattle their nerves — and that the city should not have put them there in the first place.

“If there was a school nearby, there would be a good reason, but there’s no good reason,” said retiree John Casson, who is demanding that the Department of Transportation remove the fresh asphalt lumps. “For those of us who feel our houses shaking, it’s a real annoyance.”

Casson and others who live on Berkeley Place between Seventh and Eighth avenues dispute the very traffic-calming premise of the protuberances, saying that they do not slow cars but instead only serve as noise-making ramps for speed demons gunning it to make the light at the Eighth Avenue end of the one-way street.

The hump haters do not deny that speeding is a problem in Park Slope but say that it makes no sense to put big bumps on their block while leaving the one between Fifth and Sixth avenues, which is home to a school and a playground, flat as a pancake on a drag strip.

“I am confused as to why speed bumps were ever placed on this block in the first place,” said Daniel Perlov, a Berkeley Placer who filed a complaint with the Department of Transportation. The activists are circulating a petition calling on the department and local politicians to erase the new paving job, and so far they say they have 44 signatures, but their complaints are likely to fall on deaf ears because not only did the neighborhood’s Community Board 6 approve the 2009 installation of the first set of humps, but it came as a result of block residents documenting speeding and formally requesting them, according to a transportation department spokesman. Nor does there appear to be much support in surrounding Park Slope.

Three civic groups, including the community board, applied to the city’s transportation department in 2011 to make the whole neighborhood an official Slow Zone and, although the transportation department rejected the bid, one Berkeley Place resident wrote in the application that the original speed humps on the street helped to discourage the parade of autos that the author said uses it as a Grand-Army-Plaza-bound alternative to nearby Union Street, and that Berkeley Place’s bike lane makes slowing cars a particular priority there.

And local elected officials are not eager to jump on the dump-the-hump bandwagon.

“Speeding is a problem in Park Slope and throughout New York City, and it is important that we work together to keep New Yorkers safe,” said Matt Ojala, spokesman for local Councilman Steve Levin. “Speed bumps are an important traffic calming measure that reduces speeds and increases safety.”

But one block resident said the key to stopping speeding is not more asphalt, but changing traffic law and how it is enforced.

“The community would be better served if the city lowered the speed limit on all one lane streets throughout the entire neighborhood and then followed up with a concerted effort to enforce the lower speeds,” said Diane Greer. “It seems silly to install speed bumps on a few random residential streets as opposed to addressing speeding on all residential streets in the neighborhood.”

A Slow Zone designation would reduce residential speed limits to 20-miles-per-hour and add traffic-calming measures such as humps. There is also a so-called “Safe Streets Act” before the Council, which would make the speed limit 20-miles-per-hour on residential streets narrower than 60 feet.

Reach reporter Megan Riesz at mriesz@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505. Follow her on Twitter @meganriesz.

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Reader Feedback

Stu from PPW says:
Talk to the 78th precinct about enforcement. They write maybe 1 speeding ticket per month, so good luck with that conversation.
Nov. 25, 2013, 8:50 am
VLM from Park Slope says:
Those aren't even new speed bumps. They've been in place for years but had been removed from the street had been milled. What are these people complaining about?
Nov. 25, 2013, 9:33 am
Resident from Park Slope says:
I don't get this. The speed humps were there before, then the street was repaved. Now they're back and people are complaining?

We have these on my block and they are the only things stopping drivers from speeding from one end to the other. Lord knows the NYPD won't do anything about it.

Very strange complaint. Did these people just move to the neighborhood in the past few months?
Nov. 25, 2013, 9:40 am
Huh? from Brooklyn says:
What? This makes no sense.
Nov. 25, 2013, 10:06 am
BNJ from Formerly of Park Slope says:
The main problem with these minor cross-streets of Park Slope is that they are one way for such long stretches.. This encourages motor traffic to use these dense residential streets to drive from Prospect Park all the way down to 4th Avenue.

I propose making these side streets one way in alternating directions between each avenue. This would reduce speed as well as the volume of traffic on streets such as Berkely Place.

So for example Berkeley place would be one way in one direction between 6th Ave and 7th Ave and it would be one way in the opposite direction between 7th and 8th Ave.

I think this would discourage driving in this heavily residential and pedestrian-dominated neighborhood.
Nov. 25, 2013, 10:16 am
Dmitri F says:
The problem isn't with the humps, it's with the amount of motor traffic. How about campaigning for the city to remove through traffic from the street instead?

Sometimes I wonder what's wrong with people...
Nov. 25, 2013, 10:31 am
Mustache Pete from Fort Greene says:
Sounds like NIMBY to me, only it's their front door. Speed bumps aren't going any where because they can save lives.
Nov. 25, 2013, 2:59 pm

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