20 MPH Slow Zone for Inwood: A Century in the Making


In June of 2012 the Department of Transportation announced a plan designating parts of Inwood a slow zone. According to the DOT,  neighborhood slow zone programs typically reduce speed limits from 30 mph to 20 mph and provide safety measures, such as speed bumps, to force drivers to slow down.

Proposed Inwood Slow Zone, Source: New York Department of Transportation.

The plan which calls for at least ten new speed bumps and 20 mph speed limit signs comes after years of complaints by area residents that speeding vehicles create dangerous conditions for pedestrians; especially children.

217th Street resident Dave Thom, who submitted the proposal in February, recently told DNAinfo.com, “It’s a lovely spot, but the roads are hilly and narrow and tempting to speeders and toll-dodgers,” he said, referring to drivers who cut through the neighborhood to avoid paying a toll on the Henry Hudson Bridge.

Various individual requests and measures for improvements have failed to make headway over the years,” he added. “But a comprehensive neighborhood wide program like this to reduce speed and deter traffic might be the answer residents have been looking for.

So just how long have the residents of Inwood demanded safeguards against sometimes aggressive driving?

Nearly a century.

To put things into historical perspective, let’s take a look at a letter to the editor of the New York Sun written by a concerned Inwood resident in 1919:

Inwood Speedways, The Sun, October 25, 1919.

Inwood Speedways
The Sun
October 25, 1919

There the Fast Riding Motorists Open Their Throttles Wide

TO THE EDITOR OF THE SUNSir: Just why so many automobiles use the highways of Inwood as speedways is a mystery to people living in the district.  They menace the children who play in the streets and who have a feeling of security that is unknown to the little ones living in more congested districts.

It appears as if many drivers of high powered cars have reserved their speed for Inwood and they are showing the residents of the district just how fast their machines can travel and still keep four wheels on the ground.  They are also showing that a child or an adult has no possible chance of escaping injury or death if he be unfortunate enough to wander into the path of a fast moving machine.

Vermilyea avenue and Dyckman street are two thoroughfares that seem to lure the drivers of cars on to their best efforts. The reason is that Vermilyea avenue runs parallel with Broadway and the traffic is sometimes so heavy on Broadway that many drivers swing east into Vermilyea avenue and drive along the thoroughfare. Of late there have been many near accidents and mothers have become so apprehensive that they refuse to allow their children out of sight.

Dyckman street is a trap for pedestrians who try to cross without great caution.  High powered cars glide by in a cloud of dust and a rush of air.

NEW YORK, October 24.    RESIDENT.

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  1. What a good project!

    One important suggestion: please include a speed bump on Seaman Avenue between 215th and 218th Streets. This location is just as important to slow vehicles on Seaman Avenue going toward the 218th Street corner as the speed bump on 218th Street is for vehicles going to the same corner. In spite of signs at this corner, drivers are always tempted and frequently act to make a swift turn without a full stop, endangering pedestrians.

    James Addiss, R.A., Ph.D.
    Resident and board member at 100 Park Terrace West, Apt. 2-B

  2. How about changing the alternate Side of the Street parking rules? Why do we have to move the cars four days a week? Why do they only change it once or twice a week in Kingsbridge and Riverdale? It would cut down on the morning traffic looking for parking especially as children are walking to school!


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