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.
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:
October 25, 1919
There the Fast Riding Motorists Open Their Throttles Wide
TO THE EDITOR OF THE SUN—Sir: 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.