Key State Senator Tony Avella Opposed to 20 MPH Speed Limit Bill

State Senator Tony Avella is opposed to legislation that would lower the default speed limit in NYC to 20 miles per hour.

Tony Avella believes some NYC neighborhoods prefer faster, more dangerous traffic.
Tony Avella believes some NYC neighborhoods prefer faster, more dangerous traffic.

He’s also against lowering the speed limit to 25 mph on Northern Boulevard — where drivers have killed at least seven pedestrians, including two young kids, since 2010. That’s supposed to happen this month as part of DOT’s arterial slow zone program. Avella sent a letter to Mayor de Blasio and other electeds asking that the city refrain from making any changes on Northern Boulevard until there is “community input,” a spokesperson said.

As a member of the Independent Democratic Conference that, along with Republicans, controls the Senate, Avella could help get the 20 mph bill passed. Streetsblog spoke with Avella today. Here’s what he had to say.

We’re calling to see what your position is on 6496, the bill that would make the default speed limit in New York City 20 miles per hour.

I certainly agree with the intention of the bill. I’ve actually been fighting with the Department of Transportation to make the streets and city of New York much safer going back to my days in the City Council, when I actually had a piece of legislation to try and reform the way the agency approves street lights and all four-way stop signs.

The concern I have about the way the current bill is constituted is making it the default 20 miles per hour across the entire city, and making communities then have to petition the city to raise the speed limit in certain areas, whether it’s Northern Boulevard or Queens Boulevard, back to 30 miles per hour. I actually met with [Families for Safe Streets, which went to Albany last week], and I basically told them the same thing. It’s so difficult to get the Department of Transportation to approve anything these days, I can’t see making communities go back to them to get a speed limit which they already have on major thoroughfares. I’m in total agreement of lowering the speed limit around schools, on quiet residential streets, but I think this is not a cure-all to the problem itself, and I think we need to have a much more comprehensive approach.

And there has to be community input. You cannot just make this across the board without community input. And I think that’s what’s going on. I’ve always been a community person, and I think that this has to be something that people really want to do. And I don’t think because the mayor likes this that we should do it.

Well the effort to do it is pretty much ground-up. The City Council didn’t take this up until they were contacted by people who had lost family members to drivers.

Forgive me for saying this — I’m not in any way deterring from the message that they have — but in all the years I’ve been in office, not one person has ever asked me to lower the speed limit to 20 miles per hour. What they’ve asked for is traffic lights, stop signs, speed bumps, changing the direction of traffic from two-way to one-way streets. Not one person has ever asked me for a 20 miles per hour speed limit.

So my experience in all my years in government is different from the focus of this bill, based upon what people tell me. So to say this is a grassroots effort, an effort from the bottom up, I don’t necessarily agree with that. What I’m saying is, there really has to be community input before we do anything like this. And I don’t think you can make it across the board. I mean we’ve had a law on the books for safety for years, it’s called jaywalking. Everybody does it. I’m just worried if you — plus the fact there’s no community input — I don’t know that we should require communities to petition its own city and its own agency, the Department of Transportation, to get back something they already have, when the agency has been so bad at approving traffic-calming measures.

I just don’t see it at this point, but I’m willing to talk. I’m willing to go along with the core message, which is make streets safer, especially in the residential areas. But I can’t support a bill that makes it across the board. I just think that’s the wrong approach.

And I think that even if it gets close to passing — which I don’t think it is — I think you’re going to hear a huge community outcry. And I think that if it does get passed, I think there’s going to be a lot of civil disobedience. The police department can’t be out there all the time. People at 30 miles per hour they’re speeding at 40 miles per hour, 50 miles per hour. I just don’t think it’s something that the public in general is going to accept, and therefore they’re just going to abuse it across the board.

And what about Northern Boulevard — are you opposed to lowering the speed limit to 25 on Northern?

I’m opposed to lowering it to 25 on Northern. Do you know how slow 20 miles per hour, 25 miles per hour is? What about the businesses in the city of New York that have to get from one place to the other? And for the most part they have to use local streets because they’re not permitted on every highway or expressway. So are you in effect maybe doubling the amount of time that it’s going to take businesses to get their deliveries done? This is way too complicated just to say ‘Let’s just lower the speed limit to 20 miles per hour.’

When you say 25 miles per hour on Northern Boulevard, I don’t think that’s in the bill. What I see is 20 miles per hour across the board.

No, it says the City Council can set speeds higher where they find appropriate.

Yeah, but again, you’re making communities then go back and legislate every major thoroughfare in the city of New York. This is convoluted.

What would you say to these parents who’ve lost their little kids on Northern Boulevard to people who were driving too fast?

Again, they’re driving beyond the 30 miles per hour speed limit. There’s a difference here. This is not what I consider to be a comprehensive solution. It’s a knee-jerk reaction, ‘Let’s just lower the speed limit.’ I’ve seen this too many times as a civic activist, as a person who’s worked in government, as an elected official. There’s a knee-jerk reaction to an immediate problem, but the knee-jerk reaction doesn’t necessarily solve the problem. But it makes for good press. I want to solve the problem. So let’s have a real discussion. I’m not seeing a real discussion. What I’m seeing is ‘Let’s make it 20 miles per hour.’ That’s not a real discussion.

If you could impose a solution, what would it be?

I would like to see a much more easier process, whether it’s lowering the speed limit, with community input, easier to get all-way stops at traffic lights, an appeals process when the Department of Transportation denies those community requests. That would be a very good start. I think there’s more we could discuss, but let’s have a real discussion.

One more question. Research shows that the risk of death drops dramatically if you’re hit by a car going 20 miles versus going 30 …

And I don’t disagree with that. I don’t disagree with that. But you’re making a generalization now for the entire city. Why not look at neighborhoods that really want the 20 miles per hour, and where it’s appropriate. I’m not against that. I’m just saying across the board I don’t think is good government.

  • SteveVaccaro

    He’s saying in the past people have asked for speed bumps and stop signs, now they’re asking for 20 MPH default limit, and the problem with the default limit reduction is that “we need to have a much more comprehensive approach”?

    Amazing work on this interview Brad. Senator Avella is going to be asked to explain a number of these comments.

  • When and where was the community input that resulted in NYC having a 30 mph speed limit? I don’t recall any opportunity to ever weigh in.

  • Mark Walker

    (Head explodes.)

  • sbauman

    There isn’t much pedestrian/bicycle traffic originating/ending within Sen. Avella’s district. Approximately 67% of street based trips are motorized vs. 33% for non-motorized. However, 80% of those motorized trips are under 4 miles and 60% are under 2.5 miles.

    The difference in travel time due to changing the speed limit from 30 to 20 mph is 1 minute per mile. Less than 2.5 minutes (150 seconds) would be the penalty for 60% of the motor vehicle trips within the senator’s district. That’s too hard a concept for him to grasp.

  • Mags

    Ugh – this is such a sick, cynical, head in the sand viewpoint. How many more people – kids, students, moms, dads, people hard at work, people on their way to work, seniors – must die violently or suffer traumatic injury before Avella would stand up for safety? How many more families have to bury a loved one?

    Great interview Streetsblog – thank you for publishing.

  • HamTech87

    I find the chart of vulnerable user death rates at various speeds (20, 30, 40mph)) shocks most people, including our political leaders. Keep showing it!

    http://www.sansonelaw.com/legal-services/auto-accident-lawyer/pedestrian-accidents/

    Would love to see an interview with the person or group who did this research.

  • Joe R.

    Sorry, but I’m seeing awful ideas on both sides here. First, legislated speed limits, regardless of the number, are a terrible idea because they often don’t match the design speed of a street. The end result, which is what we have now in much of NYC, is that vehicle speeds greatly exceed the posted speed limit. You don’t change that by changing a number on a sign. All that does is make the compliance rate with speed limits even worse. There’s only one way to reliably lower vehicle speeds. That’s by reengineering the streets so drivers no longer feel safe going fast. The quickest way to do that in much of the city is with uncontrolled intersections.

    Second, some of Avella’s ideas turn my stomach. For example, “I would like to see a much more easier process, whether it’s lowering the speed limit, with community input, easier to get all-way stops at traffic lights, an appeals process when the Department of Transportation denies those community requests.”

    No, no, no! Laypeople have no business micromanaging street design. That’s part of what got us into the situation we’re in. Misusing or overusing traffic controls like stop signs or traffic signals only results in the compliance rate with these controls decreasing. We’ve added thousands of traffic signals in the last decade. By any statistics the streets aren’t safer but driver behavior is much worse because they now treat every traffic rule more cavalierly. Doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results is the very definition of insanity. Community boards should only have input into street design in very general terms, as in we want DOT to reduce the death/injury rate on this particular street. They shouldn’t have input on the specific measures to be used. They shouldn’t have input to tie the hands of DOT if parking must be removed as part of the reengineering process. I think we can all agree that the obsession of community boards with keeping parking at all costs is one major thing which has stood in the way of safer streets.

    We need to see what works elsewhere, and give the traffic engineers carte blanche to apply whatever solution they feel would work best, whether it’s naked intersections, roundabouts, yield signs, daylighting intersections, traffic signals, lowering speed limits, even raising speed limits. The last item might actually be an appropriate thing to do on limited access highways but the 50 mph legislated highway limit, and possibly even the state maximum 65 mph limit, currently prevents that.

    Finally, I’ve said it before elsewhere but it bears repeating-at the core what we have isn’t a speeding problem or a reckless driving problem but a traffic volume problem. No matter what you do, when traffic volumes exceed a certain number, driving behavior turns into anarchy as it suddenly seems reasonable to do literally anything to gain any small or even perceived amount of progress. Anarchy is what we have. No measures we’ve taken thus far have fixed it, or are likely to fix it. We need to reduce traffic volumes, period. Dramatically, as in by at least 75%. We should focus on measures likely to accomplish that goal.

  • BB

    Whats wrong with a default on the streets? Why do cars need to go faster than people can run or ride a bike? Why do they get special rules to kill people?

    Isn’t driving a car a privilege?

  • The city really is a very big place, and while 20 MPH may make sense in pedestrian-heavy areas in and around Manhattan, there are definitely some outer-borough car-dependent areas that would be hurt more than helped by a default 20 MPH speed limit. Why not ask to eliminate the legislation requiring traffic calming changes to street design in order to lower the speed limit, along with introducing a streamlined review process? That way neighborhoods that want it could easily get a lower speed limit, while those that don’t could stick with the status quo.

  • Joe R.

    Two other things just occurred to me. One, why isn’t there a mandatory permanent license revocation if you kill or seriously injure another person through recklessness, negligence, or incompetence? From where I stand, such a rule would do more good than everything else we can do combined.

    Two, and this is admittedly a long-term solution, why aren’t automakers required to design vehicles to dramatically decrease the death/injury rate when a vehicle hits a vulnerable user? Vehicle design has taken great leaps forward protecting people inside the vehicle, but today’s vehicles are no safer to those outside than they were when I was born. Arguably, with vehicles being heavier and taller on average than 50 years ago, they’re worse now for vulnerable users.

  • Aunt Bike

    I’d be in favor of some sort of higher penalty for injuring or killing someone while speeding or failing to yield as well. These are violations that are easier to prove than say, recklessness or negligence, and its common for drivers to kill and injure others (including other drivers and passengers) because of speeding and failing to yield.

  • Car Free nation

    My problem with his answer is his purported definition of residential. In his mind, it’s only residential if it’s “quiet.” But in New York City, almost every street is residential, whether quiet or not. People live along Broadway, 4th Avenue in Brooklyn, Atlantic Avenue, Canal Street. Just because the streets aren’t quiet, doesn’t mean that there’s not a 3-year-old ready to run into the street at any moment.

    “Do you know how slow 20 miles per hour, 25 miles per hour is? What about the businesses in the city of New York that have to get from one place to the other?”

    And people totally miscalculate the amount of time saved by going faster. In NYC with all the stop and go traffic, I bet you it’s minimal. Most of your time is spent at lights, waiting, so the few extra seconds only gets you to the light to wait faster.

  • Joe R.

    And people totally miscalculate the amount of time saved by going faster. In NYC with all the stop and go traffic, I bet you it’s minimal. Most of your time is spent at lights, waiting, so the few extra seconds only gets you to the light to wait faster.

    This is one thing which proponents of lower speed limits are failing to communicate adequately. Also, if we can reliably get people to drive under 20 mph, there may be places where we can remove traffic signals or stop signs, and operate intersections on line of sight rules. We can’t do this everywhere but if we can get rid of even half the traffic signals in a slow zone, you suddenly spend a lot less time stopped at red lights. If that’s the case, lower peak speeds may actually result in reduced travel times. Right now, even with peak speeds of 30 to 50 mph, it’s rare to average to more 20 mph. You could accomplish exactly the same thing if you just stay in motion at 20 mph.

  • Flakker

    “And people totally miscalculate the amount of time saved by going
    faster. In NYC with all the stop and go traffic, I bet you it’s minimal.
    Most of your time is spent at lights, waiting, so the few extra seconds
    only gets you to the light to wait faster.”

    Indeed. The individual driver living in the same neighborhood in a year can probably figure out the light synchronizations where they now exist. Part of the problem is the same speeding idiots that ruin everything else cutting in front of other drivers, turning it into a chaotic free-for-all where no one gets anywhere except the most crazily aggressive motorists.

  • Flakker

    Is this true? They don’t have fenders and generally have plastic front ends. It’s certainly not a committed effort to be safer for collision victims but I find it hard to believe it’s no better at all.

    Although a factor you didn’t mention is vastly increased power in even the cheapest cars allowing stronger acceleration.

  • Joe R.

    On balance things might be worse even with plastic front ends and no fenders. We have more SUVs, for example. Those seem to be tailor-made to do damage to people even if your average sedan might do less.

    Yes, 100% right about the vastly increased power. I touched on that in some posts a few months back. The higher power allows vehicles to reach high speeds in a much shorter distance. Arguably, if vehicles were limited by law to something like 20 HP per ton of weight, it would take them many blocks to reach 50 or 60 mph. You would therefore seldom see such speeds on local streets.

  • Andrew

    The 30 mph default speed limit was imposed by Albany on October 1, 1964.

  • Jared R

    Perfect post. I mean it. No one has laid out such a succinct and well-developed commentary on the problem. Traffic volume is THE main issue here. Period.

  • Jared R

    Where do Avella’s campaign funds originate? Anyone want to do some digging?

  • OTTA

    Tony Avella needs to realize his way of thinking is no longer popular among the people.

  • Voter

    Tony Avella needs to travel more. London, Paris, and many other European cities are moving to wide 20 mph zones. Why would they work in those cities, but not here?

  • lop

    ‘The higher power allows vehicles to reach high speeds in a much shorter distance.’

    http://www.zeroto60times.com/Ford-0-60-mph-Times.html
    Click around if you want, acceleration rates have increased a lot.

    ‘Arguably, if vehicles were limited by law to something like 20 HP per ton of weight’

    Some people have boats and other heavy things to move or live around mountains. How do you only sell to them the type of car with more power? And what then keeps someone with an overpowered pickup truck from cruising around with an empty bed?

  • lop

    ‘By any statistics the streets aren’t safer’

    http://dmv.ny.gov/sites/default/files/legacy_files/statistics/2001nyctotal.pdf

    2001, 381 deaths, including 186 pedestrians and 15 bicyclists. 124,170 injuries, including 12606 pedestrians and 3686 bicyclists.

    http://dmv.ny.gov/sites/default/files/legacy_files/statistics/2012nyc.pdf

    2012, 271 deaths, including 135 pedestrians and 17 bicyclists. 65,632 injuries, including 10809 pedestrians and 3518 bicyclists.

    I’d hazard a guess that cycling increased enough for the fatality rate per mile or per trip to go down.

    The streets are absolutely getting safer. Just not safe enough, and yes, a disproportionate share of the decrease in injuries/fatalities have been among drivers and passengers.

    ‘No, no, no! Laypeople have no business micromanaging street design.’

    Exactly right. Because they make wild claims like uncontrolled intersections are a great idea and safer for much of the city. Then moments later remembering

    ‘No matter what you do, when traffic volumes exceed a certain number, driving behavior turns into anarchy as it suddenly seems reasonable to do literally anything to gain any small or even perceived amount of progress.’

    Do you not see the contradiction? In some outlying areas, sure, traffic lights might be overused. But along arterials where 60% of pedestrian fatalities occur what do you think happens if you get rid of lights?

  • Joe R.

    Do you not see the contradiction? In some outlying areas, sure, traffic lights might be overused. But along arterials where 60% of pedestrian fatalities occur what do you think happens if you get rid of lights?

    Traffic lights are just a kludge which might be needed in some places because traffic levels are too high. Any way you look at it, that’s the main issue here. If you have so much traffic that you start to need traffic lights at certain times for people to cross, then that’s the problem you should fix first, not install traffic lights. In fact, you shouldn’t let traffic levels ever get anywhere near the level where you would need traffic lights. Traffic volume problems should be nipped in the bud.

    Another problem with traffic lights is even if they may be needed, it’s often just during a few peak hours, and yet NYC will keep them on regular cycles 24 hours per day, instead of going with sensors at less busy times like I’ve seen on some roads such as NY25 past city limits ( where it’s a pleasure cycling after about midnight because you can often go for miles without stopping ). That increases unnecessary idling at red lights, cause delays, and decreases red light compliance in general, particularly among cyclists and pedestrians. And that brings me to my last point-traffic signals have a very poor compliance rate among the very people you say they’re supposed to protect. Anyone who claims to be a proponent of traffic signals can’t gloss over that fact.

  • Joe R.

    Thanks! I tend to write a lot about the issues caused by traffic, but in the end we’re trying to deal with the symptoms instead of the cause. So long as we continue to do that we’ll have a poor track record.

  • nyctuber

    “What I’m seeing is ‘Let’s make it 20 miles per hour.’ That’s not a real discussion.” 100% correct. Whoever is proposing 20 MPH clearly has zero experience driving for a living in NYC.

  • Joe R.

    You could limit acceleration rates in software instead of limiting them by reducing power. That gets around the problem you mentioned. Either way, we both know the car companies would be against the idea, but it’s something which needs to be done. No sane driving cycle requires you to go 60 mph in less than 20 seconds regardless of where you live.

  • lop

    ‘It’s unnaturally slow’

    Moving at 20 mph is only natural if you’re a damn good sprinter or falling off a cliff to your death.

  • lop

    http://www.nytimes.com/1998/09/17/technology/choreographing-the-dance-of-traffic-lights.html

    http://urbanomnibus.net/2011/05/city-of-systems-traffic-signal/

    Current NYC traffic lights aren’t as dumb as you imply, and haven’t been for a long time. Lights are expensive. Smarter lights are more expensive.

    ‘Traffic lights are just a kludge which might be needed in some places because traffic levels are too high.’

    And until you reduce traffic levels what do you think happens if you just turn off the lights?

    ‘Traffic volume problems should be nipped in the bud.’

    They weren’t. Taking out traffic lights reduces capacity, making congestion worse. How does that help as a first step? You rip out lights you would see crashes, and the injuries and fatalities that result from them go up, contrary to the long term trend.

  • Brooklyn Man

    Instead of lowering the speed limit, we should enforce the current speed limit better. Lowering it will do nothing if it’s not enforced.

  • How do we restrict traffic volume? Congestion pricing or even altering the toll structure are no goes in Albany.

  • lop

    ‘ And that brings me to my last point-traffic signals have a very poor compliance rate among the very people you say they’re supposed to protect. Anyone who claims to be a proponent of traffic signals can’t gloss over that fact.’

    A cyclist or pedestrian who treats a red light like a stop or yield doesn’t bother me. I don’t care if they wait or not, as long as if they do go through the red they don’t dart in front of cars or trucks, because that’s dangerous, and not just for them. And guess what, people are pretty good about not jumping in front of cars and trucks. They know it’s suicidal.

  • Joe R.

    NYC could do a few things on its own without Albany’s approval. It could ban curbside parking in favor loading zones or bike/bus lanes, eliminate parking minimums, close off some streets entirely to vehicular traffic, in general make it less convenient to drive. The problem is the local parking protection boards, otherwise known as community boards, are always against such measures.

  • Joe R.

    Yes, in practice the vast majority of pedestrians and cyclists do exactly what you say, me included. Here’s the problem though-it’s illegal under current law. That means traffic lights cause pedestrians and cyclists to pay fines even for actions we can both agree aren’t dangerous. It would be great if we could change the law so police could only ticket cyclists or pedestrians who dart in front of vehicles when going through a red light, but do you honestly see that happening any time soon because I don’t?

    In the final analysis it’s incumbent upon the state to implement safety in the least intrusive way possible. No traffic control should ever require a road user to stop if there is no conflict. If it means we spend money to put pedestrian/vehicle sensors on all 12,000+ signalized intersections to accomplish that goal then so be it.

  • Kevin Love

    Although highly annoying, the probability of being fined is rather low. Many cyclists and peds have never been fined in their entire lives.

    The fine itself is also rather low. Just a cost of living in New York.

  • lop

    ‘so police could only ticket cyclists or pedestrians who dart in front of vehicles when going through a red light’

    Or go through a red light when cars come around a blind curve or any other situation that you could just lump together as ‘negligent crossing’ or something of the sort.

    ‘but do you honestly see that happening any time soon’

    Meh, there are bigger issues to deal with first. For now it would be good enough to get the mayor on board and have the NYPD cut out any jaywalking blitz, which isn’t outside the realm of possibility.

    Modern traffic lights can cost a half million dollars per intersection. I think getting the NYPD to stop ticketing jaywalkers who didn’t cause any problems/do anything stupid/dangerous that could have caused a problem is more likely that getting DOT to come up with a few billion to upgrade every traffic light in the city, even if spread out over a decade, and get them to play nice with existing systems. As lights need to be replaced then installing full featured modern lights, or at least ones that could be upgraded cost effectively later on would be a better approach.

    You’d be better off getting traffic lights to just flash yellow or red where and when traffic levels are low enough for waiting at red lights with no cross traffic to be a real issue, combined with speed cameras and the occasional cop on wider roads. if speeding is already or would be expected to become a problem.

  • Aunt Bike

    Yes, cars just don’t want to go 20 miles per hour, and it’s not like the driver has control over them.

  • Jared R

    Redesigning streets has been one of the best ways to reduce volume and speed. Make it more of a headache to drive.

  • sbauman

    How about the following compromise. Lower the speed limit to 20 mph and enforce it.

    It’s not an either-or proposition.

  • Daniel

    This is what Families for Safe Streets is asking of Albany. Albany forced the 30 mph default speed limit on the city in the 1960’s. The proposed legislation allows the city to set a default speed limit between 20 mph and 55 mph and it allows the city to set a speed limit on any street in that range as well. It leaves the actual setting of speed limits within those ranges to the city.

    When in Albany we had a graphic of what this would actually look like, and tried to explain to the members the likely effect on their district. In short, the minor one way streets would get the default 20 or 25 mph speed limit, while two ways and arterial one ways would get 25 to 35 mph speed limits and the highways would get 50-55 mph speed limits. This is the way most cities set their speed limits and for good reason. NYC is forced to set 25 mph speed limits on major arterials and 30 mph on side streets because of a mistake made in Albany 50 years ago, against the wishes of Henry Barnes (the first traffic engineer).

    Ideally, Albany would grant the city full control over it’s speed limits, but the 20 to 55 mph range is what towns in New York already have the power to set, so this bill is just asking that the city have the same power over it’s speed limits as the townships do.

  • Keegan Stephan

    Hmmm, the legislation he is opposing does not automatically lower the default speed limit, but enables the city to do so if it chooses, so there will be time to do so and change the current proposed designations floating around the city.

    And every plan I’ve seen already has arterials set to 25/30, including Northern, so no one would need to go back and petition the City to raise the speed limit on Northern.

    And of course, it is a lot easier to lobby the city to change speed limits than it is to lobby the state, so if Senator Avella really wants to see “a much more easier process” to raising or lowering the speed limit, he should champion this piece of enabling legislation, I think.

  • actually, it will. it’s psychological. when you see a sign that says 30, you know you can get away with 40 (don’t lie, you know you do it- we all do). a sign that says 20, you’re only going to do 30. we all let ourselves go 5-10 over the limit, so lowering the limit lowers the speed people actually go.

  • BBnet3000

    If you could move 20mph while stopping less frequently you could make better time than moving 30mph but stopping frequently.

  • Aunt Bike

    I agree with the notion that people miscalculate the time they save by going faster. I hear drivers complain that they speed from red light to red light, and in the same breath complain that they do it because there are so many red lights.

    Never occurs to them that if they slowed down, it might just improve their chances of hitting greens. A 20 or 25 MPH limit might just be a boon to drivers who are sick of waiting at red lights.

  • carma

    merging onto a highway and it takes 20 seconds to reach 60mph would be dangerous.

  • qrt145

    There is _some_ truth to the statement that driving at 20 mph is “unnatural”. Most cars on the road today are automatic and overpowered. They creep up over 20 mph rather easily with hardly a push on the accelerator. To drive at 20 mph requires spending (wasting?) a lot of concentration on staring at the speedometer, which probably detracts from safety more than it helps.

    With manual transmission it is much easier to control the speed of the vehicle, because you know that you shouldn’t shift beyond a certain gear, and you get auditory feedback from your engine.

  • Needs

    I’m waiting for this advocate of local control to voice his whole hearted support for NYC home rule.

  • Joe R.

    This article and the questions asked of Senator Avella give a different impression. Perhaps if Senator Avella had been given the information you wrote he wouldn’t have been opposed. What’s interesting here is limited access highways might see speed limits raised to 55 mph. That’s a step in the right direction in that higher highway speed limits make highways more attractive, even if a driver has to go out of their way a bit more to use a highway for part of a trip. I too would ultimately like to see NYC have the power to set any limit it wants on highways. Same thing with highways statewide. There should be no legislated maximum possible speed limit on highways.

  • Joe R.

    Back when many vehicles took 15-25 seconds to reach 60 mph highway merging didn’t seem to be a problem because motorists would either change lanes or slow down when they saw someone getting on the highway. If we went back to those kinds of power levels driving behavior would eventually change to compensate. Also, in the few places where safe merging might not be possible, entrance ramps could be lengthened.

  • carma

    i agree. the automatic transmission is great. but a manual tranny allows you to understand the car much better, and allows you to actually focus more of your surroundings. (assumming you are a half decent driver) to begin with

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