Speed Limit Bills Shift to 25 MPH, Allow DOT to Designate 20 MPH Streets

With Mayor de Blasio, the City Council, and families of traffic violence victims lining up behind lowering the city’s default speed limit from 30 to 25 mph, Assembly Member Daniel O’Donnell and State Senator Martin Malave Dilan said this afternoon that they are amending their speed limit bills. Instead of establishing a 20 mph default speed limit and requiring the City Council to pass laws to designate exceptions, the bills will now drop the default to 25 mph and allow DOT to lower the speed limit to 20 mph on a case-by-case basis.

More of these signs could be going up if Albany officials join NYC electeds in supporting a 25 mph speed limit. Photo: NYC DOT
More of these signs could be going up if Albany officials join NYC electeds in supporting a 25 mph speed limit. Photo: NYC DOT

With the exception of school zones, state law currently requires streets with 20 mph limits to also include traffic calming measures, like the speed humps in DOT’s neighborhood slow zone program. Streets with a 25 mph limit, like those in the arterial slow zone program, simply require signage. On all other streets, the speed limit is the default 30 mph.

The amended bills effectively shift these numbers down by five mph: The default would become 25 mph and DOT would be able to designate 20 mph streets with only signage. Traffic calming measures would be required for speed limits below 20 mph.

Previously, the bills had proposed giving the power to change speed limits from the citywide default to the City Council. State law currently gives that power to DOT, and the amended bills will continue to give that discretion to the agency.

“Today’s amended version of A8478 represents a solid agreement among advocates, the Mayor’s office, and myself as to how to best adjust speed limit laws to improve traffic safety in New York City,” O’Donnell said in a press release. “I am sending a Home Rule Request to the City Council, and I look to them to affirm their support for this important measure by promptly voting for it.”

This morning, the City Council transportation committee unanimously advanced a resolution in support of a 25 mph speed limit. This afternoon, the full City Council overwhelmingly passed that resolution on a voice vote. The City Council still needs to approve a formal home rule request regarding the O’Donnell-Dilan bills for them to advance in Albany.

Families for Safe Streets, a group of New Yorkers who have lost loved ones to traffic violence, had advocated for a 20 mph citywide speed limit. Today they backed the shift to 25 mph. “We strongly support the proposed legislation to reduce the default speed limit in NYC to 25 mph, while also allowing [DOT] the authority to reduce the speed limit on neighborhood streets to 20 mph quickly in order to save lives,” said Amy Cohen, a founding member of the group. “It is imperative that the Home Rule Message be approved by the City Council and the bill be passed by Albany this legislative session.”

The 20 mph bills had yet to gain support from key legislators, including State Senator Tony Avella, a member of the power-sharing Independent Democratic Conference. As of this afternoon, O’Donnell’s bill has already been amended. Dilan’s companion bill in the Senate remains unchanged, but his staff says they are “in the process of introducing the language in the Senate.” State Senator Brad Hoylman, who had previously introduced a 25 mph bill in the Senate, says he will join Dilan as a prime sponsor of the amended legislation.

“The goal is to get the speed limit lowered, and it seems that going from 20 mph to 25 is an incremental change, but it’s certainly lower than 30,” Hoylman said. “Hopefully it will not be seen as big a challenge as the previous bill was, and from that perspective, maybe it will have a better shot.”

  • Aunt Bike

    The change isn’t being proposed because somebody arbitrarily decided 30 was “speeding”, it’s being proposed because the slower the vehicle goes, the better the chance a pedestrian will survive being struck by that vehicle.

    A little hard to get that safety is being put above convenience. Seriously, it’s a new thing. Motorist convenience has been the primary factor in street design and improvement for as long as anybody can remember, it’s changing now.

    25 is no more unnatural than 20 or 30 or 50. The car goes at the speed the operator makes it go. Slow down and you’ll probably start hitting more green lights. You only think you’re saving time by rushing from traffic signal to traffic signal, that’s pretty much what you do in a city with as many lights as we have.

  • Aunt Bike

    In that case, the bike lane isn’t causing the traffic jam, the double parked truck is.

  • nyctuber

    I’m aware of the reasons. By that logic, why not force drivers to adhere to 15 mph. You clearly do not drive for a living, and think you can label this as mere inconvenience. It has nothing to do with the straw man of ‘racing from light to light.’

  • nyctuber

    Oh really, can I? Because the job market is so great. I did not state I am unhappy with my job. People die every day, you don’t punish an entire industry by forcing them to drive unnaturally slow.

  • lop

    You have a right to life. Not to drive a cab.

  • nyctuber

    That’s great to know. I’ll be waiting for your check in the mail to cover my rent, food etc.

  • KillMoto

    Don’t like it? Move to Boston where 30mph is the law and everyone exceeds it.

  • KillMoto

    On the other hand, you can drive right up onto a sidewalk and sever a persons foot and retain your hack license. So at least you got that going for ya

  • nyctuber

    Yeah, I’m a little tired of the ‘if you don’t like the absurd aw we’re going to impose on you, move’ diatribe.

  • nyctuber

    Yeah, good point. Especially since a bike messenger was distracting the cab driver by shouting at him and hitting his cab. You know, those ‘safe’ bike messengers who don’t weave in and out of traffic and break every rule of the road all day.

  • KillMoto

    They do. The average weekday speed of NYC traffic is less than 10 mph. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/24/nyregion/24traffic.html?_r=0

    Lowering the top speed won’t make that worse, but some people are afraid nevertheless

  • KillMoto

    When distracted, professional drivers press the brake pedal not the gas.

    Are you saying that the cab driver’s attempted vehicular homicide is a legal or moral defense for the maiming he perpetrated?

  • nyctuber

    You’re factoring in traffic jams which have nothing to do with the rest of the time where cab drivers need to get to where the work is, and get to their destinations quickly, which sometimes involves highways. Completely irrelevant statistics.

  • nyctuber

    Yeah sure they do. When an aggressive angry guy on a bike with a giant chain is threatening you. Same thing with that guy on the WSH who was surrounded by bikers, right? Attempted vehicular Homocide? You people must all live with your parents and have no clue what it’s like to do a stressful job. You really think a cab driver wants to intentionally drive onto the sidewalk and hurt someone. That’s quite pathetic.

  • KillMoto

    Except, that particular driver admitted he intentionally drove onto the curb chasing the person on a bike.

    What is pathetic is that sociopath (1) is not in prison and (2) still gas a license.

    Change jobs friend, all that stress is getting to you.

    http://bikeportland.org/2013/01/30/bike-commuters-are-happiest-and-other-psu-research-tidbits-82448

  • nyctuber

    Right, so one person who is intentionally homocidal, applies to whatever particular field he’s in. Comical. Change jobs? Hardly. I like this job. I’d bet, however, from your detached pontificating, that you haven’t the slightest clue what it means to do a difficult job 12 hours a day 5 days a week.

  • KillMoto

    I sure don’t. I work 40 hours a week and make $120k. I went to college for engineering and applied myself. I work hard, I’m proud of my work, and I make a real difference proving peoples lives.

    You say you like your job but you sired do complain about it a lot. In NYC more people are killed by drivers than guns.

    Of a safe maximum speed is not the solution, what do you- long time user of the streets – suggest?

  • nyctuber

    Yeah good for you. Cab drivers work equally hard. I didn’t complain at all until the city demanded we drive at an unnaturally slow speed. Take your condescending narcissism elsewhere.

  • KillMoto

    Personal attacks now? Come on you’re better than that. That’s just your road rage speaking.

    Better find an outlet for that or it might result in a heart attack

  • nyctuber

    Is this where you feign sensitivity over a term like narcissism? How predictable. Btw, a good number of cab drivers hold degrees from their countries of origin. It’s been fun.

  • KillMoto

    So… Just so we’re clear. You don’t have any counter proposal to lower vehicular violence.

    All we can hope to learn from your countess hours of driving experience is that 25mph is stupid and unnatural? That’s it?

  • Aunt Bike

    Maybe they figure 25 is reasonable for drivers but safer for pedestrians. Maybe they feel like I do that drivers don’t lose a heck of a lot by going slower, but pedestrians gain a lot. Maybe I don’t have to drive for a living to understand the why of it better than you do.

  • If you can’t comment without making it personal, don’t comment. This thread is closed.

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