Martin Dilan Introduces 20 MPH Bill in State Senate

Supporters of home rule legislation for NYC speed limits at Grand Army Plaza Sunday. Photo: Dmitry Gudkov
Supporters of home rule legislation for NYC speed limits rallied at Grand Army Plaza Sunday. Photo: Dmitry Gudkov

State Senator Martin Malave Dilan, of Brooklyn, has introduced companion legislation to Assembly Member Dan O’Donnell’s speed limit bill, which would set the maximum speed on NYC streets at 20 miles per hour, except on streets “where the City Council determines a different speed limit is appropriate.”

“In the first two weeks of 2014 there were seven pedestrian fatalities, two in the same day,” reads a statement on Dilan’s web site. “While Mayor de Blasio’s ramped-up enforcement has made an impact, the city requires additional tools to realistically address these fatalities.”

Dilan chairs the Senate transportation committee. At this writing the speed limit bill has no Senate cosponsors, and could face an uphill climb. When O’Donnell introduced the Assembly version in January, Senator Marty Golden called it an “overreaction” to pedestrian deaths.

A pedestrian hit by a vehicle moving at 20 mph has a 95 percent chance of surviving. For a pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling at 30 mph, the current city speed limit, the survival rate drops to 55 percent. Research cited by the 20’s Plenty For Us campaign shows that lower speed limits reduce collisions overall.

In their first two weeks of operation, DOT speed cameras issued 900 tickets in school zones. The cameras are operational only during school hours, and only ticket drivers who are traveling at least 10 mph over the speed limit.

At least 12 children age 14 and under were killed by New York City motorists since January 2013, according to crash data compiled by Streetsblog. Traffic crashes consistently rank as the leading cause of injury-related death for children in NYC. Research shows that children under the age of 10 can’t hear oncoming vehicles as well as older kids and adults.

Yesterday, over 100 people gathered on Prospect Park West in support of the speed limit bills, at a rally organized by Right of Way. “This is a crucial step in Mayor de Blasio’s push toward Vision Zero,” said Right of Way’s Keegan Stephan in a written statement. Stephan said yesterday’s event was held with just two days’ notice.

As we reported in January, the proposed state legislation is stronger than similar bills introduced in the City Council last year, and would supersede equivalent city laws.

  • Paul White

    Kudos to Keegan & Right of Way for organizing such a powerful rally, especially on such short notice.

  • Kevin Love

    “For a pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling at 30 mph, the current city speed limit, the survival rate drops to 55 percent.”

    Kevin’s comment:

    I suggest that this depends upon the vehicle. For example, if the vehicle should happen to be my bicycle, I suspect that the survival rate of anyone struck by this vehicle would be close to 100%.

    Or perhaps you were having an Aunt Sally moment and writing as if I am not a real person and my vehicle is not a real vehicle.

    For those who do not get the literary reference to New York’s own Mark Twain, see:

  • Ian Turner

    I dunno, hitting someone at 40MPH, even on a bicycle, could easily be fatal. And anyway, bicycles are a small percentage of the overall number of vehicles, so they won’t skew the numbers much even if you exclude them.

  • Kevin Love

    Number of pedestrians killed by being hit by a bicycle in New York since 2009 = zero

  • Bucephalus Armstrong

    Number of bicycles traveling anywhere near 30 or 40 mph in New York = just me, baby. I’ll Cat 6 every last one of you. Meet me at the Manhattan bridge. Brooklyn side.

  • This is one sweet photo.

  • Joe R.

    A person being struck by a bicycle at 40 mph is roughly equivalent to one being struck by a motor vehicle at 20 mph. We’re looking at the momentum change here. This roughly translates into force. Momentum equals speed times mass. In a collision momentum is conserved (to a first approximation). In the case of a 40 mph cyclist hitting a stationary person the masses are roughly equal, so each experiences roughly the same momentum change. Or put in layman’s terms, the cyclist decelerates from 40 to 20 mph while the pedestrian accelerates from 0 to 20 mph. In the case of a 1.5-ton motor vehicle hitting a 150 pound pedestrian at 20 mph, the pedestrian ends up accelerating from 0 to maybe 19 mph, while the motor vehicle decelerates from 20 mph to 19 mph. The injuries to the pedestrian are likely to be similar in both cases. It’s well established that there is a 90%+ survival rate if you get hit by a motor vehicle at 20 mph, so the survival rate getting hit by a bicycle at 40 mph is likely to be similar, probably higher because a bicycle is generally a “softer” projectile than a motor vehicle.

    Also note that it’s exceedingly rare for a bicycle to be traveling at 40 mph. The vast majority of cyclists won’t reach those kinds of speeds in most of NYC.

  • Joe R.

    Well, I hit 61 mph descending the Queensboro Bridge going towards Queens about 30 years ago. Of course, I had a ~30 mph tailwind helping me. Normally, I don’t get much past 35 mph, even going downhill.

  • Kevin Love

    The quote I referred to was 30 MPH. Where did 40 come from?

  • Joe R.

    Ask Ian Turner-he’s the one who said 40 mph. I merely did the relevant calculations. Incidentally, the same math applies here to 30 mph. A person hit by a bike going 30 mph is likely to suffer the same injury rate as one hit by a car going 15 mph.

  • Eddie

    61 mph descending the Queensboro Bridge on a bike? That’s about a 3-4% gradient. Sorry, even with a strong tailwind, I find that extremely hard to believe.

  • JimthePE

    Sponsors may be eaiser to find if it were expanded to upstate and L,I, urban areas.

  • Joe R.

    Easily possible. Plug in the numbers for yourself here:

    (note: use -4 for the slope and -30 for the wind speed)

    The draft from the vehicles in front probably helped also. (I was riding in the center roadway with motor traffic, not one of the outer roadways).

  • Kevin Love

    My average speed in New York is approximately 12-15 MPH. My bike is a Pashley Roadster Sovereign. Please note that this is very much not a racing bike, but one designed for transportation.

    Photo here, mine is the large size frame with the double top tube:

  • Joe R.

    Here’s mine. I’ve since added a rear wheel fairing made out of ABS. I’ve managed cruising speeds in the 21-24 mph range back when the bike had pneumatic tires. The airless tires I’m using now are probably about 2-3 mph slower. Overall average speeds in city riding tend to be in the 14 to 16 mph range, inclusive of stops/slowdowns.

    Utility bikes like yours are generally a bit slower but not horribly so. In fact, I want to say with the airless tires my bike probably isn’t all that much faster than yours but I’ll take less speed over flats any day.

  • Kevin Love

    My Pashley comes with Schwalbe Marathon Plus puncture resistant kevlar tires as factory-standard equipment.

    I love kevlar! Why? Because ever since I got the Pashley I’ve never, ever got a puncture. The bike just keeps running and running.

    “Rear wheel fairing.” Does that look something like a fender? Because the bike in the photo would do a fairly good job of throwing road filth all over the rider.

  • Joe R.

    The rear fairing looks practically identical to this:

    The purpose is mainly to cut aero drag but it also keeps things from getting stuck in the spokes.

    I don’t ride in rain or snow, so I’m not concerned about the wheels throwing dirt. A derailleur-equipped bike isn’t the best choice for an all-weather bike anyway.

  • dave

    This is a great idea, I was struck by a taxi in Manhattan in January and now I’ve got a broken foot.. I won’t walk for another 10 weeks.!

  • Dave

    Haha.. be careful, man. I had that attitude for about 5 years and now I’m in a cast got hit pretty hard by a taxi. Watch out.