City Council Passes Home Rule Message for 25 MPH. Is Klein Listening?

Update: The Daily News reports that Klein will be introducing legislation by the end of the week to lower speed limits to 25 mph only on streets with two lanes or less. Streets with more than two lanes would remain at 30 mph, and the local community board would be required to make a request for a lower speed limit before the city could make the change. This would effectively tie the city’s hands on arterial streets, where DOT can already set the limit at 25 mph under current law.

This afternoon in a 44-4 vote, the City Council passed a home rule message asking Albany to pass legislation to lower New York City’s default speed limit from 30 to 25 mph. Now it’s up to the State Senate to introduce a companion bill to legislation sponsored by Speaker Sheldon Silver, and advocates are hoping Senate Co-Leader Jeff Klein will step up.

The City Council wants the State Senate to step up for a lower speed limit. Will Jeff Klein take it on? Photo: NY Senate

“We’re requesting that we be given the authority to establish a citywide 25 mph speed limit, while also making it easier to sign 20 mph speed limits in select locations,” said Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.

Streetsblog asked Klein spokesperson Anna Durrett this morning if the senator had a reaction to the home rule message. “I will get back to you,” she said. (So far, she hasn’t.) The window for action from Klein is closing: This year’s legislative session ends a week from tomorrow.

The home rule bill, which unanimously passed the transportation committee yesterday, received wide support at the full City Council this afternoon. Council members were accompanied on the floor by students in the “Council Member for a Day” program, and one of them had a message about the speed limit bill.

“Traffic in the city is dangerous, and by lowering the speed limit from 30 to 25, police can ticket more people who are speeding,” said Christopher Gerbasi, a student at P.S. 128 in Middle Village who was spending the day with Council Member Elizabeth Crowley.

Not all council members agreed with the majority. The four “nay” votes were from Vincent Ignizio and Steven Matteo of Staten Island, Eric Ulrich of Queens, and Jumaane Williams of Brooklyn.

“I am very much in support of the vast majority of Vision Zero, but I’m not convinced that we need to lower the speed limit to 25 mph across the entire city,” Williams said, adding that he supports Slow Zones. Williams said he is aware that people are much safer in crashes at slower speeds, and noted that 20 is even safer than 25 mph, but somehow this did not lead him to vote for the bill. Instead, he said there should be more tickets for drivers violating the existing 30 mph limit. “I am not convinced that it’s not an issue of enforcement,” he said.

After his vote, Williams said on Twitter that “it’s possible” he misunderstood the bill and “would be happy to learn more” — but the issue is out of the City Council’s hands now. It’s up to the State Senate.

  • R

    Klein’s logic astounds.

    Let’s lower the speed limit on “quiet” streets where it’s somewhat hard to speed but keep the status quo on wide open streets where 30 mph speed limits are mere suggestions for drivers who do 50 when the opportunity arises.

    On top of that, let’s take our super-long arterials that sometimes stretch from one end of a borough to the other (and sometimes between boroughs!) and let each community board decide about individual sections. So here you have 30 mph, there you have 20 mph, elsewhere you have 25 mph…who knows? Could be 5 or more different sections on one arterial alone. That sure should be fun for our NYPD to enforce. Lord knows they’re just champing at the bit to ticket drivers as it is.

    Why not do it the other way around? Set it to 25 mph and have the community board request to set it higher. My bet is that few would summon the guts or get over the lazy inertia it would take to ask for 30.

    I get it. Politics. This may be what it takes to get it over the finish line, but sheesh. Is it any wonder we can’t tackle big problems anymore?

  • Larry Littlefield

    I’ll take Klein’s plan if it passes.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “Why not do it the other way around? Set it to 25 mph and have the community board request to set it higher. My bet is that few would summon the guts or get over the lazy inertia it would take to ask for 30.”

    That’s a good point. A lot of this is just “against everything.”

  • Peter Engel

    Williams is a pandering moron.