Klein’s Bill Would Make It Harder to Lower Speed Limits on Dangerous Streets

Just after the City Council passed a home rule resolution asking Albany to pass legislation to reduce the city’s default speed limit to 25 mph, Senator Jeff Klein told the Daily News that he will be introducing a bill of his own. But there are big problems with Klein’s bill, chief among them a provision that would make it harder to lower the speed limit on dangerous streets than it is today.

The Klein proposal would lower the speed limit to 25 mph only on streets with two lanes or less. For larger streets, Klein would require the local community board to support reducing the speed limit below the default, currently set at 30 mph, before DOT could take action. This would be a step backward for safety, giving community boards veto power over speed limit decisions that DOT can currently make on its own. Under the Klein proposal, for instance, the process to implement the arterial slow zone program would become dramatically more complicated.

Advocates are open to working with Klein on legislation, but have yet to be won over. “We have concerns that community boards would have discretion to make the decisions, and we would like further clarification about what the senator has in mind,” said Amy Cohen of Families for Safe Streets. “Giving community boards decision-making power is disconcerting.”

It’s unclear if the bill would give DOT authority to designate a 20 mph limit on streets without making expensive engineering changes, a key feature of the Assembly bill sponsored by Speaker Sheldon Silver.

Klein’s office has not responded to Streetsblog’s requests for details about the bill.

  • Eric McClure

    Non-starter. Most NYC road deaths are on arterials with two or more lanes.

    Why is it so hard for the people we elect to take positive, concrete steps to save lives? For God’s sake, no more dithering.

  • Mark Walker

    What a cynical piece of work. Him or the bill? Well, both.

  • Mark Walker

    It’s not just that he’s unwilling to take concrete steps to save lives. He’s actually taking concrete steps to thwart the saving of lives.

  • Just wondering, when they began implementing Vision Zero in Stockholm, what did the local Swedish community boards think?

    It’s unbelievable how complicated our elected officials want to make this. It’s actually quite simple and the easiest first step is lowering the speed limit. People are getting killed every other day, more or less. The answer can’t be to let the average community board say, “Let’s not rush into things.”

  • sbauman

    Community Boards are only advisory. Klein’s bill would substantially increase their power.

    The problem is these boards are not democratically constituted. Their boundaries do not conform to one man – one vote. The members are not accountable to the electorate.

    Elected officials can take advice from anyone – whether they are democratically constituted or not. That’s the fundamental difference that makes it possible to have Community Boards in their current form.

    There is a democratically legislature in NYC. It’s the City Council. It has just voted overwhelmingly for imposing a default citywide 25 mph speed limit.

    What’s Klein’s problem regarding the will of NYC residents as expressed by their elected officials?

  • Hilda

    Construction projects over a certain size require a sidewalk shed to protect the public. If the size of the sidewalk shed was determined by a community board, these would be as small as possible, or would not even exist, because they are inconvenient, possibly an eyesore, and often just annoying, beyond the fact that they save lives.

    But of course that would not happen, because community boards are not building experts, or safety experts. Why in the world would we leave the safety of the public up to people who are not experts. Thankfully, we are so much smarter than that.

  • Jeff

    As a movement we’ve clearly done something wrong when we’re worried about our neighbors not supporting slower traffic and safer streets in their own backyard.

  • Charles

    Horrible, horrible legislation. So the state legislature and the unelected community boards get to decide on urban speed limits? Unbelievable. Why do we bother electing a city council again?

  • Challenger
  • JamesR

    Community Boards have almost nothing in the way of binding authority,
    but the effective ones wield a huge amount of ‘soft’ power. Most also
    contain ‘experts’ from various fields – including engineering, real
    estate, planning, policing, and others – who sit on either the board itself or participate on committees as public members.

    You may find that joining one of these committees, or at least showing up to express how you feel on a particular issue, is a more effective way to promote livable streets policies than clicktivism on Streetsblog.

  • Chewbaco

    What’s going to make NYPD enforce a new speed limit any more than they enforce the current, which is practically never? Correct me if I’m wrong.

  • lop

    Depends who controls your community board.

  • Andrew


  • Nathanael

    Ah, Senator Klein (Republican pretending to be a Democrat, but voting for the Republican majority leader).

    Support Ollie Koppell (real Democrat) who’s challenging him.

  • Nathanael



    I have more respect for actual Republicans than I do for turncoat liars like Jeff Klein. Let’s get rid of Klein.

  • Nathanael

    Well, if you can get on them. That’s not necessarily easy, given that they’re APPOINTED.

  • Nathanael

    Unsurprising from the man who took concrete steps to prevent his own party from taking power. Klein’s a backstabber.

  • Chebaco

    I see, I didn’t know about that program, hopefully it works, I think it’s kind of impractical anyway for cops to setup speed traps on city streets, though I don’t know, never tried it.

  • Andrew

    Unfortunately, the state limits the number, the locations, and the hours of operation of the city’s speed cameras, but they’re still a lot better than nothing.