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DOT Is Finally Bringing Riverside Drive in Line With 25 MPH City Speed Limit

When the new citywide 25 miles per hour speed limit took effect a year ago, DOT carved out some exceptions, retaining speed limits of 30 or 35 mph on some surface streets.

A new 25 mph sign on the Riverside Drive 125th Street viaduct. Photo: Delphine S. Taylor
A new 25 mph sign on the Riverside Drive 125th Street viaduct. Photo: Delphine S. Taylor
A new 25 mph sign on the Riverside Drive 125th Street viaduct. Photo: Delphine S. Taylor

One of those streets was Riverside Drive, where last November DOT installed 30 mph speed limit signs at locations north of 100th Street. At that time we asked DOT why Riverside, a neighborhood street flanked by apartment buildings and parks, was exempt from the slower, safer speed limit, but did not get a response.

“Some larger streets, such as limited access highways or major arterial streets, have posted speed limits of 30 MPH and above,” read a DOT FAQ sheet issued last fall. “[T]hese will remain in place while DOT evaluates these locations.”

Last December, City Council members Helen Rosenthal and Mark Levine asked Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg to “immediately” reduce the speed limit on Riverside from 103rd Street to 165th Street to 25 mph “for the safety of … residents and … consistency of traffic policy.”

Wrote Rosenthal and Levine:

The street is lined with residential buildings on the east side and playgrounds, tot lots, and parkland on the west side. With its connections to the George Washington Bridge, northern New York roads, and the I-95 into the City, there is a constant stream of car and bike traffic on this stretch of Riverside Drive. Residents must brave this traffic as they cross the street to use the park, often with children in tow.

The speed limit remained 30 mph on Riverside north of 103rd Street for about 11 more months. Sometime in the last few weeks, DOT installed 25 mph signs on Riverside south of 135th Street. DOT said the speed limit will be lowered to 25 mph from 135th Street to 165th Street before the year is out.

Through October of this year, drivers injured nine pedestrians and seven cyclists on Riverside Drive between 103rd Street and 165th Street, according to DOT crash data. Thirty-three motor vehicle occupants were injured on that segment of Riverside during those 10 months, a sign that motorists are colliding at high speeds.

DOT said lowering the maximum legal speed on Riverside Drive to the citywide default was done as part of a project that will add sidewalks and pedestrian islands between 116th and 135th streets. We’ll have more on that project, which was opposed by Manhattan Community Board 9, in a future post.

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