Advocates to Albany: Let NYC Enforce the Speed Limit at Every School

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Graphic: Transportation Alternatives

Advocates from Transportation Alternatives and Families for Safe Streets will head to Albany tomorrow calling on legislators to expand NYC’s automated speed enforcement program. They want speed cameras by each of the city’s 2,500-plus schools, operational at all times.

Speeding is a leading cause of crashes resulting in injury or death, yet state law limits New York City to just 140 active cameras. Moreover, the cameras must be placed on streets abutting schools within one-half mile of school entrances, and they can only issue tickets during school activities. During the 12 hours of the day when fatal crashes are most likely, the cameras are off.

There were no speed cameras in the city until 2013, when Albany passed its first speed camera legislation, which allowed NYC to install 20 cameras. (Title VII of the state Vehicle and Traffic Law mandates that localities cannot implement speed cameras without state approval.) The next year, the de Blasio administration pushed to expand the program, and Albany increased the number of speed cameras to 140.

Camera enforcement has proven effective in cutting speeding and increasing pedestrian safety. While the city has not released a detailed study of the cameras, traffic deaths and severe injuries reached historic lows in the two full years since automated speed enforcement took effect.

The speed camera program can be greatly expanded. Cameras now issue more than seven times as many speeding tickets as police officers, according to numbers provided by TA, but they are positioned by only 7 percent of New York City schools. The location restrictions also prevent the city from placing cameras on many dangerous streets that children cross to get to school, because those streets don’t directly abut a school entrance.

“Every child in New York City deserves to be safe on their way to school. But right now we only have 140 speed cameras to protect 1.1 million students,” said TA Executive Director Paul Steely White. “And those cameras are only turned on for 60 hours a week — even though more than half of fatal crashes take place outside of school hours, when the cameras are prevented from working.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Public Advocate Letitia James have also made the point that
a vast majority of crashes take place outside of current enforcement hours. At his Queen Boulevard press conference last month, de Blasio lauded the program’s impact and said City Hall wants an expanded speed camera program. “We’re going to push to pass state legislation that will ease these restrictions that will allow cameras to operate overnight and on other streets so we can really maximize the impact of these cameras and protect lives,” he said.

To get legislation through Albany, the members of the Assembly and State Senate will have to pass legislation and Governor Cuomo will have to sign it.

Advocates are collecting signatures for a petition supporting more speed cameras and tweeting at state assembly members and senators with the hashtag “#everyschool.”

  • Alicia

    But that is not the case everywhere in NYC. There are places with poor public transportation and people have to own cars.

    You’re spoiled, saying that. Having had to endure small town transportation, even the outer boroughs have transportation that is vastly superior to the majority of the country.

  • Alex_nma

    There you go trying to make this solely the responsibility of drivers to watch out for pedestrians, even when they don’t have the right of way. The onus is on EVERY road user to act in a safe responsible way.

    I like the way you label cars as deadly. There is nothing inherently dangerous about a car. It is how you operate the car that can make it dangerous. I’ve been driving for many decades with hundreds of thousands of miles behind the wheel and I have never hit a person. I know I am not the only person with that experience.

    You are right that failure to yield is the leading cause of deadly accidents. Camera tickets do nothing to help change that. You should be trying to get politicians to do something about that. They have already started giving pedestrians time to cross when cars are not allowed to turn. They should do that at more intersections.

    Keep in mind that speeds that were legal in the past are all of sudden labeled as speeding when they were, and continue to be perfectly safe. But now that they labeled them as speeding they are a contributing cause to the crash. If you don’t like the results you change the rules to fit your incorrect conclusion. It’s easy to see when this is done, if you take some time to look at the data.

    If a street is made for higher speeds slapping on a lower speed limit and not changing the road design is not going to do anything. That is what ignorant politicians think and what greedy camera operators will push to make money. They want people to speed so that they make more money. If a road needs lower speeds, then the road needs to be redesigned. No way around that.

  • Alex_nma

    Correct. If what the city wants is to get rid of cars, that is what is needed.

  • Alex_nma

    No they don’t make sense. They don’t follow long established, and proven, traffic engineering methodology. It’s not simply changing the law and expecting things to change. That makes no sense. Ask a traffic engineer about that. You need to also redesign the roads. Then they might make sense. It’s not that drivers feel entitled to go fast, it’s that the roads were designed for a certain speed and drivers will naturally go to that design speed. If anyone has their ears plugged it’s you. You want to listen to politicians before you listen to engineers who know how to properly design roads. No matter how often a politician repeats their lie, it will still not be true.

  • Alex_nma

    The point is they don’t live elsewhere. You can’t make rules that make sense for people with great public transportation and apply them to people who don’t have great public transportation.

    That’s like size from now on only clothes in size medium will be made. It fits you and everyone else should be happy to have clothes to cover their naked body no matter how poorly it fits.

  • Joe R.

    It’s impossible to time lights for pedestrian speeds, both as a matter of mathematically finding something which works, and also due to the fact everyone walks at a different pace. It’s pretty much the same line of reasoning when it comes to green waves for cyclists. Any number you choose is going to be hated by a large percentage of the population.

    It’s easier to just accept that pedestrians and cyclists will pass red lights and drive accordingly. The vast majority who do so wait until there is a gap in traffic, so I don’t see how it causes a problem for drivers. It’s only a problem if drivers go so fast that pedestrians or cyclists see a car two blocks down, think they have plenty of time to cross on the assumption the car is going 25 or 30 mph, but then nearly get hit because the car is going 55 mph. This isn’t the pedestrian or cyclist’s fault, it’s the driver’s fault. You can argue that yes, crossing on red is breaking the law, but if cars moved at predictable, consistent speeds then crossing on red is a very safe thing to do.

    Note that in my mind accepting pedestrians and cyclists crossing on red is a reasonable compromise given that we really can’t design streets which carry large numbers of motor vehicles and at the same time have favorable light timing for non-motor vehicles. Of course, if we reduced traffic volumes enough, the need for traffic lights is gone, and the streets will work better for everyone. NYC has no interest in doing that, at least not yet. Therefore, just accept red-light crossing pedestrians and cyclists as part of the cost of driving in the city. And note this really is a compromise. If it were up to me, with NYC being a pedestrian/cyclist oriented city, I would legally grant pedestrians or cyclists the right-of-way over motor vehicles all the time at intersections, regardless of the light color.

  • Motorisims

    Children are innocent. Adults, not so much. Elderly: Guilty as fuck. Run them over if you can!

  • AMH

    I disagree that cars are not inherently dangerous. They have the ability to take a life with only the slightest error. When I was learning to drive, this was drilled into me constantly–unlike being on my bike, I was now responsible for the lives of everyone else on the street, not just myself or my passengers. If you’ve ever worked a job that involved machinery, your safety training has emphasized this kind of awareness.

    The perception of what speed is safe is very different inside and outside a vehicle. Urban speed limits have been raised dramatically since cars were first permitted on the streets (along with street redesign to allow that speed), and we’re beginning to realize that we went too far. High speeds are not conducive to a pleasant or safe street, as you must know. I absolutely agree that drivers respond to street design, and that streets should be redesigned for safe behavior. That takes time and money, and in the meantime, enforcing the speed limit is necessary, and speed cameras are proven to work. The DOT has done a great job with quick and cheap neckdowns and road diets (although they’re much too willing to compromise on safety when whiny drivers complain) and needs to continue this work at an even greater pace.

  • Simon Phearson

    It’s strange to me that, when it comes to pedestrians and cyclists, you say that everyone should follow the rules, but when it comes to rules that apply to drivers, you complain that the streets aren’t designed to force them to follow the rules, so that we should change the rules to do what drivers naturally feel inclined to do.

    Do you grasp that pedestrians and cyclists violate the rules in precisely the same kinds of situations that drivers do – i.e., when the rules run contrary to what feels “safe” and “appropriate”? No pedestrian willingly walks into the street ahead of a car they can see. No cyclist runs a red light where they expect to get t-boned. They make judgments based on the way the street is designed.

    Sagely advising that everyone “follow the rules” is disingenuous, too, insofar as the rules you’re describing have almost entirely been designed to facilitate car traffic. But that’s not even what you’re doing. You’re saying that people should follow the rules, when it serves drivers’ interests. When it doesn’t serve drivers’ interests, then the rules should be changed – to serve drivers’ interests.

    The alternative approach being impressed upon you here is – let’s make the streets safe for everyone, regardless of mode or rule compliance. Yes, let’s re-design the streets so that drivers feel the need to slow down and pay more attention. Let’s give pedestrians good crossing options so that they don’t have to waste time taking detours to painted crosswalks that are out of their way. Let’s give cyclists a place to be on the streets so that they know where to go (and drivers know where to look for them). And then, when there’s an inattentive pedestrian, a texting driver, a reckless cyclist, the chance that something awful happens will be less.

    The role that traffic cameras play in this is – regardless of whether they’re a cash cow for anyone – they slow down traffic. People just drive slower, even if the road is still designed for faster speed. That’s a good result! And it’s all the more remarkable that it can be achieved without a costly and time-intensive process to completely redesigned the streets involved. If you’re someone who thinks that what we actually need are better road configurations, speed cameras should seem like a pretty good transitional option.

    Does it matter, ultimately, if they extract fines outside of the narrow parameters of what’s legally permitted? From a legal perspective, sure. But that’s not a reason to oppose their use, from a traffic engineering perspective. From that perspective, over-zealous citation just makes the roads safer.

  • Alicia

    long established, and proven, traffic engineering methodology

    Garbage (assumptions) in, garbage (results) out. A lot of established methodology works on the assumption of engineering roads first and foremost for cars.

    It’s not simply changing the law and expecting things to change.

    Of course not. It’s changing the law, enforcing that change, and *then* expecting things to change.

    You want to listen to politicians before you listen to engineers who know how to properly design roads.

    Heh. And which politician am I listening to again? Talking about the basic physics of car movement means “listening to politicians?” Hah. As far as your comment about “properly designing roads” goes, that’s more equivocation on your part. “Properly” is a matter of opinion. Politicians (and the
    general public) set the goals – whether to maximize high vehicle traffic or
    whether to maximize safety. Engineers then design roads to meet those goals
    after they are set.

  • Alicia

    You can’t make rules that make sense for people with great public
    transportation and apply them to people who don’t have great public
    transportation.

    You’re right, they don’t have great transit. They only have a pretty good one. Spend a week in a small town and try to get around without a car. When you come back you will be grateful for the transportation system in all of NYC, including the outer boroughs.

    That’s like size from now on only clothes in size medium will be made.

    That analogy makes no sense.

  • Alex_nma

    No different than a knife, a hammer an so many other everyday tools people safely use every single day. It takes more than the slightest error to take a life. It takes quite a bit of negligence to do that.

    NYC speed limits have been 30mph for the more than 50 years. It is only recently they were lowered. Now sure where you got that rising speed limits from. Not sure where you are from but 30mph is not a high speed. The fastest runners get pretty close to 30 and a human powered bicycle can go well above 30.

    You are putting the chicken before the egg. Streets need to be redesigned first. Enforcing a proper speed limit is necessary. Speed cameras are only proven to enrich the camera operators and often times, but not always, the cities that allow them.

    I like the way you want to classify safe drivers who want to get to their destination as safely and efficiently as possible as whiny drivers. Using your criteria we should also classify pedestrians as whiny.

  • Alex_nma

    Why don’t you ask the people in the outer boroughs what they think of their public transportation? My guess is you don’t liver there, otherwise you would not call it pretty good. We are not talking about small towns, we are talking about NYC.

    Oops, I hit send before proofreading my sentence. It doesn’t make a lot of sense the way I wrote it, but I think you understood what I meant to say, which is a good analogy. Basically, you can’t have a one size fits all solution. Different places have different needs.

    Since you mention small towns, you can be sure those small towns where most people driver do not have 25mph speed limits throughout the town.

  • Alicia

    Since you mention small towns, you can be sure those small towns where most people driver do not have 25mph speed limits throughout the town.

    Loads do.

    Basically, you can’t have a one size fits all solution. Different places have different needs.

    To run with the clothing analogy: Someone who can never buy new clothes at all and always has to rely on thrift shops is not going to be sympathetic with someone who complains that her new clothes are always one size too big or small.

  • I grew up in eastern Queens — in Queens Village, which borders Nassau County. As I grew up, I chafed at the remoteness from the subway and I craved a more urban environment; but I cannot honestly say that the public transport in QV was bad.

    We had plenty of buses. There were three bus lines along Hillside Avenue at the point where I lived, and that grew to five once you walked a few blocks west and crossed Francis Lewis Boulevard. And on Jamaica Avenue we had one bus line.

    Actually, that counts only the local buses. Throw in an express bus to Manhattan along Hillside Avenue.

    The local buses all connected us to Jamaica; we were connected to Flushing by means of one of the routes on Springfield Boulevard, and to Queens Center by means of the other line found on that street. And we could even get out to Roosevelt Field by means of one Nassau bus line on Hillside Avenue and one on Jamaica Avenue.

    While I was happy to escape eastern Queens for Woodhaven, a real urban locale where one subway line runs right in front of my building and another is a short walk away, the fact is that public transport in eastern Queens is plentiful.

    Of course that area would have been much better off if the Second System had been built, and if the E and F trains had been extended out along Hillside Avenue to the City line. (Maybe in that case I wouldn’t have felt the need to escape!) But, even as it is, with buses only, getting around that area of the City is very easy.

  • Joe R.

    I’ve lived in eastern Queens for 38 years without owning a car, or even having a driver’s license. I can count on one hand the number of times I needed to bum a ride off someone. You can get by just fine without driving here. It’s just a matter of making a conscious decision not to set your life up around a private automobile. Shop at the local grocery stores within walking distance, not the big box stores. Have heavy items delivered. Work in a place accessible to public transit, or just work at home like I do. Public transit here isn’t great, but it’s good enough to get you to most jobs in the city.

  • Joe R.

    I’d say the problem isn’t necessarily that we went too far raising urban speed limits, but rather that the speed limits are too high for the traffic volumes. Think for example of a country road. Most country roads are actually safer to cross than NYC streets despite the much higher speeds and lack of crosswalks or traffic control devices. Why? Low traffic volumes. It’s easy for a person crossing to find a natural gap in traffic long enough for them to safely cross. The only time crossing might be unsafe is if curves hinder lines of sight, preventing you from seeing oncoming vehicles. In that case then you might reduce speed limits in that area, or install a push-to-cross traffic signal. Other than those exceptions, crossing streets isn’t an issue.

    Until the 1960s or 1970s, traffic volumes on most NYC streets were low enough that you could often cross without an issue. It was safe back then to raise speed limits. Indeed, fairly low traffic volumes existed in places like eastern Queens even through perhaps the 1980s or early 1990s. Since then traffic volumes have just become insane nearly everywhere. With a virtual continuous stream of cars on many streets, it’s impossible to find gaps in traffic to cross. People try anyway, and get killed. This is why speeds now need to be reduced, although I’ll submit a better solution would be to reduce traffic volumes back to 1930s levels.

    The irony here is despite the increase in urban speed limits from perhaps 15 mph at the turn of the 20th century to 30 mph or more, average travel speeds were often less. Traffic volumes and higher speeds necessitated traffic signals. In the end this was a game of diminishing returns. NYC would be better off lowering speed limits to 20 mph, lowering traffic volumes, and getting rid of traffic signals. Getting around would be faster for everyone, much safer for those not in motor vehicles. The hard fact is large numbers of motor vehicles are just incompatible with the urban environment.

  • Joe R.

    You’re conflating one thing with another. The problem on the hypothetical street you mention isn’t the 25 mph speed limit, it’s the traffic lights. If you really want to take up a cause which might actually make the city safer and faster to get around, how about pushing NYC to remove unnecessary traffic lights? For decades NYC has misused traffic signals. Often the lights are deliberately improperly sequenced in a misguided attempt to slow drivers down. Other times there just isn’t any mathematical way to properly sequence them. Nevertheless, the heart of the problem is too many traffic signals, not too low of a speed limit. This is actually a place where drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians might find common ground. 75 years of experience shows traffic signals don’t make crossing any safer for pedestrians. They certainly don’t offer any benefit to cyclists. Indeed, quite the opposite when the NYPD uses them for ticket traps. They’re sometimes needed to keep cars from colliding with each other at busy intersections but often a roundabout is a much better answer, particularly where arterials intersect each other. Get behind removing unnecessary traffic signals. In NYC that might be upwards of 90% of them. Do that and most of the problems you complain about will solve themselves. You might even find a fair number of people here who will support this idea, starting with me.

  • Joe R.

    Note that a 2 ton car going 20 mph has the same kinetic energy as a 200 pound bike plus cyclist going 89 mph. Kinetic energy is a good proxy for damage potential. A really fast cyclist going about 30 mph is no more dangerous than a 2 ton car going about 7 mph.

    It takes more than the slightest error to take a life. It takes quite a bit of negligence to do that.

    That’s highly dependent upon the speed you’re driving at. If you’re only going 15 or 20 mph, it’s probably impossible to mount a sidewalk or otherwise easily kill a person without a major effort. On the other hand, a slight twitch of the steering wheel at 60 mph can easily send a vehicle flying off the road, with deadly consequences. The higher the speed, the smaller the margin of error. All it takes is a millimeter too much or too little steering input to send drivers into the wall at 200 mph at the Indy 500, for example.

  • Brad Aaron

    NYC’s speed camera contract specifies that the vendor does not make money based on the volume of tickets [1]. And actual data, published on Streetsblog and elsewhere, show the number of tickets in speed camera locations decreases over time [2].

    It makes complete sense to have a default speed limit. That way everyone knows what the rules are and the city can’t (reasonably) be accused of playing “gotcha” by having varying maximum speeds from street to street.

    For motorists, NYC’s speed camera program is about as painless as it gets. A $50 ticket with no license or insurance points, and no ticket at all unless the driver is speeding by at least 11 mph. And if you don’t want a ticket, don’t speed. Any grown-up should understand that.

    In 2014 the city adopted the Right of Way Law — with vocal and sustained support from TA — to address failure to yield. NYPD and the DAs have done a terrible job applying the law, and some of that falls on the mayor. But it’s simply not true that the city is ignoring failure to yield violations — which, by the way, are the second leading cause of pedestrian deaths, after speeding [3].

    Sorry I don’t have time to refute the rest of your inaccurate declarations.

    [1] http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/downloads/pdf/2014-10-speed-camera-faq.pdf
    [2] http://www.streetsblog.org/2015/02/25/nyc-speed-cameras-are-making-streets-safer-time-to-stop-holding-back/
    [3] http://dmv.ny.gov/statistic/2014-nyccrashsummary.pdf

  • Alex_nma

    Interesting idea. I can’t see this working at every intersection in the city as there just isn’t enough room at many intersections to create traffic circles. I can see these being valuable tools in certain places. A traffic engineer with experience with traffic circles in large cities would be the best person to recommend where in the city they might work best.

  • Alex_nma

    A bike does not have to be going that fast to seriously injure, or kill someone. In fact someone running bumping into someone else can do the same. A person who trips and falls and hits their head can sustain injuries that could kill them. Mark Shand, younger brother of Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, died from tripping and hitting his head.

    I guarantee you that anything over 5mph is fast enough to get over a sidewalk curb. I have purposely mounted a sidewalk at a walking pace.

    Cars on city streets for the most part, there are a few problem drivers out there doing stupid thing, travel at speeds substantially lower than 60mph. So that doesn’t apply.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    cars are no more Deadly than machine guns

  • Alexander Vucelic

    speed bumps everywhere

  • Joe R.

    Obviously you’re not making every intersection a roundabout. That would be ridiculous, and there wouldn’t be the room in many places. I’m thinking primarily intersections where arterials meet other arterials. In most of NYC you have 2 or 3 of those per mile. Doing this gets rid of a large number of traffic signals. You can also get rid of a lot of signals where minor streets intersect arterials. Often those signals weren’t justifiable by the usual warrants. They were just insisted upon by community boards in a misguided attempt to slow cars down. Remove them, put in street treatments which discourage speeding, like narrower lanes, and the problem is solved. You’ll still need some traffic signals, especially in places with blind spots, but my guess is we can get rid of at least 90% of them without impacting safety. Indeed, I think safety would be improved.

  • Alex_nma

    [1] A simple no answer. With no information on their agreement with the camera operator. There is more to that they are not sharing and there must be a reason for that. Every other camera location has the vendor getting fees based on ticket volume. Where they don’t get a per violation fee they usually have a minimum tickets issued system. The vendor get a flat fee based on X number of tickets issued. If the minimum is not hit, the city has to still pay the same fee. Anything above that number goes to the next tier. I think that is the contract the city has with the camera vendor and why they don’t give specifics.

    One more piece of misinformation in that document is the city touting how great radar is. What they fail to mention is that traffic radar, unlike the sophisticated radar used by the military and FAA, is that there is no target identification possible. They are guessing that the object in the picture is the object the radar measured.

    [2] Flawed methodology used to attribute drops in deaths to cameras even when the incidents occurred far from the camera location. They use 500 foot radius. That means something that occurs around the block can be attributed to the camera. They need to stick to incidents at the camera location themselves. Then we can start to believe their conclusions.

    [3] Lots of good data on that table. They mention 127 pedestrian deaths, but no mention what number were due to speed as a factor. Out of all crashes 14.4 percent are attributed to failure to yield the right of way. Unsafe speed is a factor in 7.2 percent of all crashes. So speed was a factor in 50% less crashes. If you look at deaths, you are right that slightly more have speed as a factor, 56 VS 48. BUT, if you look at the Pedestrian error/confusion category, 64 deaths are attributed to that category. So using that data you could conclude that pedestrians are their own worst enemy.

    You also have to wonder why the city is concentrating all their efforts on speed, where they can make money, as opposed to failure to yield to pedestrians, where there is no money to be made. The two categories are running very close.

  • Alex_nma

    Speed bumps are like using a hammer to drive a screw. It would also be cheaper to just completely neglect road maintenance. Same effect.

  • Alex_nma

    Can you convince the DOT to try that at some intersections to see if it works? Then they need to make sure they implement it properly. The few traffic circles I recall seeing in NYC all have traffic lights, which defeats the purpose fo the traffic circle, so I doubt the DOT could do it properly.

    Lastly, how does a pedestrian navigate an traffic circle? There is too much traffic in NYC to just say pedestrians can wait for a gap. That could be a really long time. Even though it may seem I am only pro-cars, I see that we need to factor in the needs of all road users when making these design decisions. You can’t just favor one group over all others.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    true

  • Joe R.

    The way roundabouts work is any vehicles entering the circle are required to yield to both pedestrians and vehicles already in the circle. The pedestrians don’t have to wait for a gap. They just start crossing, and the vehicles have to yield to them. In the beginning I would imagine we’ll have to enforce this to drill the message in. Or better yet see if we can put automated enforcement at roundabouts. At least the geometry of roundabouts forces motorists down to a safe speed. Any pedestrians they might hit stand a better chance of surviving. Remember here traffic lights fail miserably at protecting pedestrians. The majority of pedestrians killed in NYC are crossing in the crosswalk with the light. I think roundabouts can only make things better.

    Note that roundabouts are not the same as traffic circles ( http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/20090621/COLUMNIST/906211023 ). Traffic circles are proven failures at everything. Roundabouts are just the opposite.

    Yes, NYC has put traffic lights at roundabouts. Not surprising given that NYC never saw a traffic light it didn’t like. That’s an improper use but it’s easily fixed by forcing NYC DOT to follow best practices. We overuse stop signs also. Many stops signs should really be yield signs.

  • Alex_nma

    I know how they are SUPPOSED to work. As a pedestrian, I would be very wary to walk out and expect cars to stop. I know they are supposed to, but I don’t trust that all of them will always stop. Somewhere with low traffic volume can getaway with that. In NYC where certain areas have high traffic volume, that isn’t going to work.

  • Joe R.

    Traffic lights don’t work, either. The number of red light camera tickets given out shows drivers don’t reliably stop for red lights. Roundabouts would be more effective at getting drivers to yield to pedestrians because they’ll already be going at slow speeds before entering the roundabout out of pure self-interest—namely they don’t want to collide with vehicles already in the roundabout. Drivers are much more apt to yield to pedestrians when they’re going slowly. Numerous studies show that. They’re also much more likely to actually see pedestrians.

    Roundabouts also eliminate left turns. Left turns are one of the major ways pedestrians in this city get killed. When you tally up the pluses and minuses, roundabouts come out way ahead. Maybe they won’t work at some ultra-high volume streets in midtown but I think they’ll work great in most of the city.

  • Nonsense. Potholes caused by road neglect can cause damage even to cars travelling at slow speeds. And they are absolutely trecherous for bicycles.

    By contrast, speed bumps are shaped to allow for safe passage over them by cars travelling at the appropriate speed. And they can be sized in such a way as to allow bicycles to pass around them — or even through them, if they have a gap in the middle.

    Speed bumps are a very effective means of inducing proper speed-related behaviour for drivers. This solution should be much more widely utilised.

  • Joe R.

    It’s worth a mention if speed bumps have no pass throughs for bikes or room to go around they can eventually be just as dangerous to bikes as potholes. I’ve seen my share of unmaintained speed bumps where the leading slope starts crumbling off. In time you might have a sudden rise in the pavement of up to a few inches. Even worse, under poor streetlighting you often can’t see this defect until you’re almost on top of it. So if we’re going to have speed bumps, they should have gaps in the middle for bikes.

  • Alex_nma

    All speed bumps can damage cars. Many cars cannot safely go over a speed bump at the speed limit without damage to the car. You can see and hear clear evidence of this by listening to cars go over the bumps and you will hear them bottom out and scrape parts on the pavement. The areas before, on the bump and after the bump will also show evidence of cars bottoming out. Not to mention all the unnecessary wear and tear on vehicle suspensions. Lastly, they wreak havoc with emergency vehicles trying to get to an emergency.

    The only possibly acceptable use of speed bumps are in areas where the speed limit needs to be under 10mph. Every where else they are hazard and only an idiot for a traffic engineer would think they are appropriate. Same for those who believe humps, same a a bump, are any better. They are just as bad. If a vehicle can’t safely traverse the obstacle at the speed limit, they are dangerous.

  • Alex_nma

    NYC DOT don’t give a sh*t about cyclists! They put a speed bump in the idiotically designed bike lane on 158st between RSD and the highway. I’m sure they have done this same stupid move in other places. You can be sure there are no real bicycle riders who work their otherwise they would have easily seen all the problems, there are many besides the bump, with this particular bike lane.

  • Alex_nma

    Convince NYC DOT. It should be interesting.

  • Many cars cannot safely go over a speed bump at the speed limit without damage to the car.

    Solution: go slower.

    If a vehicle can’t safely traverse the obstacle at the speed limit, they are dangerous.

    Wrong. The purpose of speed bumps is to slow auto traffic on that section of the street to a crawl. The appropriate speed to drive over a speed bump is something like 5 miles per hour, regardless of the speed limit on the street as a whole.

  • fdtutf

    In addition, there’s no right to proceed at the speed limit regardless of conditions. It isn’t only speed bumps that should make drivers slow down.

  • Alex_nma

    Going slower is not a solution. That’s proof that bump is inappropriate.

    No, you are wrong. Learn a little about traffic engineering and road design before you type ignorant statements. There is never a reason to bring traffic to a crawl in one 12 foot span of road. If anything, a traffic bump has the opposite effect as most cars will brake hard just before and speed off right after. Thus having exactly the opposite effect.

    If the appropriate speed for the road is 5mph, then post it as such. Don’t so something as stupid as putting a speed bump in the road.

    I suggest you look through the Manual On Uniform Traffic Control Devices to get a clue on how to design roads.

  • Joe R.

    I’m mostly not a fan of speed bumps myself but in a way drivers have only themselves to blame for the proliferation of them. If more drivers just learned when it’s appropriate to go slow, and voluntarily did so, we wouldn’t have bothered with draconian solutions like speed bumps. Or putting stop signs on every block. Arguably both often make things worse other than in their immediate vicinity, but my point remains. If people didn’t drive like apes, we might engineer streets more to take into account driver’s judgement.

  • Alex_nma

    I see what you are saying. But the truth is it is only a tiny percentage of drivers act that way. So you are designing to the lowest common denominator, which is stupid. In NYC with such a large population a tiny percentage adds up to a big number.

    The current way of setting traffic laws to maximize profit are to blame for some of the bad driver behavior you see all the time. A speed limit should be the upper speed most drivers would driver under ideal road conditions. Since money hungry politicians are more interested in making money they set low speed limits so that when they need some extra cash they send out the cops to enforce the limit and make more money for the government. Because of this drivers now treat speed limits as recommended travel speeds instead of limits.

    Ever more powerful cars are actually safer cars as they allow you to get out of dangerous situations in a hurry. Those cars also have much more powerful brakes and better tires that when appropriate let you brake quicker and turn quicker to avoid accidents. Wimpy cars are more dangerous in many ways.

    What this really all points to is a lack of appropriate driver training and greed politicians egging on ignorant people to support dumb laws that are there to make money and not improve safety. If safety was the true goal they would start by making it harder to get a license and then test on a regular basis. But if that was done politicians would not be able to selectively tax drivers the way they do now.

  • Alex_nma

    Correct, you should drive at a speed appropriate for the conditions regardless of what the speed limit is. BUT, speed limits should be set for ideal conditions and when you have ideal conditions you should be able to drive the speed limit without fear of damaging your vehicle. If a section of road warrants a lower speed, then the speed limit needs to be adjusted at the section.

    They make as much sense as putting hurdles on a sidewalk and expecting everyone to navigate the hurdles. Dumb idea implemented by dumb people.

  • fdtutf

    A speed bump is a condition. Drive accordingly.

  • Alex_nma

    stupid, unnecessary and and one that leads to the opposite of the intended results. One has to wonder which brain dead person would recommend them?

  • Joe R.

    With low driver licensing standards powerful cars are dangerous in the hands of most drivers. It’s interesting to note that a car which is average by today’s standards is faster than a race car was 50 or 60 years ago. More powerful brakes are good but the situations you need more power to avoid collisions are rare, almost nonexistent on urban streets. If we’re going to have powerful cars you should have a graduated license system with more training before you can drive them. We might start with a basic license which lets you drive a 20 HP per ton vehicle. The next tier might be 30 or 40 HP/ton, and so forth. Each tier requires more training and testing to qualify. As it gets more difficult, fewer people will be able to qualify.

  • fdtutf

    stupid, unnecessary and and one that leads to the opposite of the intended results

    …because all too many drivers aren’t capable of adapting their driving to conditions, or simply refuse to do so.

  • Alex_nma

    No, drivers adapt quite well. But not the way the idiots were hoping for. They brake suddenly before the bump and then speed off after the bump. That’s what happens when you use the wrong tool for the job. You can use a hammer to drive in a screw, but you can only do it so many times before the hole becomes useless. So if what you want is drivers speeding off after the bump, then the bump is appropriate. Not to mention that his affects emergency vehicles trying to get an emergency in the same way. They also risk damage to their vehicles.

    If the street warrants a lower speed, then lower the speed limit.

  • fdtutf

    No, drivers adapt quite well. But not the way the idiots were hoping for. They brake suddenly before the bump and then speed off after the bump.

    Which, with enough good will, could be called “adapting,” but it certainly is not adapting well.

    If the street warrants a lower speed, then lower the speed limit.

    You say that as if it would work.

  • fdtutf

    I guarantee you that anything over 5mph is fast enough to get over a sidewalk curb. I have purposely mounted a sidewalk at a walking pace.

    The point is precisely that you did that purposely. At lower speeds, even if you make an error, you have time to correct it before disaster ensues. At higher speeds, you often don’t.

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