A bid to lower the city's default speed limit from 30 to 25 mph has passed the state Assembly and Senate, leaving it only to be signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo, which he is expected to do.
“This bill will make sure that the city of New York streets are safer,” said the bill's sponsor, State Senator Jeff Klein. A memo issued this week notes that a pedestrian hit at 30 mph has a one in five chance of being killed, versus a pedestrian hit at 25 mph, at which point the odds of death plummet to one in 10. Additionally, a vehicle's stopping distance at 25 mph is improved by 45 feet, which will prevent many crashes from happening in the first place.
The bill does contain a caveat that requires input from local community boards in instances where the DOT is considering lowering speed limits by more than 5 mph—say, on major thoroughfares like Northern Boulevard, Queens Boulevard, Pelham Parkway, and West Street, which are currently 35 mph.
In the case of arterial roadways like these, DOT must allow for 60 days of public comment before lowering the speed limit to 25 mph. This represents significantly less strident language than the proposal set forth by Klein last week, which initially gave community boards "veto power"—a term that was ultimately dropped from the legislation.
Additionally, speed cameras will now issue tickets at 35 mph instead of 40 mph. The legislature in April passed a bill allowing the installation of 140 total speed cameras, which can only issue tickets if a driver is traveling 10 mph over the posted limit. Lowering the ticketing speed ensures that the maximum number of speeding drivers are fined.
Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito lauded the successful passage of the legislation.
“Every life lost to traffic violence is one too many, and this common sense legislation is long overdue. By allowing New York City to set its own speed limit to 25 mph, this law will slow cars down and save countless lives,” she said in a statement."