The City Council, having finally received permission from the state legislature, voted today to lower NYC's default speed limit from 30 mph to 25 mph in all areas where a speed limit is not posted. Expressways, parkways, and other roads managed by the State Department of Transportation will not be affected, but complete streets advocates see the new speed limit as a long overdue improvement. Now Mayor de Blasio just needs to sign the bill, and the NYPD can start enforcing it (chortle).
According to the City Council, speed was the single greatest contributing factor in traffic deaths that occurred in NYC in 2012. Pedestrian fatalities are down 22 percent compared to last year, but the DOT says drivers have killed twice as many cyclists compared to this point in 2013. 17 cyclists have been killed so far this year.
As previously reported, a pedestrian hit at 30 mph has a one in five chance of being killed, but a collision at 25 mph decreases the pedestrian's odds of death to one in 10. At 25 mph, a motorist's stopping distance is improved by 45 feet.
If signed by de Blasio (as expected), the new speed limit will take effect on November 7th. At a hearing earlier this month, Queens Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer urged the DOT to work with the NYPD to hold drivers accountable. "The truth is enforcement is needed,” Van Bramer said. “The enforcement piece is ultimately what will change the culture and behavior of drivers."
Transportation Alternatives lauded the new speed limit, while also encouraging the mayor to move forward with his plan to redesign "arterial‟ streets. "These dangerous corridors are the site of more than half of the pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities in New York City, even though they make up only 15 percent of the road network," the group said in a statement.