According to WNYC's count, 112 pedestrians, 17 cyclists, and 85 motorists and their passengers have been killed on the city's streets this year. As part of his Vision Zero initiative, Mayor de Blasio recently signed a bill to lower the speed limit to 25 mph, beginning on Friday. But who will think of the New Yorkers who let their blind rage compromise their ability to operate heavy machinery? What of the middle-finger-flyers, the bitter fist-shakers, the spittle-flecked hecklers? Who will speak for the Road Ragers?
Denis Hamill, who knows a thing or two about pretending to know a thing or two about traffic as it relates to city planning, can empathize with the caricature of the profane outer-borough driver, because he is one.
I was running late last Thursday morning driving my kid to school through the streets of Queens with a car in front of me moving at the speed of bureaucracy.
“I’m gonna be late,” my son said.
“This clown is slower than a glacier,” I screamed.
I honked. The guy didn’t accelerate. “He has two speeds,” I shouted. “Drop dead and rigor mortis.”
My speedometer read: 25 mph.
We are then treated to a rarity in the world of tabloid editorializing: self-awareness.
I sat for a moment before pulling out, decompressing from the kind of New York minute that can kill you from stress or a reckless road accident. Maybe the guy in front of me wasn’t the clown, I thought. Maybe I was. Maybe this 25-mph speed limit was a good one.
Hamill bravely drives around the city traveling a mere 25 mph, and says he is constantly harassed by faster drivers. He name checks the Boulevard of Death and soberly mentions the 150 pedestrians and cyclists injured or killed there last year, all while speeding motorists call him an "asshole."
Will Hamill admit that bitching about "$4-a-gallon gas, ticket blitzes and ever-mounting tolls" seems petty and selfish next to the hundreds of New Yorkers who perish every year because of preventable behavior? Has a NYC driver with a widely-read news column finally realized that lowering the limit by 5 mph will have a negligible impact on getting to your destination but a huge impact on the survival rate of an injured pedestrian?
The cacophonous horns of New York were so loud and angry that I started to laugh.
I turned left onto 88th St., cruising to East End Ave., which was eerily traffic-free. Inside Gracie Mansion lived Mayor de Blasio, who on Nov. 7 pumps the city's brakes to 25 mph in an effort to save lives. We might lose a few to road rage in the transition, but come Friday, it’s the law.