Lowering New York City's speed limit from 30 to 25 mph is a major prong in Mayor Bill de Blasio's Vision Zero plan. But the state legislature controls this power, and our representatives have until Thursday to pass a law that would grant it to the city. While the Assembly has its own bill lowering the speed limit, State Senator Jeff Klein, who sponsored the successful speed camera legislation earlier this year, proposed a watered-down version last week that had lane restrictions and other measures impeding a swift change. Late last night, Klein introduced a different version that some advocates say could significantly hamper Vision Zero.
Klein's new bill no longer has the lane limitations, and does not explicitly require Community Board approval to lower the speed limit by more than five miles an hour.
But the bill does mandate the DOT provide "written notice and an opportunity to comment to the community board," essentially maintaining this hurdle of bureaucracy for dangerous roads such as Northern Boulevard, Queens Boulevard, Pelham Parkway, and West Street, areas where the DOT had already planned to designate as arterial slow zones.
The new bill also continues to require the DOT to install infrastructural traffic-calming measures to streets with a speed limit of 20 mph, versus simply adding signage.
The Assembly bill removes this hard rule, and the DOT has also expressed support for removing it in the past, but a source familiar with the Senate negotiations tells us that the Mayor's office agreed to let the provision stand.
Streetsblog reporter Stephen Miller deemed Klein's bill "not as good" as its Assembly counterpart, "but much better than Klein's proposal last week."
“Both provisions are a slap in the face to grieving families and indeed the whole livable streets community,” Stephan says.
"Our community boards are on the frontlines of local concerns each and everyday and know their streets best, which is why they deserve to have a voice in this process,” Senator Klein says in a statement, which includes words of support from seven Community Board members in Klein's Bronx district. "This legislation supports his life-saving vision and is aimed at reducing the high number of traffic related injuries and deaths each year."