Subscribe for FREE with:

Source: formulanone/Flickr

Mayor Bill de Blasio won a victory in Albany early this morning when both houses of the state legislature gave the green light to lowering the New York City speed limit from 30 miles per hour to 25 miles per hour.

After concerns earlier this week that Senate Republicans could prevent the bill from coming to a vote, it passed overwhelmingly in both houses and has been sent to Governor Andrew Cuomo for his signature.

The measure is a key item of de Blasio’s Vision Zero initiative, which seeks to make streets safer and eliminate traffic deaths citywide. Several of the initiative’s proposals require approval from state lawmakers, including speed limits and the installation of speed cameras.

The idea was first floated by the mayor earlier this year, but received a tepid response from lawmakers. It became increasingly politicized, with Senate Republicans threatening to block it from coming to a vote as retribution for de Blasio’s calls for returning that legislative body to Democratic control. Senator Andrew Lanza, a Republican representing Staten Island, suggested as recently as yesterday afternoon that he would oppose the measure if it did not fold in his proposal to require stop signs be installed around all city schools.

Ultimately, de Blasio and traffic safety advocates won out in a down-to-the-wire vote during the season’s final legislative session in the capital. The bill was passed 106-13 by the Assembly in a late night session, while the Senate took it up early in the morning, passing it 58-2.

An earlier version of the bill called for the speed limit to be reduced to 20 miles per hour, but was quickly squashed by legislative leaders.

Related posts

  • 1ifbyrain2ifbytrain

    Twenty (mph) is Plenty!

  • Mat50

    this just hammers home the fact that Republicans will reflexively do anything to negate a non-Republican, even in the best interests of their constituency.

  • busboy

    Okay, I don’t get this. What is the point of lowering the speed limit to 25 mph and making us all drive so damn slow?!?!?

    Instead of slowing down the traffic everywhere, the city needs to start ticketing pedestrians who cross when they’re not supposed to, or cross without paying attention to what the hell they’re doing. That’s where the real problem is. If they would just shape up, they wouldn’t get killed.

    • Andrew

      Actually, according to police reports (which I strongly suspect are heavily biased in favor of motorists), in 53% of pedestrian fatalities in NYC, the pedestrian has done nothing wrong – either he is crossing legally or he is not crossing at all. In another 17% of pedestrian fatalities, the pedestrian and the motorist share the blame. That leaves only 30% of pedestrian fatalities in which the motorist (supposedly) did nothing wrong.

      Also, pedestrian fatalities occur at a highly disproportionate rate on arterial streets, where vehicle speeds tend to be high. Lowering those speeds is a necessary step toward reducing pedestrian fatalities.

      Your suggestion of ticketing pedestrians would have little if any impact. Pedestrians already have a very strong incentive to not risk their own lives. What we need now is an incentive for motorists to not risk pedestrians’ lives.

      • busboy

        That’s a bunch of BS and you know it. When I’m driving around the city, I see these pedestrians all the time who are in their own world, heads down, buried in their phones or their music. That’s why they get hit. Sure, you have the occasional driver who’s reckless, but for the most part it’s the pedestrians’ own damn fault when they get hit.

        And DON’T even get me started on the cyclists.

        • Andrew

          That’s a bunch of BS and you know it.

          What I know is that many New York City drivers play fast and loose with the rules of the road – and then whine incessantly when the city tries to take control of the situation.

          When I’m driving around the city, I see these pedestrians all the time who are in their own world, heads down, buried in their phones or their music. That’s why they get hit.

          When I’m walking around the city, I see these motorists all the time, taking liberties with the rules that are in place to protect pedestrians – cutting off pedestrians in crosswalks, running red lights, speeding, you name it. (Oh, and they sometimes have their heads buried in their phones – which, unlike for pedestrians, is actually illegal.)

          Sure, it’s a good idea for pedestrians to watch out while crossing the street for scofflaw motorists about to cut then off. But if a scofflaw motorist cuts off and kills an inattentive pedestrian, the motorist is 100% at fault.

          Some reading (not while you’re driving, please):
          http://www.nyc.gov/html/visionzero/pdf/nyc-vision-zero-action-plan.pdf http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/downloads/pdf/nyc_ped_safety_study_action_plan.pdf
          http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/downloads/pdf/trafrule.pdf

          And DON’T even get me started on the cyclists.

          Motorists kill more pedestrians in a week than cyclists kill in a decade. I of course don’t object to ticketing cyclists when they break the rules, but any targeted enforcement against cyclists is a gross misallocation of limited enforcement resources.

          • busboy

            All I know is that I don’t see why I should have to slow down to 25 mph and watch out for these morons who obviously DON’T care about their own safety. 25 mph is ridiculously slow; people need to get where they’re going.

          • Andrew

            The law states explicitly that motorists are required to exercise due care to avoid colliding with a pedestrian, even if the pedestrian is in the wrong. I’m sorry if you don’t like the law.

            But that’s beside the point that I was making (which you seem to have ignored entirely), which is that most pedestrians killed in traffic are not in the wrong in the first place – they’re crossing the street with the light or at a stop sign or uncontrolled intersection, or they’re even standing on the sidewalk.

            A five mile drive at a steady 25 mph takes a whopping two minutes longer than that same drive at a steady 30 mph. In practice, you will almost certainly have to slow down at some point along that drive, for a red light or due to a bit of minor or major congestion, so the actual impact will be significantly less than two minutes. I’m sorry you think 25 mph is “ridiculously slow” (mind you, it’s still many times the speed of pedestrians), but the increase in actual travel times will be very small.

          • busboy

            “I’m sorry you think 25 mph is ‘ridiculously slow’ (mind you, it’s still many times the speed of pedestrians), but the increase in actual travel times will be very small.”

            The comparison with pedestrian speeds isn’t really relevant — if I wanted to travel that slow, I’d walk. I drive because I need to get where I’m going quicker. You may think the travel time increases will be small, but if you’re not experiencing them yourself, you really don’t know.

          • Andrew

            Seriously? There’s this nifty thing called mathematics that can be applied to various and sundry situations to predict outcomes in advance, subject to the quality of the assumptions.

            It takes (5/30)x60 = 10 minutes to travel 5 miles at 30 mph. It takes (5/25)x60 = 12 minutes to travel 5 miles at 30 mph. That’s a difference of 2 minutes.

            Of course, the assumptions aren’t perfect. In fact, it’s highly unlikely, on a city street, that you’ll make it 5 miles in so little time, because you’re almost certainly going to be delayed by traffic and by red lights. And whenever you’re restricted to 25 mph or less by outside conditions, there’s no effective difference between a 25 mph limit and a 30 mph limit. So, in fact, the 2 minute differential is an upper bound.

            Not all pedestrians remain pedestrians for their entire trip. In fact, every driver and bus ride and subway rider starts and ends each trip as a pedestrian.

          • busboy

            “It takes (5/30)x60 = 10 minutes to travel 5 miles at 30 mph. It takes (5/25)x60 = 12 minutes to travel 5 miles at 30 mph. That’s a difference of 2 minutes.”

            Which is it? 10 minutes or 12 to travel 5 miles at 30 mph?

            Since driving rarely involves constant speeds, actual travel time differences can rarely be calculated using simple math.

          • Andrew

            Which is it? 10 minutes or 12 to travel 5 miles at 30 mph?

            Good catch – I inadvertently typed 30 mph for the second case as well as the first. It’s 10 minutes at 30 mph or 12 minutes at 25 mph. (I’ll go back and edit my earlier comment – thanks.)

            Since driving rarely involves constant speeds, actual travel time differences can rarely be calculated using simple math.

            Precisely! As I said, actual prevailing speeds are often lower than 25 mph, and whenever the prevailing speed is less than 25, it makes no difference whether the speed limit is 25 or 30. The two minute difference is an absolute upper bound; in real life, the difference would typically be significantly less than two minutes.

          • busboy

            Well, no, because driving is subject to step effects due to traffic signals, etc. The calculations aren’t as simple as you want to make them. Two minutes is definitely not an absolute upper bound.

          • May

            Dayum Andrew.. you killen it…

  • vintagejames

    Need to get where you’re going? Leave on time. Pedestrians carelessly walking are a big problem. But we drivers have to step up and take an iinitiative to make everything saver for everyone.

    • http://www.sheepsheadbites.com/ Ned Berke

      What was that? Sorry, I had trouble reading it because of the pig flying in front of my screen. :P

      • vintagejames

        What is wrong with your screen? Seriously.

        I’m just interested in safety for everyone.

        • http://www.sheepsheadbites.com/ Ned Berke

          I was just beside myself by the extraordinary sensibility of such a comment.