Currently, the city’s speed limit is 30 mph, but the mayor, numerous council members and countless advocates have been pushing for a reduction to 25 mph for months.
Finally, late last Thursday, the Assembly and State Senate passed a bill in favor of lowering the speed limit.
“This is a huge step forward as we work to save lives and make our streets safer,” de Blasio said. “Reducing speeding is a critical element of our Vision Zero initiative, and we applaud the State Legislature for empowering New York City to lower speed limits and better protect our people.”
In New York City, vehicle collisions are the number one cause of injury-related death for children and the second leading cause of death for senior citizens.
Council member and Transportation Committee Chair Ydanis Rodriguez said that lowering the speed limit, even 5 mph, increases the chances of someone surviving an automobile accident.
A pedestrian hit by a car going 25 mph has a 90 percent chance of surviving.
“It means so much to so many that they got this done before closing session,” Rodriguez said. “A 25 mph speed limit across the city will prevent more death on our streets and ensure drivers take more care when they are behind the wheel.”
City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito agreed, saying the bill will “save countless lives.”
“Every life lost to traffic violence is one too many, and this common sense legislation is long overdue,” she said.
Members of Families for Safe Streets, a group of advocates who have loved ones who have either been killed or injured in traffic incidents, have been working hard on the legislation, traveling to Albany and speaking to numerous politicians.
Founding member Amy Cohen, who lost her son Sammy in the fall of last year, said she hoped this would be the first step in a cultural shift around street safety in the city.
“Families for Safe Streets is obviously very pleased the bill passed. It is our hope that reducing the default speed limit is a first step in changing the way people think about and interact on our streets,” Cohen said. “As family members who have lost loved ones in traffic collisions, we know all too well that life is fragile and great care must be taken when driving in our city filled with pedestrians and bicyclists.”
Not all people are pleased about the legislation, however.
Rob Astorino, who is campaigning against Andrew Cuomo to be the next governor of New York, scoffed in a recent press release about the legislature “lowering the speed limit in a traffic-choked city where you're lucky to go five-miles-an-hour.”
The legislation must now be signed by Cuomo, which de Blasio said he knows will happen but is not sure when. The City Council will also have to pass enabling legislation, and then in the fall, new speed limit signs will start to go up.
There will be an education campaign leading up to when the signs are being put up, and then enforcement of the new speed limit will begin immediately as the new signs are posted.
“We’re very adamant that once the signs go up, enforcement will be adjusted accordingly,” de Blasio said.