NYC Council Members to Albany: We Need a 20 MPH Speed Limit

Wednesday, February 26, 2014 – 01:47 PM

Source: TransportationNation

A 20mph sign in Brooklyn, installed by safe streets activists (bikepeacenyc/flickr)

A 20mph sign in Brooklyn, installed by safe streets activists (bikepeacenyc/flickr)

Continuing the city’s push for more autonomy over local speed limits, two City Council members have introduced a resolution calling on Albany to change the law—and allow the city to set its default speed to 20mph.

“In the interest of pedestrian safety, the City’s unposted speed limit should be lowered and the City should be given the authority to determine appropriate speed limits,” reads the text of the resolution, to be introduced in City Council Wednesday by members Ydanis Rodriguez (who chairs the council’s transportation committee) and Stephen Levin.

Currently, state law generally prevents localities from setting speed limits lower than 30 mph, which is the city’s existing speed limit. And that has been a source of frustration for city officials in recent years (Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he’d back efforts to lower the city’s speed limit). Earlier this month, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that lowering the speed limit to 25 is a cornerstone of his ‘Vision Zero‘ plan.

Wiley Norvell, a spokesman for Mayor de Blasio, said “we’re committed to working collaboratively with our colleagues in the Council and Albany like Assemblyman O’Donnell to reduce speeding and make streets safer. We’re willing to hear out any and all ideas of how to accomplish that.”

The City Council resolution, while symbolic, is a formal show of support for a billsponsored by Assemblyman Daniel O’Donnell and State Senator Martin Dilan that would “reduce(s) the speed limit in the city of New York to 20 miles per hour, except where a different speed is determined appropriate and is indicated by an official sign.”

In a statement, Council Member Stephen Levin said “the data is conclusive: slower speeds decrease the probability that someone will be seriously injured or killed in a crash…and we as New Yorkers refuse to stand by and let another person be killed in traffic. By reducing speed limits in New York City we will save lives and achieve the goals of Vision Zero.”

“Speed kills, plain and simple,” said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez. “Whether here or in Albany, we as legislators have a responsibility to protect the lives of our constituents. Easily avoidable traffic deaths are devastate our city and we must be given the tools to prevent them. When lives are at stake, death is the price of inaction.”

Once formally introduced, the resolution is expected to get a hearing, then eventually be voted on by the City Council.

In 2013, 286 people died in traffic crashes in New York City.

Read the text of the resolution, below.

Speed Limit Resolution


I can get behind this proposal 1,000%. Protected Bike Lanes? “meh“.

To put this in terms that a Liberal can understand, consider the recent outcry over the shootings in New Town, Connecticut. The usual sorts of blather ensued. Some folks wanted gun control, others seeing that the NRA had too much backing in Congress decided to demand greater scrutiny of the owners themselves. Fat lot of good that would do. The problem is that none of these measures really takes guns out of the hands of either criminals or disturbed shooters bent on getting their way over some imagined grievance.

Milton Friedman suggested a rather unpopular measure decades ago when we as a nation were considering a War On Drugs. We turned down his idea in favor of supposedly sending drug users to prison, no questions asked. What that turned out to be was a way to ship niggers off to prison. Thousands of people of color went to prisons and wasted away in them over the use of some as innocuous as a bit of weed.

I can imagine how these folks must feel knowing that today you can buy medical marijuana in legal shops and even if you are not sick you can use it recreationally in at least two states right now. So instead we have blacks in prison being supported by tax dollars for something they could do legally had they been wise enough to wait until the public decided that weed was not the desperate gateway drug it was claimed to be.

Oh and what was the idea floated by Milton Friedman, wait for it… Make drugs legal and tax the heck out of them. Let the state control the use of the drug in the same fashion as it does for alcohol and tobacco. Everyone wins. Instead we went for the Protected Bike Lane approach and decided upon mandatory incarceration. How’s that working out for your state?

At The Crossroads, Once Again

Today’s “do-gooders” are shucking and jivving all over the place. On the one hand they tell us that PBL will make sunshine flow out of our anuses and sweet music will sound throughout the land. The death rate from traffic accidents will result from the separation of those evil cars from the guiltless cyclists. And even pedestrians will rejoice at no longer being the targets of those evil internal combustion engines.

But a single season in New York made it clear that this was not the case. So back to the drawing board and we decide to “lower the bar” a bit to simply aim for “bicycle comfort“. Yep, that will do it. All we need are more females on the street in the PBLs across the country and surely the logic of “safety in numbers” will once again bring the aforementioned sunshine from our collective anuses and KC and the Sunshine Band will provide the background music.

But like so many climate deniers, we cyclists simply refuse to allow pure science to step in an save our bacon. We are as a group collectively stupid enough to believe (in the fashion of the most rigid Tea Party members on the subject of Global Warming) that “Bikes Don’t Kill, Cars Do“. And we sing this song of nonsense endlessly despite the scalps we have on our collective belts following collisions with pedestrians by cyclists.

Stop The Madness

Planters and pretty green paint and stupid PVC bollards will not stop a car that careens into the bike lane. What will reduce injuries once and for all is to lower the speed of ALL vehicles to something under 20 MPH. If overnight we simply tried lowering the speed limits in every city across the country to 15 MPH we could go a very long way towards the Vision Zero idea proposed out by the mayor of New York City.

If you really want to spend some money they buy traffic cameras that dispense tickets like Kool-Aid to drivers who exceed a 20 MPH speed limit. And while you are at it restore the Intersection Cameras that got everyones knickers in a twist. Make it a felony to receive more than three of these tickets for either speeding or blocking intersections in a given 365-day period and I will guarantee that results will ensue.

Friedman Was Right

When it comes to gun violence you simply have to control the weaponry by making it less than economical for anyone other than the state. So in keeping with the United States Constitution you allow anyone who wants a gun to buy one, maybe two or even three. But you control the supply of ammunition. You make a bullet so expensive that anyone willing to shoot off a few rounds had better not waste their ammo on something like beer bottles.

Likewise we need to get over the pretty green paint syndrome and control the problem at its source. Make it very expensive to operate a 500 HP engine within the city limits at speeds above 15 MPH.