NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — State lawmakers have voted to let New York City lower its citywide speed limit to 25 miles per hour.
The state Assembly approved the city’s request late Thursday and the Senate followed suit early Friday morning as the Legislature worked to adjourn their six-month session.
The city’s speed limit is currently 30 mph. Mayor Bill de Blasio had sought the state’s permission to lower it by 5 miles per hour as part of a traffic safety campaign.
“This is a huge step forward as we work to save lives and make our streets safer,” de Blasio said in a statement. “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.”
However, Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg added, “It does not mean that every street in New York will be going to 25 mph. We will be looking at streets. Some streets may be higher; some streets, including those around schools, the speed limit could be lower.”
Traffic deaths have fallen sharply from 701 in 1990 to 286 last year, but de Blasio has proposed several measures to reduce the number further.
Last month, the City Council approved a package of traffic safety bills, which included the creation of more slow zones and tougher penalties on reckless motorists and cab drivers.
“Pedestrian fatality is a crises,” said City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, chair of the transportation committee. “An epidemic we can control and eradicate.”
“If the drivers of New York slow down and obey the speed limit and stop running red lights and the city collects no revenue, I’ll consider it a victory,” Trottenberg said.
But is 5 miles per hour really enough to make a difference? Many New Yorkers seemed split on the idea.
“It’s gonna make this a little more congested. People still won’t pay attention to the speed limits,” said Jamie King of Selden, N.Y.
“Very good idea,” Upper West Side resident Myran Negron said. “There’s always a lot of accidents here.”
“Twenty-five is very hard,” said taxi driver Debasish Das. “Yellow cab cannot drive very slow.”
“Slow it down and it would be better for everyone,” another man said.
The mayor’s office said the speed limit decrease could reduce pedestrian fatalities by 10 percent.
The measure will next go to Gov. Andrew Cuomo for his signature.
Before the law takes effect there will be a driver education campaign and signs will be posted throughout the five boroughs. The thing for drivers to remember is this: if there is no sign the speed limit will be 25, CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reported.
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