Mayor Insists Change Is About Safety, Though Others Think It Could Be A Money-Grab


NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It’s the law, 25 mph or else.

City Department of Transportation crews were out Friday putting up new signs to replace those showing higher speed limits.

The new default speed limit applies to all streets where no other limit is posted. Highways like the FDR, West Side Highway and Riverside Drive will still have higher limits and school zones will have lower limits.

The 25 mph limit also does not apply to the following streets and parkways: Webster Avenue and Mosholu Parkway in the Bronx; Hylan Boulevard and Richmond Terrace on Staten Island; Fort Hamilton Parkway and Ocean Avenue in Brooklyn; and Utopia Parkway and Bell and Springfield boulevards in Queens.

DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said the first 89 signs will be going up at “key gateways to the city.”

“Over the course of the next year, we are going to be putting up around 3,000 signs, so we really are going to try and make sure that New Yorkers are aware,” she told WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb.

The city will also be recalibrating its thousands of traffic signals.

“With regards to signal re-timing, as part of DOT’s normal work, we review corridors to see if re-timing is necessary,” a DOT spokesperson told CBS2’s Marcia Kramer.

Mayor Bill de Blasio signed a measure last month reducing the city’s default speed limit from 30 mph to 25 mph after it was passed by the City Council as part of the mayor’s “Vision Zero” plan to reduce traffic deaths.

Trottenberg said last year 291 people died in New York City in traffic-related accidents. She said research shows even a five mile per hour reduction in speed will make a difference.

“When you lower the speed limit from 30 to 25, if there’s a collision, you cut in half the chances it will result in a fatality,” Trottenberg said Thursday.

The deaths of pedestrians like 12-year-old Sammy Cohen Eckstein, who was killed by a speeding driver last October, prompted lawmakers and de Blasio to take action.

“I think there’s a real consensus in this town that we need to have people drive more carefully, more safely and slower for the protection of our kids, our seniors,” he told reporters Thursday.

But some drivers aren’t happy with the new speed limit.

“I think it’s just a catch 22 to make some more money for the city,” Alberto Rodriguez said.

“From 30 to 25 mph, I don’t think is that big a difference for commuters to help lives and the safety of everybody,” Roseanne Vitale told CBS2’s Janelle Burrell. “It’s not that big of a deal.”

Others applauded the move.

“Hopefully it’ll make a difference,” cyclist Danny Davis said.

“I think it’s a good effort,” one man told 1010 WINS’ Glenn Schuck. “I think it’s a move in the right direction.”

De Blasio said he believes people will embrace the new reduced speed limit.

“We’ll be doing a lot of public education over the coming months, we’ll be doing a lot of warnings and obviously enforcement over time,” he said.

De Blasio also said he’s been very pleased with the response to his “Vision Zero” plan, saying 24 fewer pedestrians have been killed so far this year in New York City.

But Robert Sinclair with AAA New York said the safety message may be watered down by a blanket approach, WCBS 880’s Paul Murnane reported.

“We have seen recurring crashes, accidents, fatalities involving pedestrians, but at certain specific locations and we think the use of the lowered speed limits should be site specific,” he said.

The DOT commissioner noted that the city’s speed limit was 25 mph until the state Legislature increased it 50 years ago.

If caught speeding, drivers could face a $150 ticket if pulled over or a $50 fine if caught on a traffic camera.

But DOT officials say the new speed limit is about saving lives and not about increasing revenue for the city.

“We want to do sensible, fair enforcement,” Trottenberg said. “We’re not trying to nail someone who is going 26 miles an hour.”

For more information about the new speed limit, click here.

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