NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – New York City officials say the coronavirus pandemic has prompted a speeding crisis on the roads, leading to more fatalities this year than all of last year.

On Tuesday, there was a drastic change: The city is lowering the speed limits, and more.

As CBS2’s Lisa Rozner reports, there have been less cars but more reckless behavior.

Another solution is doubling down on speed cameras, which are already in every single school zone. By next year, the one located at 72nd Street and Central Park West will be one of nearly 2,000 citywide.

Riverside Drive is more like Riverside raceway, say some Washington Heights residents.

“They race down here 50, 60, 80 miles an hour – especially at night,” said resident Elicia Hunter.

But soon, from 165th Street to 181st Street, the Department of Transportation will lower the speed limit from 30 to 25 miles per hour.

“I think it’s a great idea,” Hunter said.

It goes into effect when new speed limit signs go up over the next 4-6 weeks. The change will also be implemented on the following roadways:

Brooklyn:

  • Flatbush Ave from Grand Army Plaza to Empire Boulevard, .8 mile
  • Shore Parkway Service Road from Bay 8th Street to Plumb 3rd Street, 4.8 miles
  • Dahlgren Place from 86th Street to 92nd Street, .3 miles

Manhattan:

  • Riverside Drive from 165th Street to 181st Street, .8 mile

Bronx:

  • Bruckner Blvd from East 135th Street to Pelham Bay Park, 6.5 miles
  • Webster Ave from East 233 Street to East Gun Hill Road, 1.2 miles

Queens:

  • Rockaway Blvd from 150th Ave to 3rd Street (Nassau County border), 2.5 miles (40 mph to 35 mph)
  • Northern Blvd from 114th Street to Glenwood Street (Nassau County border), 7 miles

Staten Island:

  • Targee Street from West Fingerboard Rd to Broad St, 1.8 miles (30 MPH to 25 MPH)

Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg says it’s in response to the soaring death rate: 70 vehicle and motorcycle occupants have died this year alone.

“The main reason has been speeding,” Trottenberg said. “A pedestrian is twice as likely to be unfortunately fatally struck by a car going 30 mph as a car going 25 mph.”

“I’ve been nearly hit numerous times,” said Mike Rodriguez, who crosses the Bruckner daily. “Because they got people who want to beat the light on the yellow… and the bicyclists have no respect for the cars, and they’re speeding.”

Trottenberg says current speed camera locations have seen speeding drop 60-70%, so the agency is expanding the cameras, which she says will make it the largest speed camera network in the world.

“That’s just crazy,” said Astoria resident Irfan Jakupovic. “Sometimes you speed up, go around the car and it’s just going to catch you one mile over, two miles over, you know.”

Speed cameras located along any of these streets will be reprogrammed and will only issue warnings for the first 60 days after new signage is posted.

“NYC already has low speed limits.  With Vision Zero, un-posted zones went from 30 to 25 a few years ago, and the maximum speed on NYC highways and expressways has been 50 mph (not 55 mph like the rest of the state) for quite some time. It, therefore, seems that this measure along with the installation of additional speed cameras are designed primarily to tax motorists (rather than actual safety concerns),” said Matthew Weiss, president of the Association of Motor Vehicle Trial Attorneys. “Keep in mind that the speed cameras were originally approved to protect students in school zones only, yet these cameras continued to click away while schools were closed.”

Critics say these measures are designed to tax motorists rather than deal with safety concerns. After the new speed limit signs go up, motorists caught speeding on camera will get a warning for the first 60 days.

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