The speed limit change does not come as a surprise. Mayor Bill de Blasio and numerous supporters across the city have been pushing for a lowered speed limit since his election through the Vision Zero Initiative.
After months of campaigning, the state legislature approved a bill in June that would allow the city to reduce its speed limit from 30 mph to 25 mph.
The bill was signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo — which, at the time, de Blasio said he was confident would happen — and finally sent to the City Council for enabling legislation.
On Tuesday, Oct. 7, the City Council approved that legislation with a vote of 45-4. De Blasio applauded advocates from the city and the state in their work to make the change possible.
“There is no question this will save lives,” de Blasio said in a statement released after the vote. “Speeding on our streets is taking the lives of our children and neighbors. Lowering the citywide speed limit is a powerful new tool we can combine with education, enforcement and better-designed streets.
“As both mayor and as a parent, I am deeply grateful to the City Council for its advocacy in Albany to secure this change, and today’s action to cement it into law,” he added.
Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, who chairs the Transportation Committee, has been a staunch supporter of the legislation and was pleased to announced the new speed limit.
“By reducing the speed limit to 25 mph, we plant the seed of safety in the minds of New Yorkers and begin the journey towards a necessary culture change,” Rodriguez said.
The new speed limit will apply to streets where no speed limit sign is posted. Higher speeds on highways and lower speed in school zones or slow zones will remain the same.
Speed was the single greatest contributing factor in traffic deaths in 2012 and continues to play a significant role in traffic incidents involving motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians.
Families for Safe Streets, a group of advocates who have loved ones who have either been killed or injured in traffic accidents, tweeted out after the vote that the lowered speed limit is “a historic step towards Vision Zero in NYC.”
Not all celebrated the passed legislation, however. Councilman Jumaane Williams of Brooklyn was not present for the vote, but released a statement afterward stating that had he been present, he would have voted against the legislation.
Though he said he “fully supports the need to reform traffic laws in New York City,” Williams explained that he feels the new legislation is “too broad.”
“Instead of an overall speed limit reduction, the better approach is to study the city’s various neighborhoods and major arteries, and assess with specificity where a lower speed limit makes the most practical sense,” he said.
Speed limit signs will start being posted on Nov. 7, and enforcement of the new speed limit will begin immediately after those signs are posted.