Speed limit reduction to begin on November 7
by Andrew Shilling
Oct 21, 2014 | 4876 views | 0 0 comments | 140 140 recommendations | email to a friend | print
DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg assured that, “Our leaders and communities are united in putting the brakes on the culture of excessive speeding and reckless driving in the city.”
DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg assured that, “Our leaders and communities are united in putting the brakes on the culture of excessive speeding and reckless driving in the city.”
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Transportation Alternatives Executive Director Paul Steely White joins the “25 Days to 25 mph” kickoff.
Transportation Alternatives Executive Director Paul Steely White joins the “25 Days to 25 mph” kickoff.
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Amy Cohen, the founding member of Families for Safe Streets, said she hopes the new speed limit will help prevent future tragedy on city streets.
Amy Cohen, the founding member of Families for Safe Streets, said she hopes the new speed limit will help prevent future tragedy on city streets.
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On November 7, city streets without posted speed limits will drop to 25 miles per hour in a sweeping reform to take on pedestrian fatalities in New York City.

Amy Cohen, founding member of Families for Safe Streets, lost her 12-year-old son Sammy Cohen Eckstein to a reckless driver last Oct. 8, something she says could have been prevented if there was a stricter speed limit.

Cohen’s eighth-grade son was on his way from school to soccer practice when he was struck by a speeding van on Prospect Park West while chasing after a soccer ball into the two-way traffic.

“The driver said he saw the ball, but he was going too fast to stop,” Cohen said. “At a slower speed limit, the most important thing is that people can stop. There’s a 20-foot difference in the length they have to stop before they hit someone. That would have been enough.”

Since then Cohen has joined other families who faced similar tragedy to advocate for stricter traffic enforcement and for a slower speed limit.

“We really see our goal as raising awareness to pressure for changes in laws, but also to work on education,” she said. “There is really a culture in New York that people are in a hurry, but my message is that this could be your child, this could be your husband or your parents, and it’s really important to reflect on that and slow down.”

Since the Vision Zero initiative took aim at eliminating pedestrian fatalities in the city, the Department of Transportation and the NYPD have worked together to find a solution and pushed the 25-mph campaign as one facet.

In addition to outreach with local community boards, civic groups and partnerships with local elected officials, the DOT and NYPD also distributed 16,000 flyers in Staten Island and the Bronx to bring awareness to the new speed limit.

The DOT also announced that they will soon place reminders on mass transit systems throughout the city, municipal parking lots, on its truck fleet and muni-meter receipts.

NYPD Chief of Transportation Thomas Chan said the new speed limit will be a big change, and he expects drivers will take some time getting used to it.

“As the ‘safest big city’ in the nation, it is time to extend that safety to our city’s roadways,” Chan said. “Speed is a leading factor in traffic fatalities across our city. Adhering to the speed limit will decrease both the probability and severity of injuries and damages.”

According to police statistics, enforcement has increased since 2013, and failure to yield summonses have increased nearly 14 percent from 10,703 in 2013 to 26,482 in 2014. Speeding summonses have also seen a 26-percent increase in the last year, according to police.

Crown Heights resident Samuel Johnson has driven a truck for Alpha Laundry, based in Coney Island, throughout the five boroughs of the city and beyond for the last 15 years.

Despite high demands on timeliness for his deliveries and regulation from his dispatcher, he said the speed limit change might be just what this city needs.

“I think if rather than going fast or slow, when you drive a truck it’s all about the perception of breaking distance,” he explained. “A lot of people don’t stop when they’re supposed to stop, like when they’re trying to beat a light or something.”

Samuel’s wife Judy Johnson is a nanny in the neighborhood and said she too agrees that drivers need a wake-up call.

“I think 25 miles per hour is perfect, especially when you have kids crossing the street, and these drivers aren’t yielding to pedestrians,” she said. “They’re rude. They’re really lawless.”

Judy added that she and her fellow nannies in the neighborhood often encounter reckless drivers during their afternoon walks.

“Even if I have the signal, there are drivers that see you crossing with a stroller, and they would still try to beat you with the light,” she said. “They don’t really care.”

DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg hosted the “25 Days to 25 mph” campaign kickoff in Brooklyn last week in an effort to get people thinking about the new regulation.

“I think culture change is something that happens gradually,” Trottenberg said. “It takes leaders and it takes partners, and we certainly have that with Vision Zero.”

She added that through a coordinated effort from the NYPD and DOT, she is confident the rollout will be a success.

“My message here is please New Yorkers slow down,” she said. “If you’re driving at a slow speed, you’ll be ready to react if a child jumps out into a street.”

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