Families for Safe Streets in Albany: New York City Needs a 20 mph Speed Limit

Group Convinces Several State Lawmakers to Co-Sponsor Bills to Lower NYC’s Default Limit

May 6, 2014
Brian Zumhagen 646-873-6008

A group of families whose loved ones have been killed or maimed in traffic crashes gathered at the State Capitol today, calling on Albany lawmakers to allow New York City to lower its speed limit as part of Vision Zero -- Mayor Bill de Blasio's policy to eliminate traffic fatalities and serious injuries by 2024.

Members of Families for Safe Streets are in Albany to call on the State Legislature to support bills sponsored by Assembly Member Daniel O'Donnell and State Senator Martin Malavé Dilan allowing New York City to lower its default speed limit from the current 30 mph.

"A 20 mph speed limit would provide an important margin of error, giving drivers time to react when the unexpected happens," said Amy Cohen, a founding member of the group. "Even when a crash is unavoidable, it's much less likely to result in death or serious injury if a vehicle is traveling at 20mph," Cohen said.

Senator Martin Malavé Dilan said, "Even after having three slow zones placed in my district, and an expanded speed camera package moving in the Senate, I still stand behind a 20 mph speed limit for New York City. The science doesn't lie, and the policy rests on its own merits. It stands to reason that if the most dangerous stretches of road can be made safer by a 5 mph speed reduction, reducing the limit a full 10 mph will get us closer to our goal of zero losses for the sake of all New Yorkers and in memory of all those we have lost to reckless driving," Dilan said.

"State lawmakers have already done the right thing with their recent approval of legislation allowing the city to deploy more speed cameras," said Mary Beth Kelly, also a founding member of Families for Safe Streets. "It's a great example of the kind of partnership that we need to reach Vision Zero. Now we need Albany's help with one more essential tool for saving lives on New York City's streets: we need the ability to lower our speed limit."

"There is no greater, nor simpler action Albany can take to save lives than by granting New York City the ability to control its own speed limits -- down to 20 mph, said City Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, Chair of the Committee on Transportation, who traveled to Albany to stand alongside Families for Safe Streets. "I stand with too many families, too often, who have lost family members in car crashes, and this will unfortunately continue unless proper action is taken by our state legislature. The time is now."

Joining Families for Safe Streets at today's press conference were State Senators Adriano Espaillat and Brad Hoylman, Assemblymembers Michael Benedetto and Linda Rosenthal, New York City Council Transportation Committee Chair Ydanis Rodriguez and New York City Council Member David Greenfield.

After meeting with Families for Safe Streets today, several lawmakers signed on as co-sponsors of the 20 mph legislation, including Assembly Members Carmen Arroyo, Michael Benedetto, Barbara Clark, Marcos Crespo, David McDonough, Brian Kavanagh, Michael Miller, Francisco Moya, Luis Sepulveda, Harvey Weisenberg and Keith Wright, along with Senators Michael Gianaris, Carl Marcellino, Bill Perkins and Jose Serrano.