Loophole Offers Opportunity to Act on Calls for Improving NYC Pedestrian Safety

It won't take the approval of the state legislature to reduce speed limits on many of New York City's residential streets, just a City Council bill that takes advantage of a loophole in existing state law.
November 14, 2013, 5am PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Driven in part by the anguished voices of victims' families, New York City's elected officials are looking for ways to make the city's streets safer for pedestrians. One option being considered is to reduce speed limits on residential streets to 20 miles per hour. "One big stumbling block: such a move would require the approval of the state legislature," explains Kate Hinds.

"But there is a loophole," she adds. It turns out that existing state law allows cities to lower speed limits to 15-24 miles per hour within a quarter mile of a school. 

"Here's the upshot: 55 percent of all New York City streets are within a quarter mile of a school," notes Hinds in presenting the results of analysis conducted by WNYC/Transportation Nation. "In Manhattan, that number climbs to 75 percent. Seventy-one percent of Brooklyn's streets are in a school zone. In the Bronx, it's 64 percent; in Queens, 48 percent; and in Staten Island, 28 percent of all streets are in a school zone."

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Published on Wednesday, November 13, 2013 in WNYC: Transportation Nation
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