NYC May Cut Speed Limit to 25 to Cut Pedestrian Deaths

A bill that would allow New York City to lower its speed limit to 25 miles per hour may get a vote in the state legislature tomorrow.

The measure, backed by Mayor Bill de Blasio, would reduce the limit in most areas by 5 miles (8 kilometers) per hour. More than 250 people are killed and almost 4,000 seriously injured in city traffic crashes each year, according to a memo by the bill’s sponsor, Senator Jeffrey Klein, a Bronx Democrat.

“One particularly powerful tool is the ability to establish a 25 mph speed limit in the city, which can be the catalyst in curbing dangerous driver behavior,” the memo said.

De Blasio, 53, who took office in January as the first Democrat to lead the metropolis in two decades, wants to end pedestrian traffic deaths. Lowering the speed limit is a key component of his Vision Zero plan, which also includes public outreach and enhanced police enforcement. In April, the legislature approved his plan to add 120 speed cameras in school zones.

Lowering the limit to 25 mph would reduce the chance of fatalities in accidents involving pedestrians to 10 percent from 20 percent, the memo said.

Vision Zero is modeled on a program in Sweden, where a law adopted by the parliament in 1997 sets the goal for traffic fatalities at zero. Since its adoption, traffic engineers have reworked roadways to limit the danger of human error and traffic fatalities have been cut in half, the New York Times reported last month.

A companion measure in the Democratic-controlled Assembly is backed by Sheldon Silver of Manhattan, who leads the chamber. The legislature is scheduled to end its annual session tomorrow.

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