Klein’s Bill Would Make It Harder to Lower Speed Limits on Dangerous Streets

Just after the City Council passed a home rule resolution asking Albany to pass legislation to reduce the city’s default speed limit to 25 mph, Senator Jeff Klein told the Daily News that he will be introducing a bill of his own. But there are big problems with Klein’s bill, chief among them a provision that would make it harder to lower the speed limit on dangerous streets than it is today.

The Klein proposal would lower the speed limit to 25 mph only on streets with two lanes or less. For larger streets, Klein would require the local community board to support reducing the speed limit below the default, currently set at 30 mph, before DOT could take action. This would be a step backward for safety, giving community boards veto power over speed limit decisions that DOT can currently make on its own. Under the Klein proposal, for instance, the process to implement the arterial slow zone program would become dramatically more complicated.

Advocates are open to working with Klein on legislation, but have yet to be won over. “We have concerns that community boards would have discretion to make the decisions, and we would like further clarification about what the senator has in mind,” said Amy Cohen of Families for Safe Streets. “Giving community boards decision-making power is disconcerting.”

It’s unclear if the bill would give DOT authority to designate a 20 mph limit on streets without making expensive engineering changes, a key feature of the Assembly bill sponsored by Speaker Sheldon Silver.

Klein’s office has not responded to Streetsblog’s requests for details about the bill.