Keep It Local – Speed Limit Controls

After passage in the Senate, local speed limit legislation has stalled in the NYS Assembly. Now, mayors, supervisors, and organizations from across the state are calling on Governor Cuomo to break the deadlock and allow local communities tools they need to improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists. We need your voice too!

The Senate has passed the local speed limit bill (S.1356/A. 6089), which would enable non-suburban towns with populations under 50,000 to establish maximum speed limits on all town highways that are functionally classified as “local roads.” The bill’s sponsor, Senator Betty Little, also characterized the legislation as mandate relief for local governments.

Since its passage in the Senate, however, local speed limit legislation has not been taken up by the Assembly. This inaction defies the momentum that Complete Streets and pedestrian an bicycling safety measures have gained in communities across New York State. Moreover, the Assembly’s lack of movement fails to address the dangerous conditions that threaten many New York pedestrians and cyclists. i\In 2012, NYS had the worst record in the nation for pedestrian and bicyclists fatalities: 27% of the fatalities on our roads were pedestrians or bicyclists.

Since crash severity increases substantially with veh800px-NewYorkAssemblyChamber (800x468)icle speed, slowing cars down is one of the best (and cheapest) ways to reduce injuries and fatalities. For motor vehicle-pedestrian crashes, every 10 mph reduction in vehicle speed increases the chances of survival by 40%. Existing state law prevents New York municipalities from adopting an area speed limit lower than 30 miles per hour. Some jurisdictions are able to lower that speed limit to 25 miles per hour on a street-by-street basis, while others (towns and counties) must first petition the New York State Department of Transportation. In order to achieve a community-wide speed limit below 30 miles per hour, municipalities must petition the State Senate and Assembly —a time-consuming proposition that is rarely successful.

Besides the local speed limit bill, the New York Legislature is also considering a bill to give New York City the authority to reduce speeds to 25 mph in a given area,and bills to give the Town of Riverhead and the City of Niagara Falls more local control of speed limits. At the moment, there are no bills that would grant municipalities the same level of control that New York City is seeking.

This piecemeal approach isn’t working. That’s why we asked the Governor for action!

PTNY and its partners in the New Yorkers for Active Transportation coalition collected the support of more than 50 mayors and supervisors, along with the Association of Towns and the New York Conference of Mayors, in asking Governor Cuomo to break the legislative deadlock on local speed control, and to end the piecemeal approach to providing communities with a useful safety tool. NY4AT sent a letter to the Governor asking for a unified, common sense piece of legislation that give’s municipal leaders the ability to lower local speed limits.

Now it’s up to the Assembly and Senate to break the deadlock and you can help! 

Please share the letter to the Governor with your Assembly member and Senator, and ask them to support the following:

  • S1356 Little/A6089 Russell Local control of town road speed limits
    This bill would allow town boards to establish maximum speed limits on town highways classified as local roads located outside of villages in nonsuburban towns having a population of 50,000 or less.
  • S6496 Dilan/A8478 O’Donnell Local Control on NYC speed limits
    This bill would allow New York City to reduce the city speed limit by 10 miles per hour.






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