Cuomo signs bill greenlighting lower New York City speed limit

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo speaks Saturday, Aug. 9, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo speaks Saturday, Aug. 9, 2014, at Manhattan's Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, where he signed New York City speed limit legislation. Photo Credit: Bryan Smith

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Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Saturday signed a bill allowing New York City to drop its default speed limit to 25 mph from 30, a plan traffic officials said could reduce the number of pedestrian deaths.

Cuomo was joined at a signing ceremony at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in Manhattan by families whose loved ones have been killed in motor vehicle crashes.

"New Yorkers like to do things fast. Everything is time. Everything is pressure in New York. But this says, 'Slow down and save a life,' " Cuomo said.

The chance of a pedestrian's death is cut in half when the speed of the traveling vehicle is lowered to 25 mph from 30, city transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said.

The city had 176 pedestrian deaths last year, Cuomo said.

The new limit -- the top speed motorists can legally travel unless a posted sign indicates otherwise -- can go into effect in as soon as 90 days, once the city enacts a corresponding law as expected.

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Sarah Bravo, 13, of Queens said she hoped the bill would make drivers slow down. Her brother, Luis, 19, died last year after he was struck by a hit-and-run driver while walking on Broadway near 58th Street in Queens.

"We are actually helping other people not to suffer what we are suffering," she said.

The driver who struck Luis Bravo has never been caught.

The law is part of Mayor Bill de Blasio's "Vision Zero," a 63-step safety plan aimed at lowering pedestrian fatalities to zero. Much of the plan -- installing more speed bumps, redesigning roadways and tightening rules on taxi drivers -- doesn't need state approval.

But the state needed to authorize the speed limit reduction.

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The last time the city's default speed limit was changed was in 1964, when the state raised it to 30 from 25 -- against the city's wishes.

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