De Blasio, City Council push for 25-mph speed limit

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio at New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio at City Hall on Thursday, May 8, 2014. Photo Credit: Getty Images

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The New York City Council Wednesday formally asked Albany to lower the city's default speed limit to 25 mph, but the plan soon hit a snag with news of a watered-down proposal to be introduced as early as Thursday in the state Senate.

The council and Mayor Bill de Blasio, as part of the "Vision Zero" traffic safety plan, want to reduce the current limit from 30 mph, and the council voted 46-4 Wednesday to seek a green light to do so.

But a slightly different proposal, announced hours later by state Sen. Jeff Klein (D-Bronx), would allow the default reduction only on streets with fewer than two lanes in each direction. The speed limit could drop to 25 mph on other roads with approval from a local community board.

Klein said his bill would ensure that slowing down traffic is needed and not "merely creating a traffic jam." Assemb. Daniel O'Donnell (D-Manhattan) said his bill, which has no such asterisks, has a "groundswell of support."

De Blasio spokesman Wiley Norvell said the mayor's and Klein's team would meet Thursday.

Albany controls much of how the state's municipalities are governed, including nearly all taxes and traffic laws. What the council passed Wednesday, called a home-rule message, is a needed first step before Albany can consider the proposal.

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But such messages are tied to a bill's wording, and because Klein will have introduced the bill after the message's passage, with different wording, the council would need to meet again before the Senate recesses late next week.

City Councilman Eric Ulrich (D-Queens), opposes changing the default limit, saying he doesn't buy the argument that the lower speed limit would reduce fatalities.

"I suspect that the city will use this to raise a tremendous amount of revenue, to give out a lot of tickets, and I'm not convinced that this will save all that many lives," he said.

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