The speed limit on Broadway above Columbus Circle was reduced to 25 miles per hour today, part of the city’s Vision Zero plan to reduce traffic injuries. The standard city speed limit is 30 mph, but the state has passed a bill sponsored by local Assemblyman Daniel O’Donnell that allows the city to lower it to 25. It could take effect citywide this fall.

Since 2008, 22 pedestrians have been killed on Broadway in the area now covered by the slow zone (up to 220th street). according to WCBS 880. The NYPD estimates that a 5 mph reduction in the speed limit could cut pedestrian deaths in half.

A bill in the state senate gives some stats on how reducing limits could reduce pedestrian fatalities:

“[I]f a pedestrian is hit at 40 mph there is about a 7 in 10 chance of being killed. At 35 mph, there is a 5 in 10 chance of being killed. At 30 mph, there is a 1 in 5 chance of being killed. If the speed limit were lowered to 25 mph, the chance of an accident resulting in death drops significantly to 1 in 10. Another benefit to having a speed limit of 25 mph is the marked improvement in vehicle stopping distance. At 25 mph, stopping distance is improved by 45 feet (23%), which will allow many crashes to be avoided altogether.”

Another slow zone was added in the Bronx on Southern Boulevard between Bruckner Boulevard and East Fordham Road.

Photo by R. Schmunk.

NEWS | 25 comments | permalink
    1. Gene says:

      Maybe our dear Mayor should reduce the stupidity of pedestrians standing in the middle of the road waiting (if at all) for the green light? So many people step all the way to the middle of the right lane on the red light as if the sidewalk is not wide enough.

      • Steven says:

        That’s because the sidewalk isn’t wide enough, there are no neckdowns, and the lights are not long enough to get across Broadway. That especially is true for older people who have trouble crossing the street.

        • Christina says:

          That’s because there are way too many people. Area is getting very overcrowded.

        • Scott says:

          No no no. The sidewalks on Broadway are plenty wide, I’d say a good 10 feet. The issue is impatience. It’s always impatience. Pedestrians simply stand in the wrong place and figure it’s the driver’s problem if he has to make a ridiculous wide turn b/c they’re standing in the road. And they wonder why they get hit!

    2. Dan says:

      They didn’t enforce the old one – why would they start now…

    3. naro says:

      The city is so overcrowded that it is a miracle that there not many more pedestrian deaths. NYC is fast choking by its own success.

      • AC says:

        You hit it on the nose! The community board and city continues to allow for new developments allowing for thousands of more people; however, services such as transit and sidewalk space for pedestrians remain the same. Trains are over-crowded and sidewalks remain the same! Back in the 90’s when the city cleaned up the Times Square area, it resulted in an influx of companies and additional workers. Combined with the number of tourists, it was decided to widened the sidewalks. In some areas, streets were completed shut down to cars!

        Here in the UWS, we need to either stop overcrowding or make efforts to narrow the intersections on the avenues. Lowering the speed limit by 5 mph is a ‘band aid’ solution to a problem that requires greater traffic analysis (or perhaps better education on street crossing).

      • Christina says:

        Yep!!! That’s what I had said in an above comment.

    4. Cato says:

      So now the drivers doing 40 down the side streets will be 15 mph over the speed limit, instead of just 10 mph over the speed limit. That’s a purely academic calculation in the utter absence of anyone to enforce the fact that there *is* a limit at all.

      And then, when the next pedestrian is mowed down, we can all stand around wringing our hands, saying that the driver was going *15 mph* over the posted speed limit. Horrors!

      Lot of good that will do for the newest victim’s family.

      What’s needed is enforcement. Of the speed limit, of the rights-of-way, of the laws requiring turn signals so pedestrians know what the driver is going to do next. You can pass all the new rules you want, but if no one is standing on the corner handing out tickets the drivers and mad bicyclists will just go about business as usual.

      And pedestrians will continue to get mowed down.

      • J says:

        Amen! Your comment says it all. Will it change before more of us (pedestrians) end up disabled or dead?

    5. NikFromNYC says:

      Only neurotics kvetch every week about the safest pedestrian big city in America. Note where the speed limit now inconveniences people on purpose: the progressive UWS. Welcome to traffic congestion and driver stress that will only make idiot pedestrians more complacent. For me as a entrepreneurial bachelor in the Columbia area, the whole UWS is but a speed bump as I head downtown via express train to escape the nasally voiced pseudo intellectuals who constantly preen in cafes about how the world sucks and they are superior to real professionals.

    6. Mike says:

      I’m all for trying to increase safety on our local roads, but the villain in this case isn’t the speed limit, it’s stupidity. If the city wants to make the streets safer they need to put more than just one tool in their arsenal:

      – A driver re-education campaign to reinforce the fact that making a left turn off Broadway requires them to stop at the center divider and wait till the east/west-bound light turns green for them.

      – Citing north/south bound drivers that insist upon stretching the limits of yellow and red lights at just about any intersection, flying through red lights at will.

      – Citing jaywalking pedestrians at major crossings who defiantly challenge road traffic. To name one egregious intersection in particular, 96th & Broadway, it regularly seems that pedestrians are color blind and playing a video game. They’ll walk far out into the side lanes, blatantly crossing during red lights while staring at oncoming cars as though they’re daring them to progress. I’ve watched cars with green lights come to a complete stop because of pedestrians navigating the streets as though they’re superheroes.

      Some other intersections are rife with other problems, like 65th/Broadway/Columbus, which has traffic coming from 5 directions and 2 bus stops. If ever a corner was screaming for staggered pedestrian signals, turning lane arrow lights and enforcement cameras, it’s this one.

      • Lisa says:

        Over the past few years, there seems to be a noticeable increase in people standing in street lanes, jaywalking/crossing on red light at busy intersections – and even refusing to budge and blocking buses trying to pull into bus stops! Seems especially prevalent among newbie New Yorkers or non New Yorkers….
        And it is not just smart-phone related.
        What’s with the unfortunate attitude? Is this the new entitled normal?

    7. ScooterStan says:

      Gee…how’s ’bout making it A FINE-ABLE OFFENCE to cross ANY intersection with your nose stuck in your iPhone, Android, Hemorhoid, whatever.

      If people knew they HAD to put aside their electronic toy and instead watch for traffic there might be fewer accidents.

      And once across the intersection they can go right back to Snapchat or GrumpyCat or whatever was absorbing their entire being. Of course, they might want to watch out for people like m’self on scooters.

      • Cato says:

        Stan, as usual I agree with you.

        But I would much rather see enforcement of the existing laws prohibiting cellphone yackity-yacking by *drivers*. Far too many of the drivers I see making those sloppy, hurried turns — you know, the kinds that kill even those pedestrians paying attention — are too busily engaged in chatting when they should be focusing on the humans in the road.

        Stan, I share your disdain for the mindless zombies who give up their connection with the real world, whether it’s crossing the street or walking down the sidewalk requiring the rest of us to dodge out of their blissful way. But far more harm is done by the hurrying distracteds piloting tons of metal on their way to something *far* more important than paying attention to the human lives unfortunately on their paths.

        Get cell phones out of cars and out of the hands of drivers. (No, I don’t think hands-free yackity-yacking is OK, either.) If you’re driving a car, pay attention. Full time, 100%. No ifs, ands or buts. Lives are at stake. Why is this still an issue?

      • SBC says:

        Andddddd the award for the most crotchety, obnoxious, whiny, “get off my lawn” comment of the day goes to ScooterStan! You get to pleasure of your own company, which, based on your comments, is no pleasure at all.

    8. Brian says:

      It would be nice if Amsterdam could be made into a slow zone as well. There’s nothing appealing about the status quo in which tractor trailers zip by day and night.

    9. Wendy says:

      Much ado about nothing. It’s not going to make much difference, and Broadway is one of those streets where you can go at most 10 blocks on a light, maybe 11 if you’re speeding. More traffic cops are needed, more speed bumps and ticket cameras to catch cars going through red lights. That would be the strongest deterrent to cars speeding and turning on red lights, going thru lights. and why don’t they create double turning lanes on West End Ave to go west on 96th Street? That’s always a logjam. there are so many intersections in the city like that. I think many drivers are frustrated and that’s why they do things like speed and go through red lights.

    10. Stuart says:

      Big police presence at Broadway and 96 on Monday. Tons of tv cameras too. Police directing automobile traffic, but do nothing about jaywalkers. Has anyone noticed that there are more accidents at that intersection since the subway station was remodeled?

    11. j says:

      Enforcement is key. I don’t see it. Someone commented about taxi drivers talking on the phone. Would be great if NYC created an app for passengers to easily report taxi drivers who are talking on the phone and speeding. Then the city could track complaints and then be accountable for enforcement. Reducing the speed limit is one way..perhaps a small start.. But let’s think out of the box here and get some creative solutions and then hold people accountable.

    12. rob says:

      In the two days the new 25 mph speed limit on Broadway between 72nd and 79th streets has taken effect I have yet to see one vehicle moving at that pace and, in fact, rarely doing anything remotely near that. Most vehicles during this time appear to be moving at, at the very least, 40 mph. Wonder how many tickets have been issued for speeding on Broadway over the last 36 hours.

    13. Eva Yachnes says:

      The problem with speed limits and other attempts at reducing pedestrian fatalities, due to either driver or pedestrian fault, is that there are no traffic cops to enforce the laws.

    14. Stuart says:

      I am both a driver and a pedestrian, so I see it from both sides. As a driver, I am constantly honking at pedestrians who are crossing the street when I have a green light and they have a red light ( have you seen any pedestrians waiting for the light to change in their favor when crossing 74th Street at Broadway – from TD Bank to Fairway?). As a pedestrian, I can’t wait to get to my destination. Remember the pedestrian who was ticketed for jaywalking and was then arrested for putting up a fight? The police should stop ticketing cars and begin ticketing jaywalkers, people who don’t keep to the right on the sidewalk, people who litter, spit out gum into the sidewalk, etc.

    15. Stuart says:

      And the city should outlaw double decker tourist buses. They are almost as bad as the cheapo buses that go from NYC to DC for a dollar…