Okay, please take a seat because you’re not going to believe this when you read it. And it’s possible you’ll fall over when you do.
As of today, the speed limit on the streets of New York has been reduced to 25 miles an hour from 30.
Take some time to finish laughing.
All done? Good.
Now, when was the last time you managed to go 25, let alone 30?
Right: It was when you took your spouse, nearly 10-months pregnant, to the maternity ward at 3 on a Monday morning in 1968. Or when you drove your thoroughly soused husband home to Bayside at about the same time the same number of years ago.
The de Blasio administration wants to reduce pedestrian accidents. Failing to convince people to not cross in front of oncoming buses, they’ve done the next best thing.
On those rare moments that you can do 30, you’re going to do it. And that includes times when there is a police cruiser directly behind you.
Granted, there are streets of death in every borough. But did it ever occur to the Lords of Traffic “Control” to reduce the speed limit on those roads, while leaving the rest alone?
Queens Boulevard. Flatbush Avenue. Pelham Parkway. Places where you actually can take your foot off the brake for 10 or 15 seconds at a time. That’s where they should be reducing speed.
Even Park Avenue in Midtown or any other really really wide street would make sense, though not between 6am and midnight on weekdays.
You could raise the speed limit to 80 on any side street in Manhattan and it would make no difference.
And that includes even the big ones… 14th, 34th, 42nd, 57th, 72nd, all the way up to 125th.
How about some of the curvaceous streets or the ones that make odd bends or go off into unexpected directions?
Trying to save the lives of unwitting bus magnet pedestrians makes perfect sense, even if for no other reason that accidents slow things at street level. But lowering the speed limit on practically any road in the five boroughs doesn’t.
Note, this does not affect the highways.
But it’s almost as dumb as minimum speed limits on the Long Island Expressway. “Minimum Speed 40 MPH,” the signs say. They could write them in tiny type because chances are you’ll be stalled next to one long enough to read it thoroughly. Maybe even twice.
--There are 13-thousand signaled intersections in New York City. Many of them have timed traffic lights which theoretically -- and even sometimes even actually -- allow you to travel the avenues without stopping. The new speed limit will mean they’ll have to reprogram all the lights and you can bet that’s not going to be done in any kind of a hurry.
--The timed lights work for you at the speed limit. They work at double the speed limit. But do they work at half?
I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2014