Council urges Hochul to sign speed limit legislation – The Daily Gazette


SCHENECTADY — City Council on Tuesday agreed to pass a resolution calling on Governor Kathy Hochul to sign legislation allowing municipalities to lower the minimum speed limit to 25 mph as she works to develop a strategy to reduce reckless driving.

The council’s public safety committee moved the resolution forward following a discussion of the possibility of lowering the citywide speed limit after state lawmakers approved legislation earlier this year allowing local governments to reduce the minimum speed limit from 30 to 25 mph.

Hochul has yet to sign the legislation, which city lawmakers have lobbied for in the past in hopes of curbing speeding and dangerous driving — a persistent problem that neighborhood groups have urged lawmakers to solve many times in the past.

Councilwoman Carmel Patrick, who raised the topic for discussion, wanted the committee to advance a resolution approving the speed reduction pending approval of the legislation by the Governor so the change could be implemented once the law is passed. signed, but withdrew proposal due to lack of support.

Other members, including Carl Williams and Marion Porterfield, wanted to wait for the resolution to pass until the legislation was approved.

“I just don’t want it to be something that lingers there and no action is taken by this council,” Patrick said. “It’s something that our residents have made clear to us that they want something like this to happen.”

But the change would likely take months to complete anyway.

John Coluccio, the city’s superintendent of signals, estimated that the signs would take between three and four months to be delivered and would likely cost the city about $10,000 to purchase. He said about 200 panels should be ordered.

For years, neighborhood groups have urged lawmakers to tackle speeding across the city by enacting a lower speed limit and a comprehensive street pattern that includes things like narrower lanes, raised pedestrian crossings and protected cycle paths, which have been proven to improve the safety of pedestrians and those using non-powered forms for transport.

The reduction in the speed limit is not unprecedented and has been shown to improve pedestrian safety.

New York City reduced its speed limit from 30 to 25 mph in 2014 and the number of pedestrian fatalities dropped 23% over the next three years.

Additionally, a 2018 study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that the number of vehicles exceeding speeds of 35 mph dropped nearly 30% when the city of Boston reduced its speed limit from 30 to 25mph.

Deputy Police Chief Brian Whipple said he thought lowering the speed limit across the city would help reduce speeds, but said an education program also needed to be included in order to create awareness of change.

The council also discussed the potential addition of speed bumps to city streets as part of a wider plan to reduce reckless driving, which also includes reducing the speed limit, the installation of additional flashing stop signs and development of ways to strengthen speeding education and enforcement.

Last year, the city set aside $20,000 to purchase and install a series of speed bumps, but plans have stalled as officials scramble to work out details.

City Engineer Christopher Wallin said he was working with law enforcement officials and Coluccio to develop a list of criteria for installing speed bumps along with potential locations.

But he noted that the devices come with stringent guidelines that must be followed, and other municipalities, such as Rochester, have imposed their own additional criteria for installing the bumps, which he says are being reviewed.

Rochester’s plan criteria include an engineering survey and 75% of a street’s residents signing up for the speed bumps to be installed. The devices also cannot be installed in parallel streets and along main thoroughfares.

“Buying them is easy,” Wallin said.

Wallin said he would also like to review how the reduced speed limit might impact CDTA service before any changes are made.

“I would love to watch it more,” he said.

Wallin is expected to begin developing a speed bump installation plan, which the board will consider at its next committee meeting in two weeks.

Contact journalist Chad Arnold at: 518-410-5117 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @ChadGArnold.

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