New York City drivers, anguished by bike lanes and pedestrian plazas, have long insisted that the Bloomberg administration was slowing them down.

On Tuesday, in a rare moment of harmony, the city agreed.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced a broad expansion of the city’s so-called neighborhood slow-zone program, which will lower the speed limit to 20 miles per hour from 30 in designated areas across as many as 13 neighborhoods.

Mr. Bloomberg, speaking at a news conference in Corona, Queens, cited the city’s recent safety gains, which, he said, have driven annual traffic fatalities to their lowest rates since the age of horse-drawn carriages. He called the program the latest tool in “our assault on the No. 1 traffic killer – speeding.”

The city’s first and only neighborhood slow zone was instituted in some areas of the Claremont section of the Bronx in November. Janette Sadik-Khan, the city’s transportation commissioner, said speeding in the zone had fallen about 10 percent.

The new zones, which may also feature speed bumps and special signs, were tentatively selected based on crash history, community support and proximity to schools, senior centers and day care centers, among other factors, the city said. The neighborhoods include Corona, Boerum Hill in Brooklyn, Riverdale in the Bronx, Inwood in Manhattan and Rosebank on Staten Island.

Ms. Sadik-Khan noted that, according to traffic data, a pedestrian hit by a car going 40 m.p.h. had only a 30 percent chance to survive. Those struck by a car at 30 m.p.h., she said, survive 80 percent of the time. At 20 m.p.h., the figure climbs to about 95 percent.

Standing beside the intersection where the news conference was held – and often delayed as rattling No. 7 trains passed on the platform overhead – Victor Trejo, 47, said Corona’s drivers could stand to arrive at their destinations a few moments later. “They can have patience,” he said. “People come first.”

City officials expressed frustration on Tuesday that a bill to install cameras that would monitor drivers and issue violations to speeders automatically had stalled in Albany despite the administration’s support.

“It’s not their business,” Mr. Bloomberg said, adding, “The city should be in charge of its own destiny.”

Earlier in the day, Ms. Sadik-Khan said, a contractor performing work for the city on the Grand Central Parkway in Forest Hills, Queens, was struck and killed by a car. The driver was arrested under suspicion that he had been driving while intoxicated, a police spokesman said.

Source: The NY Times


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