September/October 1997, p.7

DOT Chief Lynn Kills Traffic Calming Bill

Read the latest news about this issue.

In August Department of Transportation Commissioner Christopher Lynn Scuttled support for changes in state law which would allow real traffic calming in New York City.  Word has it, Lynn feared the new law would be so popular it would produce a deluge of community requests for traffic calmed slow-speed zones that would be impossible to quickly address and would result in the embarrassment of the DOT and the Mayor.

The proposed law allows NYC to set its own minimum speed limits so as to accommodate traffic calming methods.  The bills was supported by the DOT's own pedestrian and traffic calming groups and had heavyweight sponsorship by State Senator Norman Levy and Assemblymember Deborah Glick.

Current State law requires cities and towns to have an absurdly high minimum speed limit of 30 mpg.  As a result, the City faces huge legal problems if it modifies streets so their "design" speed is less than 30.  Unfortunately, most requests for traffic calming the DOT receives are for streets where traffic already averages 30 or less.  In fact most neighborhoods want cars slowed to 15-20 miles an hour to reduce noise and improve safety.

Lynn prides himself on his "can-do" attitude and pragmatism.  He should either aggressively support this bill in the next legislative session, or save some tax money by firing the DOT traffic calming staff.  Without the passage of this law, most of their work is irrelevant.