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Posts from the "Daniel O’Donnell" Category

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Speed Limit Bills Shift to 25 MPH, Allow DOT to Designate 20 MPH Streets

With Mayor de Blasio, the City Council, and families of traffic violence victims lining up behind lowering the city’s default speed limit from 30 to 25 mph, Assembly Member Daniel O’Donnell and State Senator Martin Malave Dilan said this afternoon that they are amending their speed limit bills. Instead of establishing a 20 mph default speed limit and requiring the City Council to pass laws to designate exceptions, the bills will now drop the default to 25 mph and allow DOT to lower the speed limit to 20 mph on a case-by-case basis.

More of these signs could be going up if Albany officials join NYC electeds in supporting a 25 mph speed limit. Photo: NYC DOT

More of these signs could be going up if Albany officials join NYC electeds in supporting a 25 mph speed limit. Photo: NYC DOT

With the exception of school zones, state law currently requires streets with 20 mph limits to also include traffic calming measures, like the speed humps in DOT’s neighborhood slow zone program. Streets with a 25 mph limit, like those in the arterial slow zone program, simply require signage. On all other streets, the speed limit is the default 30 mph.

The amended bills effectively shift these numbers down by five mph: The default would become 25 mph and DOT would be able to designate 20 mph streets with only signage. Traffic calming measures would be required for speed limits below 20 mph.

Previously, the bills had proposed giving the power to change speed limits from the citywide default to the City Council. State law currently gives that power to DOT, and the amended bills will continue to give that discretion to the agency.

“Today’s amended version of A8478 represents a solid agreement among advocates, the Mayor’s office, and myself as to how to best adjust speed limit laws to improve traffic safety in New York City,” O’Donnell said in a press release. ”I am sending a Home Rule Request to the City Council, and I look to them to affirm their support for this important measure by promptly voting for it.”

This morning, the City Council transportation committee unanimously advanced a resolution in support of a 25 mph speed limit. This afternoon, the full City Council overwhelmingly passed that resolution on a voice vote. The City Council still needs to approve a formal home rule request regarding the O’Donnell-Dilan bills for them to advance in Albany.

Families for Safe Streets, a group of New Yorkers who have lost loved ones to traffic violence, had advocated for a 20 mph citywide speed limit. Today they backed the shift to 25 mph. “We strongly support the proposed legislation to reduce the default speed limit in NYC to 25 mph, while also allowing [DOT] the authority to reduce the speed limit on neighborhood streets to 20 mph quickly in order to save lives,” said Amy Cohen, a founding member of the group. “It is imperative that the Home Rule Message be approved by the City Council and the bill be passed by Albany this legislative session.”

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Council Reso Calls on Albany to Lower Citywide Speed Limit to 20 MPH

Steve Levin and Ydanis Rodriguez today introduced a resolution calling on Albany to lower the citywide speed limit to 20 miles per hour, as proposed in legislation sponsored by Assembly Member Dan O’Donnell and state Senator Martin Dilan.

“We have seen time and time again the pain inflicted on families as the result of crashes and we as New Yorkers refuse to stand by and let another person be killed in traffic,” said Levin via a press release. “By reducing speed limits in New York City we will save lives and achieve the goals of Vision Zero.”

“Speed kills, plain and simple,” Rodriguez said. “Whether here or in Albany, we as legislators have a responsibility to protect the lives of our constituents.”

The reso also calls on the state legislature “to give the City Council the authority to impose different speed limits in the city.” While it’s great that Levin and Rodriguez have taken up this cause, determining where and whether drivers should be exempted from the citywide speed limit should be left to DOT, and should not be subject to council politics. As demonstrated most recently by Vincent Ignizio, it’s a bad idea for council members to get the final say in how streets work.

O’Donnell’s bill had picked up about a dozen co-sponsors at this writing, while Dilan’s companion bill had three.

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Does Marty Golden Really Need Convincing That Lower Speeds Save Lives?

The Daily News didn’t need to send anyone to stand in traffic for man-on-the-street reaction quotes on Dan O’Donnell’s bill to lower the speed limit in NYC to 20 miles per hour.

Instead, all they had to do was call up Marty Golden.

With 12 children age 14 and under killed by NYC motorists in the last 12 months, Marty Golden believes lowering the speed limit is an "overreaction."

With 12 children age 14 and under killed by NYC motorists in the last 12 months, Marty Golden believes lowering the speed limit is an “overreaction.”

[Golden] called O’Donnell’s bill an “overreaction” and warned the lower speed limit would snarl traffic throughout the city.

“Traffic would go nowhere,” Golden said. “It would be a disaster and it is not going to eliminate the unlicensed driver who shouldn’t be driving or the driver who’s on drugs or alcohol.”

Golden said a better approach would be to stiffen penalties for aggressive drivers — to “get these morons off the road” — and to better mark off school zones.

Let us count the straw men. Would traffic come to a standstill if speed limits were lowered to 20 miles per hour? No. Where traffic is gridlocked, it already moves much slower than that. What this bill will do is encourage many people to drive at less lethal speeds on streets where they currently open up the throttle.

Slowing down speeding drivers has nothing to do with catching drunk or unlicensed drivers. It is ridiculous to say that since lowering the speed limit would not solve all traffic-related issues it isn’t worth doing.

Albany should certainly stiffen penalties for aggressive drivers. But again, that is a completely separate issue from slowing traffic in general. A pedestrian hit by a vehicle moving at 20 mph has a 95 percent chance of living through the collision. For a pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling at 30 mph, the current city speed limit, the chance of survival drops to 55 percent. Further, drivers traveling at 20 mph can more easily avoid collisions in the first place. Research cited by the 20′s Plenty For Us campaign shows that lower speed limits reduce collisions overall.

Safe Routes to School is a successful program, but slowing drivers citywide would make kids safer than adding paint and signage near schools, or whatever it is Golden is suggesting.

Golden has a mixed record on safe streets legislation. He sponsored bills to toughen penalties for drivers who leave crash scenes, and to require mirrors on large trucks that let drivers see kids who are in front of them. He was a holdout on allowing speed cameras in NYC, but eventually came around.

It’s unclear where his opposition to O’Donnell’s bill is coming from, but if Golden is interested in saving the lives of children, he will get behind the effort to lower the maximum legal speed in NYC.

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Assembly Member Dan O’Donnell Intros Bill to Set NYC Speed Limit at 20 MPH

Assembly Member Dan O’Donnell has introduced a bill to lower the speed limit in New York City to 20 miles per hour.

O’Donnell represents the Upper West Side, where two pedestrians have been killed by motorists in 2014. He attended the vigil held last night for Cooper Stock and Alexander Shear.

O’Donnell’s office released a statement this afternoon:

Last week, two tragedies in my district emphasized for me the overwhelming need to change traffic laws and prevent traffic fatalities in New York City. Already this year, in just over two weeks, there have been seven pedestrian deaths due to traffic accidents, including the death of a child. That horrific fact is why today I introduced A8478, which changes the New York City administrative code to set the city’s official speed limit at 20 miles per hour except where the City Council determines a different speed limit is appropriate. Studies have shown that pedestrians hit at speeds of 20 and lower have a dramatically higher chance of surviving an accident than those hit at speeds of 30 and above. I hope my bill will change the devastating rate of traffic deaths in the city, and contribute to Mayor de Blasio’s “Vision Zero” plan to prevent unsafe driving and end traffic fatalities.

As of now the bill doesn’t have cosponsors or a companion bill in the Senate, according to the Assembly web site.

O’Donnell’s bill is currently stronger than the similar bills introduced in the City Council last year, and as state legislation it would supersede equivalent city legislation. We’ll have more on the speed limit bill in future posts.

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Revenge of the Free Riders

From Transportation Alternatives' Spring 2008 magazine:

motoring_elite.jpg
The biggest hurdle congestion pricing faced was the simple fact that the people required to enact the legislation were the ones who stood to pay the most because of it.


On Monday, April 7, Sheldon Silver walked out of a closed door meeting of State Assembly Democrats and announced congestion pricing was dead. Never mind that New York City's mayor and City Council supported the plan along with the governor, the State Senate and an unprecedented coalition of business, labor, environmental and civic groups. Like so much else in Albany, the decision was made in secret, without a debate, a vote or even a record of the proceedings.

Until congestion pricing came around, I never paid all that much attention to Albany. Sure, I knew about the sex and graft scandals, the "three men in a room," and the Brennan Center reports showing New York's government has more in common with the old Soviet Politburo than America's 49 other state legislatures. I knew "dysfunctional" was the official adjective to describe Albany. But the dysfunction never seemed to impinge on my own life in any immediate, tangible way. Until congestion pricing.

I was really looking forward to seeing motorists pay to drive into Lower Manhattan. While I understood the importance of $354 million in federal aid, $491 million per year in revenue for transit and fewer kids growing up with asthma, this wasn't what pumped me up. What I liked most about congestion pricing was the fact that the people who make life in New York City most miserable -- the armada of horn-honking, exhaust-spewing, space-hogging, oil-guzzling, climate change-inducing motorheads that rolls through my neighborhood every day, to and from the free East River bridges, were finally going to have to pay for the privilege.

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One More Chance to Support Pricing: Call Your Reps Today!

We've said it before and we'll say it again: Congestion pricing is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to enact progressive transportation policy for New York City.

With the midnight deadline to receive $354 million in federal aid approaching in a matter of hours, now is the last chance to call your representatives in Albany to express your support, no matter where they may stand on the issue. And don't forget, when you call you can have these handy fact sheets at your disposal.

As we learned from reader reports last week, several representatives who seem to be leaning against pricing in the press are in fact uncommitted. Your phone calls today will make a difference.

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Pricing Round-Up: Dems Conference in Albany

Assembly Democrats met behind closed doors last night to gauge their collective sentiment on congestion pricing. According to the Post, only seven of the 36 legislators who spoke during the meeting expressed support, but the one who matters most, Shelly Silver, remains uncommitted: 

Silver, who has not voiced a public position on the issue, said the meetings will continue today, and he refused to declare the plan dead.

Meanwhile, Assembly Minority Leader Jim Tedisco has proposed that pricing be attached to the budget, the Daily Politics reports, which would make it tougher to vote down. But on this count, Silver's position is already well-known.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver reportedly is vehemently opposed to including congestion pricing in the budget, and has said he doesn't want to deal with this issue at all until after the budget is passed.

After the jump, a collection of quotes from lawmakers following last night's meeting.

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Richard Brodsky: Working for the Public or the Parking Industry?

brodsky.jpgWestchester Democrat Richard Brodsky has emerged as the State Assembly's leading critic of Mayor Bloomberg's congestion pricing plan. Later today Brodsky will release a report on the steps of City Hall characterizing the Mayor's congestion pricing plan as a regressive tax that puts most of the burden on poor and middle-income drivers (and ignoring the fact that only 4.6% of New York City residents drive to work in Manhattan's Central Business District and most poor and middle-income New Yorkers use transit).

In his radio address this weekend, Mayor Bloomberg urged state lawmakers to "put aside their competing interests and come together" on the issue of congestion pricing. "To leave this half a billion dollars just sitting on the table would be absolutely ridiculous." In response, Brodsky told the New York Times:

We don't have any competing interests. We're interested only in the public interest, and the first thing the public interest requires is someone to actually look at the mayor's plan, fairly and thoroughly.

Yet, over the last five years Assembly Member Brodsky has accepted at least $16,700 in campaign contributions from parking garage interests, according to the New York State Board of Elections. Brodsky's parking industry contributions far exceed those of any other state legislator (though Queens City Council Member David Weprin leads the pack with his $20,500 $40,650 haul). Specifically, Brodsky's contributions have come from the Metropolitan Parking Association and the Mallah family, the owner of several parking companies and sometimes referred to as New York City's "parking royalty."

The Mallah family has interests in several parking corporations including Merit Parking, Mallah Parking Corporation, Advance Parking, and Icon Parking. Shelly Mallah is also associated with New York City's Metropolitan Parking Association and has made campaign contributions to its political action committee.

Vincent Petraro, the executive director of the Metropolitan Parking Association, a trade group representing about 800 lots and garages in New York City, has served as an intermediary for political campaign contributions for Sheldon Mallah, according to the NYC Campaign Finance Board. Petraro is also a board member of Queens Chamber of Commerce and chairman of its Legislative Advocacy Committee.

Parking industry contributions to Richard Brodsky:

$1,000 12/01/05 Sheldon Mallah
$1,000 12/01/05 Sandra Mallah
$500 3/28/05 Metro Parking Association
$400 3/25/04 Sandra Mallah
$500 5/20/04 Sheldon Mallah
$1,000 5/20/04 Sandra Mallah
$2,000 4/29/04 Sandra Mallah
$800 3/25/04 Sheldon Mallah
$500 12/30/03 Sheldon Mallah
$1,000 12/30/03 Sandra Mallah
$1,000 6/26/03 Sheldon Mallah
$2,000 6/23/03 Sandra Mallah
$1,000 3/03/03 Sandra Mallah
$1,000 11/22/02 Sandra Mallah
$1,000 8/26/02 Sandra Mallah
$1,000 8/26/02 Sandra Mallah
$1,000 5/06/02 Sandra Mallah

TOTAL: $16,700

How do Brodsky's parking industry contributions compare? No other state legislator even comes close to the levels of contributions received by Brodsky from the Mallahs and the Metropolitan Parking Association since 2002.

Marty Golden $1,500
Denny Farrell$1,000
Sheldon Silver $1,000
Joe Lentol$750
John Sabini $500
Danny O’Donnell $500
Rory Lancman $500
Michael Cusick $250
Mark Weprin $250

Photo: Tim Roske/Associated Press via the New York Times
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O’Donnell Supports PlaNYC, but Congestion Pricing?

Below is State Assembly Member Daniel O'Donnell's response to a letter from Streetsblog contributor Glenn McAnanama urging O'Donnell to support congestion pricing. O'Donnell claims that no specific legislation has been introduced regarding PlaNYC so he cannot take a position.

O'Donnell represents the 69th Assembly District which includes Manhattan Valley, Morningside Heights, and the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

Thank you for reaching out to my office. I find it valuable to gain awareness of the legislative issues my constituents are concerned with. I genuinely appreciate the effort you took to address your views on PlaNYC 2030.

I commend Mayor Michael Bloomberg's comprehensive approach to making New York City more environmentally sustainable. New York City has always been a leader in sustainable urban policy for the rest of the world's great cities and the proposed PlaNYC 2030 is a major example of that leadership. As of the moment, no detailed legislation has been presented to members of the New York State Legislature regarding the many programs under PlaNYC 2030. Until I can consider every detail of any proposed legislation and how it would affect the lives and families of my constituents, I cannot take a definite position.

Be assured of my commitment and longstanding support to improve environmental sustainability and public transportation in New York City. I am currently a sponsor of the "Bigger Better Bottle Bill", which expands the Returnable Container Act to non-carbonated beverages. I am also an advocate for developing a freight rail-tunnel in our city, which would go a long way in alleviating the traffic congestion that negatively affects our quality of life.

As the status of PlaNYC 2030 evolves in the State Assembly, please continue to contact my office with your concerns. I fully welcome any further comments you may have.

Very truly yours,
Daniel O'Donnell
Assembly Member