2/3 of City Streets are Near Schools, Subject to Lower Speed Limits

Tuesday, November 19, 2013 - 04:00 AM


A new WNYC Data News map of public and private schools shows that two thirds of streets are within a quarter of a mile of schools, with that number climbing to nearly nine of every 10 streets in Manhattan, 82 percent of streets in Brooklyn, and 74 percent in the Bronx.

As Transportation Nation reported last week, state law restricts how much localities can lower speed limits.  But there's a loophole: if streets are within a quarter mile of a school the city can act without state approval to lower limits to 20 mph. 

Because of the the density of New York City and its schools, that's two-thirds of all city streets if public and private schools are mapped. Even in the borough with the lowest school density, Staten Island, four of every 10 miles of streets would be affected. 

Even more streets might be affected than reflected above, however.  WNYC doesn't yet have reliable data on day care center locations -- those areas are also subject to restricted speed limits.

There are nearly 300 traffic fatalities a year.  Several recent high-profile deaths of children have galvanized officials towards action.  Mayor-Elect Bill de Blasio has signed on to a plan to reduce fatalities to zero, though he hasn't commented on how much he would want to limit speeds, or on which streets. 

One of the candidates for Police Commissioner, Bill Bratton, speaks at a forum on transportation policy on Tuesday.  The event is sponsored by NYU's Rudin Center and by Transportation Alternatives, vocal advocates of reduced speed limits and greater traffic enforcement.


Comments [10]

Chang from NYC

Service dogs are trained better and smarter when they guide the blind to cross streets than most of pedestrians in NYC. So amazing to see normal to to smart people so dumb and careless when they cross street. Maybe CitiWide campaign or video tutorial will help them learn how to cross, after all dogs can learn. For example stop at the curb and look before step into the road. How many peds are just walking off curb looking on smart(?)phone screen. Maybe NYC spoiled them. Never too late to learn life saving habits ABC. To me it's ironic to enforce speed limit around school. Something elemental as how to cross street should be taught in school before math or science.

Dec. 02 2013 03:20 AM
Glenn from BedSty

The city should enforce existing speed limit. And increase speed limit to 40 miles per hour on wide avenues and parkways throughout Brooklyn and Queens. The needs of drivers and commerce should accommodated and not demonized. 20 miles an hour limit will do nothing to decrease pedestrian fatalities. And what about, increased pollution from thousands of idling cars and truck, stuck because the traffic doesn't move fast enough? What about those who suffer from asthma? How about increased road rage, and traffic jam related stress? And all those ambulances stuck in traffic unable to reach those who need them?

This silly idea will damage and destroy more lives then it pretends to save

Nov. 20 2013 02:22 AM
Daniel from Crown Heights

Can speed enforcement cameras be placed in this same zone? Enforcing the existing 30 mph speed limits on the avenues of Brooklyn alone could save dozens of lives every year.

Nov. 19 2013 08:05 PM
Fraud from NYC

Andrea Bernstein

Award–winning journalist Andrea Bernstein is the Metro Editor for WNYC News. She has previously served as ***Political Director***, Director of Transportation Nation, and Senior Reporter.

Political Direcotors are NOT Journalists.

Nov. 19 2013 05:04 PM
speedy from Brooklyn

This is more nonsense. In the boroughs like Brooklyn there are no highway options to get around town and a 20MPH speed limit would, if enforced, all but styme traffic and livability throughout the entire city because of a few fanatics.

But here is the worst part. This is entirely a lazy and stupid approach to traffic problems. They DON'T ENFORRCE THE CURRENT SPEED LIMIT, so why would anyone think they can or will enforce a newer slower one that drivers will have to ignore just to get around town. Let them get off their asses and enforce the current speed limit, and then we can talk about lowering it.

Nov. 19 2013 05:01 PM
Z. Fechten

Sorry, you need to redo your analysis. School speed limits are allowed for distances up to 1/4 mile on streets next to the school or school entrance. It's more like a 1/8 mile radius, and not all streets in that radius will be eligible.

I certainly think 20 is plenty on local streets, but this isn't the loophole you think it is.

Nov. 19 2013 04:47 PM
Bronxite from NYC

20 MPH citywide unless otherwise posted. Let's do it.

We must also reconfigure our streets to reducing speeding and reckless driving+camera enforcement since the police both lack the resources nor care about most violators.

Nov. 19 2013 04:42 PM
Don Wiss from Park Slope

"day care center locations -- those areas are also subject to restricted speed limits."

What about near senior care facilities? If they could be included, that calms the start of Prospect Park West.

Nov. 19 2013 01:57 PM
Ari from Brooklyn

If daycare centers are included, I imagine this figure will climb to nearly all streets in much of the city.

Nov. 19 2013 09:54 AM
Eric McClure from Park Slope

You guys are missing the Poly Prep Lower School at 50 Prospect Park West, at the corner of 1st Street.

Nov. 19 2013 07:20 AM

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