NYC to lower speed limit to 20 mph on various local streets

traffic on a New York City street with lower speed limits
Traffic congestion in Manhattan in June 2023.
Marc A. Hermann / MTA

New York City is set to lower speed limits to 20 miles per hour on a smattering of local streets following the state’s passage of Sammy’s Law earlier this year, the Department of Transportation (DOT) announced Thursday.

DOT says it will start implementing the reduced speed limits in 250 locations across the city starting in September and continuing through the end of 2025.

It is also set to implement a “Regional Slow Zone” in each borough where speed limits are lowered to 20 mph throughout a set geographical area: the first such zone will be in Manhattan south of Canal Street, where it will be implemented by the end of this year or early next year.

“Speeding ruins lives, and reducing vehicle speeds by even a few miles per hour could be the difference between life or death in a traffic crash,” said DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez. “The new Regional Slow Zones and other speed limit reductions announced today will save lives and keep people safe.”

Most of the DOT’s proposed slower street locations are only a block or two long, but some are considerably longer. Those include about 1.5 miles of Audubon Avenue between 165th Street and Fort George Avenue in Washington Heights, and about a mile of Walton Avenue between 171st and 179th streets in the western Bronx.

There’s also about a mile of Prospect Park West from Grand Army Plaza to Bartel Pritchard Square in Park Slope, Brooklyn; that’s the stretch where 12-year-old Sammy Cohen Eckstein, the namesake of Sammy’s Law, was killed by a van driver as he went into the street to fetch a soccer ball.

His mother, Amy Cohen, spent the following decade fighting to pass Sammy’s Law, which was finally approved in this year’s state budget.

Sammy’s Law allows DOT to unilaterally lower speed limits on most individual streets in New York City, with the exception of some major arterial roads in the outer boroughs. To lower the default speed limit citywide, however, will require an act of the City Council.

DOT is also proposing lowering the speed limit to 10 mph on streets near schools, open streets, or shared streets like sections of Broadway in Manhattan.