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The speed limit throughout the City of White Plains will be reduced to 25 miles per hour later this year.
On Monday, the White Plains Common Council amended a traffic ordinance in the city to drop the speed limit from 30 miles per hour to 25 in the downtown area and residential streets, except in roadways that experience heavier traffic, such as Westchester Ave., White Plains Ave., Central Park Ave., Bloomingdale Rd. and North Broadway.
Thomas Soyk, Deputy Commissioner of the city’s Department of Parking, stated the council was able to amend the traffic ordinance that covers the speed of motor vehicles after the New York State Legislature passed a law that gives municipalities local control over speed limits.
“My biggest concern is pedestrian safety and the conflicts that are going to occur,” Soyk said. “With one speed for the downtown it’s easier for the police to enforce.”
Soyk noted 23 of the top accident intersections in White Plains are located in the downtown area. He also cited the 2,000 residential units that have been built downtown and the nearly 9,000 additional units that are either under construction or in the planning stages.
Mayor Thomas Roach said pedestrian fatalities are on the rise nationwide and vehicles traveling at a slower rate of speed can make a big difference.
“People driving slower are less likely to hit people,” Roach said. “No one is suggesting this is the panacea, but it definitely saves lives. People running red lights and speeding in the downtown kills people and we need to change that. It’s just a new approach when we think about cars. That’s what we’re trying to do.”
Councilman Richard Payne, who frequently rides a bicycle and scooter in the downtown, said speeding vehicles are just one danger pedestrians face.
“There are a lot of other hazards for pedestrians. We don’t have enough bike lanes or shared space for pedestrians,” he said.
Soyk are about 60 different locations throughout the city will require signage changes, which he noted would likely take “several months at best.”
Council President Victoria Presser said the city will have to undertake an aggressive educational campaign to properly inform residents of the speed limit reduction.
“Education and public information is a very crucial part to making pedestrians safe. It’s a culture change,” Presser said. “It’s going to be a mind shift that we’re going to have to get people through, but I’m glad we’re heading in that direction.”
Rick has more than 40 years’ experience covering local news in Westchester and Putnam counties, running the gamut from politics and crime to sports and human interest. He has been an editor at Examiner Media since 2012. Read more from Rick’s editor-author bio here. Read Rick’s work here: https://www.theexaminernews.com/author/pezzullo_rick-writer/