STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — “Blanket policy,” “one-size-fits-all,” and “square peg to a round hole” are some of the ways some Staten Island lawmakers have described the Mayor’s decision to lower the speed limit on Hylan Boulevard.
In May, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that speed limits would be lowered on major streets with the highest rate of reported car crashes in the city. Hylan Boulevard, the longest street on Staten Island spanning 14 miles from the North to South Shores, was among those announced.
Some lawmakers such as City Councilman Joseph Borelli expressed their outrage in response to the Mayor’s decision, which he described as “absurd and unnecessary.” Both Councilman Borelli and Minority Leader Councilman Steve Matteo took issue with the decision because, as local elected officials of the affected areas, they were not consulted in this decision which they believe is ignorant to the actual traffic and pedestrian safety-related issues that Staten Islanders endure.
Since then, Councilman Borelli, Borough President James Oddo, Congresswoman Nicole Malliotakis, Senator Andrew Lanza, Minority Leader Steven Matteo, Assemblyman Michael Reilly, Assemblyman Mike Cusick and Assemblyman Michael Tannousis wrote a letter to Mayor de Blasio urging him to reconsider the speed limit change.
Council Member Joe Borelli, Borough President James Oddo, Minority Leader Steven Matteo, Community Board 3 Chairman Frank Morano, and Tottenville Civic Association President Jim Pistilli gathered on the corner of Hylan Boulevard and Cornelia Avenue to host a press conference on Thursday, June 3, to discuss infrastructure that they believe is necessary and prioritizes pedestrian safety in a way that the Mayor’s proposed speed limit slashing doesn’t. Representatives from the offices of Senator Andrew Lanza and Assemblymember Michael Tannousis were also in attendance at the conference.
“To have a policy of 30 mph irrespective of any other factor, that is absolutely misguided,” said Borough President Oddo.
Borelli shared statistics from the NYPD about pedestrian-related car accidents. Since 2018, there have been three reported pedestrian fatalities and 112 pedestrians struck in the 122nd precinct portion of Hylan Blvd (between the Staten Island Expressway and Richmond Avenue), four of which were related to speeding or aggressive driving. During the same period, there have been zero pedestrian deaths and 15 pedestrians struck on the 123rd stretch of Hylan Blvd (between Richmond Ave and Conference House Park), none of which were related to speeding or aggressive driving.
“And I’ll say again, for the record, nobody wants cars going 60 miles an hour, 70 miles an hour. We don’t want speeding jerks like that to be on our streets, but we don’t think it’s unsafe for a car to go 42 miles an hour on this stretch of Hylan Boulevard,” said Borelli, referring to the stretch of Hylan Blvd in the 123rd precinct.
“This is the final stretch of so many commuters’ rides home and to be told that they have to go at an artificially slow rate is absurd. It’s frustrating and it’s the kind of thing that makes Staten Islanders go absolutely bonkers,” he continued.
Borelli noted that the stretch includes 4.2 miles of roadway that do not have sidewalks, 3.2 of which are city or state owned property. He pointed out that the press conference was being held at a bus stop where there is no sidewalk to bring awareness to the dangerous conditions many commuters deal with.
Councilman Matteo discussed the disconnect demonstrated with this policy which doesn’t address other major threats to pedestrian safety also noting that drivers not yielding to passengers when making left turns accounts for many of the situations that have resulted in vehicles striking pedestrians.
“They need to come to the table, talk with us who live this every single day; who live here, shop here, drive here. We know what can help, what measures are for safety and not just checking a box. And one size does not fit all,” said Matteo.
The city said that new speed limits would go into effect when the new speed limit signage is posted. The signs have yet to be updated.
The mayor’s office did not immediately respond to a request to comment.