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Group Urges State Lawmakers to Lower City Speed Limit

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Transit advocates and families of traffic accident victims gathered on Tuesday to call on state lawmakers to lower the city's speed limit, saying the move will lead to a significant reduction in traffic-related deaths. NY1's Kristen Shaughnessy filed the following report.

Family members on Tuesday held photos and spoke of loved ones killed or seriously injured on city streets.

"Today, I am here demanding 25 mph streets limit for Renee Thompson, my 16-year-old sister who was killed on 60th and Third in Manhattan on July 31, 2013," said one family member. "In two weeks, she would be graduating from high school."

They are part of the group Families for Safe Streets, which is pushing to lower the city speed limit from 30 mph to 25 mph.

"If a pedestrian is struck by a motorist moving at 25 mph, that pedestrian is twice as likely to survive than if the motorist were going 30," said Paul Steely White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives.

Aaron Charlop-Powers heads up the group. His mother was killed while riding her bike in the Bronx.

"We need a lifesaver in the New York Senate," Charlop-Powers said.

It's unclear, though, if that lifesaver will come. While Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver says he has the votes to get the bill through the Assembly, the bill doesn't have a sponsor in the state Senate, and time is running out. The legislative session ends on June 19.

"We call, then, to you, the leadership, to understand that this is what New York City wants," said City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez of Manhattan. "It took a lot for these families to come together and build a one-voice coalition."

Not everyone is in favor of the proposal. Some drivers said a lower speed limit would make it even harder to get around the city.

"A lot more tickets, and it'll slow down traffic," said one driver.

"Twenty-five speed limit mile is very slow, and then it's going to be a lot of traffic everywhere."

There are those who believe lowering the speed limit doesn't go far enough, but for now, that's where the group will focus its efforts. It has gathered thousands of petitions urging state lawmakers to get behind this bill. They will be delivered to state Senate leaders. The group believes politics and deal-making has taken precedence over safety on city streets.

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