The 25 Miles Per Hour Speed Limit is Killing Me
I am a Native New Yorker. That’s not a typo. It should to be capitalized. It’s not pride in an accident of birth but it’s staying here long after many friends and family members have pulled up stakes and moved to more hospitable climes. I survived 9/11, the mortgage meltdown, and a nanny mayor who would be king. I survived a house fire, Hurricane Sandy, and the Polar Vortex. But New York City’s 25 miles per hour speed limit has got me thinking about packing my bags.
Safety. Yeah, I get it. A lower speed limit saves lives. I’ve seen the ads:
“74% of pedestrians hit by vehicles are struck in crosswalks.”
What stronger argument can be made for jay walking, the birthright of every New Yorker?
Look, I’m not a speed demon. If I’d been cast to star in the movie Speed instead of Sandra bullock we’d all be dead. I’m not fast and furious. I’m slow and curious. But driving slower in a fast-paced city is stressful. Dropping down from 30mph to 25mph doesn’t sound like a lot – a mere five measly miles – but it is. What does going 25 miles-an-hour feel like? It feels like I’m driving with a flat tire; like I’m always slowing down to look at a building address or read a street sign; like I’m part of a never-ending funeral procession; like I’m driving slow enough to text, tweet, and read email.
It’s worth noting here that the minimum speed for cruise control is 30 miles an hour.
Now, I’m worried less about pedestrians and more about other drivers, specifically the ones behind me who either don’t know about the new city speed limit or don’t care. These days there seem to be quite a few folks ridding my bumper so tight they can’t read my license plate. Has anyone begun tallying the increase in rear-end accidents? And let’s not forget the apoplectic road ragers whose palms have taken root onto the horns of their steering wheels perhaps hoping to intimidate me into breaking the law for their convenience. I try to avoid getting tickets, but it seems like some drivers have opted to run a tab. (And before I forget: congratulations to New York City on it’s newest revenue generator.)
Driving in The Big Fruit has always been unpleasant. So, why do I do it? I live in The Boonies. The New York City version of The Boonies is anyplace that doesn’t have a 2-1-2 area code. New York City has five, count them, five boroughs: Brooklyn, The Bronx, Staten Island, Queens, and Narnia…. I mean Manhattan. When people outside New York ask if you live in The City, they are not counting the “outer” boroughs. (When people from New York ask if you live in The City they’re not counting Staten Island. Personally, I like Staten Island. If it weren’t for Staten Island, Queens would be the lowest borough on the cool totem pole.)
I feel like I have to drive because things are different outside of Manhattan. I’m not saying Southeast Queens is Thunderdome, but who wants to come home to the hood by way of multiple trains and then wait for a bus late at night if they don’t have to? My vagina, a worrier by nature, is not a fan of that option.
And so I drive even though I’m painfully aware that it takes people from New Jersey less time to drive into the Promised Land then it does for me when I leave my corner of the Shire. According to my GPS, on a good day, it should take me only 25 minutes to get into The Emerald City. It’s never a good day. Traffic, accidents, construction, and then once I arrive at my destination I have to play the parking game. Finding a free or metered parking space close to my destination is worthy of a journal entry:
“Dear Diary, I found one! I found My Precious!”
I used to ameliorate the aforementioned difficulties of my drive by listening to music. The lower speed limit however makes that challenging. How, you ask? Well, let’s just say that it’s hard to drive slowly to upbeat music. So toe-tapping, up-tempo tunes are now out of the question (unless I want to risk the ticket). My choices are silence, talk radio (yeah, that’s relaxing), news (that’s always cheerful), and lite-FM-kill-yourself love songs.
Silence it is then.
But now I’m afraid I’m going to fall asleep at the wheel and hit a pedestrian. Thankfully, though, at 25 miles an hour, they’ll live.