The Hempstead Town Board unanimously voted on Oct. 3 to reduce the speed limit on a portion of Lido Boulevard from 40 to 30 mph in an effort to create a safer environment for pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists in Lido Beach and the surrounding communities.
Long Beach School District officials called on town and Nassau County officials over the summer to reduce the limit, arguing that the road is dangerous for bicyclists and pedestrians, and especially for students who walk or ride bikes to school.
Town Councilwoman Erin King Sweeney was among those who pushed for the change, and said that the limit was reduced between the Loop Parkway and Blackheath Road in Lido Beach, a distance of just over 3 miles, and will be effective once the regulation is filed with the New York secretary of state. The 20-mph speed limit in the school zone in front of the Lido Complex, which houses Long Beach Middle School, Lido Elementary and the district administrative building, will remain the same.
“For far too long, this section of Lido Boulevard has been used as a speedway to and from other parts of the barrier island, and this speeding has endangered the lives of students, pedestrians, bikers and other motorists,” King Sweeney said in a statement. “These new limits will protect public safety and save lives.”
Former Schools Superintendent David Weiss pushed for the change as well. He sent a letter to Town Supervisor Anthony Santino in July, requesting the change on behalf of the Long Beach School District and the Board of Education.
“More than 700 Long Beach middle and high school students travel on foot and bicycle during rush hours,” Michael DeVito, the district’s chief operating officer, said in a statement. “I am extremely pleased that the town has taken the necessary steps to make this trip safer for the students of our community.”
The effort to improve safety on a road that officials and residents said is notorious for collisions came after a child was struck by a car in May at the intersection of Lido Boulevard and Blackheath Road, according to King Sweeney. She also cited an incident in 2012 in which a 14-year-old was injured while skateboarding to school.
“This new speed limit will create a safer and smoother flow of traffic along Lido Boulevard,” Santino said in a statement. “Neighbors can rest assured that motorists will be traveling at a safe speed for a roughly six-mile stretch from the Loop Parkway all the way through Long Beach.”
Because Lido Boulevard falls under Nassau County jurisdiction, town and school officials have discussed the issue with County Legislator Denise Ford, who lives in Long Beach. Ford advocated for the speed limit reduction for months.
Ford and King Sweeney said that the town and county are undertaking a traffic study that will focus on the flow of vehicles and pedestrians in the Lido Complex.
King Sweeney has also met with local community leaders in Lido Beach, including Lido Dunes Civic Association President Elizabeth Murdy. “It is our hope that with the passage of the 30 miles per hour speed limit along the length of Lido Boulevard, drivers will finally understand that this road is not an extension of the Loop Parkway in either direction,” Murdy said in a statement. “Lido Boulevard is a road that runs through neighborhoods and alongside schools. Children, as well as adults, cross this road regularly, and we need drivers to be aware of the speed limit.”
The Lido/Point Lookout Fire District and the Point Lookout Civic Association have also called for lowering the speed limit.
“It’s a great movement forward, but it’s one step in the right direction,” said Katie Artz, chairwoman of the Long Beach School District’s Central Council PTA Safety Committee. “There’s so many steps to take — enforcement is going to have to be a key component. They’re going to have to revisit the design of the road, and make it less like a highway and more like residential area.”