Cuomo’s Signature Expected After Legislature Approves NYC Speed Cameras

After years of persistence, advocates for safer streets are closer than ever to a milestone achievement: Following the measure’s approval in the Assembly, the State Senate passed a bill early Saturday to allow New York City to use cameras to catch motorists who speed near schools. A spokesperson for Andrew Cuomo has said the governor will sign the bill into law.

Jeff Klein, of the Bronx, took up the mantle of speed cameras in the State Senate.

Make no mistake — the speed camera program as approved by the legislature leaves much to be desired. The city will be allowed to deploy just 20 cameras throughout NYC — there are 1,700 public schools alone in the five boroughs — and the cameras will be operable only from one hour before the school day begins to one hour after it ends. A driver can go up to 10 mph over the speed limit without getting a ticket, and camera-enforced penalties will be limited to $50, regardless of how fast an offending motorist drives, with no license points attached. The legislature has attached a five-year sunset clause to the program.

But the bottom line is speed cameras reduce traffic injuries and deaths, and the streets around the handful of schools selected to get them will be safer. “What we are doing is getting our foot in the door,” said Juan Martinez, Transportation Alternatives general counsel, earlier this month. “The key is to get the authorization so we can start eliminating these needless deaths.” Since they were first introduced in 1988, the number of NYC red light cameras has gradually increased, from 15 to 150.

“This is a great victory for safer streets and for the children of New York City,” said Paul Steely White, TA executive director, in a written statement. “Special thanks are due to Senator Jeff Klein and Assembly Member Deborah Glick, who worked to pass this bill in their respective houses. With the enforcement tools allowed by this legislation, the City of New York will be able to catch drivers violating the lawful speed limit near our schools and prevent them from putting our children’s lives at risk.”

Also thanking Glick and Klein, Veronica Vanterpool, executive director of Tri-State Transportation Campaign, wrote: “Speed cameras will bolster existing law enforcement practices and complement traffic calming measures to ensure our roadways are safer for everyone who uses them in New York City. They are an additional measure in a toolkit towards safer streets, not a replacement for existing law enforcement. Speeding cars take so many lives, cause so many injuries, and make too many of our streets perilous for all users of the road: pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists.”

Thanks are due to TA and Tri-State, as well as Mayor Bloomberg, the City Council, Manhattan DA Cy Vance, and other electeds who voiced their support for speed cameras.

Speed cameras passed the Assembly with just 20 votes against. We’ll post the Senate count when it becomes available.

  • Bolwerk

    Why can’t they just let the city decide for itself how to enforce its traffic and traffic laws? New York State is really controlled by petty busybodies.

  • Anonymous

    You really want the NYPD to have final exclusive say on what laws are enforced? Plus I think this project will use state funds.

  • Anonymous

    Oh boy! Oh boy! The do nothing toothless law with a large amount of slack for speeding drivers is almost here! I can’t wait to feel safer!

  • JK

    Well done Juan, Nadine, T.A. and Tri-State — and of course a big thank you to Mayor Bloomberg. However imperfect this law is, these speed cams will mean a bunch of little kids in Queens or Brooklyn, or another borough, will have the chance to grow-up and live a full life. Planet Albany is a place good ideas go to die. Winning anything useful there is an accomplishment.

  • Daphna

    This speed camera bill is weak but it is a crucial start. Hopefully it will later be expanded to hundreds and then thousands of cameras instead of just a few dozen. Hopefully the speed that triggers a ticket will be reduced to 35mph instead of 40mph. Hopefully they will be allowed to be moveable instead of fixed so drivers will not know which intersections have them. Hopefully the criteria for where speed cameras are allowed to be located will be expanded to other dangerous pedestrian-heavy streets that are not necessarily near schools. However, the legislation as it is is at least a start.

    NYC started with 15 blocks of a protected bike lane on 9th Avenue. Now there are many more. Tools for safer streets have to start with whatever little foothold they can get.

  • Bolwerk

    That has absolutely nothing to do with what I said, but the NYPD has pretty much run amok for years, so I hardly see what difference that would make either way. They already have a policy of ignoring anti-social behavior from drivers.

    Generally speaking, state funds = NYC’s money. That doesn’t mean they should be telling us how to spend it.

  • steely

    special thanks to those who instigated this and kept it going for so long.

    http://www.nydailynews.com/archives/news/traffic-camera-bill-stalls-article-1.920417

  • Anonymous

    It actually does. You presented the question “Why can’t they just let the city decide for itself how to enforce its traffic and traffic laws?” I provided an answer and an explanation.

  • Anonymous

    Yes we gave it a good old start. Drivers can still speed with impunity! Go us!

    I just wonder if we would have been better off waiting and really fighting for a bigger and more comprehensive bill or choosing to spend money somewhere else.

  • Bolwerk

    What is this, Dunning-Kruger day? Why would letting the city decide, presumably in the elected city council, translate into the NYPD having “final exclusive say” (whatever that is) to begin with?

    Go ahead, downrate some more. It doesn’t make your comment any less of a non-sequitur.

  • Anonymous

    My point since your logic skills don’t seem to be working today is this. 1. The state legislature provides oversight in the form of passing laws. 2. The city council has gone on to allow the NYPD to enforce what ever laws it wishes or doesn’t wish to. 3. Since the city council is unable or unwilling to actually regulate the BYPD 4. We pay taxes to the state of NY and they get to choose how that tax money is spent.

  • Bolwerk

    1. So someone watches the watchers? With regard to reform, how is that working out?
    2. And…the state hasn’t? I’d maybe buy you sorta had an argument here if the state at least did something about the NYPD’s flippant disregard for human rights, not to mention the constitution, but if anything they enable that too, and then tie the city’s hands in those odd cases where it shows interest in reforming itself.
    3. Yes, the city council is stupid. I agree. They still have a bit more awareness of issues relevant to New York City than the slope-brows cloistered in Albany, who are more often than not completely hostile to us and our interests, and then often grifters on top of that.
    4. Hurr, so what? This sounds more like a case for toppling the state than lauding its poor decision-making.

  • Bolwerk

    1. So someone watches the watchers? With regard to reform, how is that working out?
    2. And…the state hasn’t? I’d maybe buy you sorta had an argument here if the state at least did something about the NYPD’s flippant disregard for human rights, not to mention the constitution, but if anything they enable that too, and then tie the city’s hands in those odd cases where it shows interest in reforming itself.
    3. Yes, the city council is stupid. I agree. They still have a bit more awareness of issues relevant to New York City than the slope-brows cloistered in Albany, who are more often than not completely hostile to us and our interests, and then often grifters on top of that.
    4. Hurr, so what? This sounds more like a case for toppling the state than lauding its poor decision-making.

  • Bolwerk

    1. So someone watches the watchers? With regard to reform, how is that working out?
    2. And…the state hasn’t? I’d maybe buy you sorta had an argument here if the state at least did something about the NYPD’s flippant disregard for human rights, not to mention the constitution, but if anything they enable that too, and then tie the city’s hands in those odd cases where it shows interest in reforming itself.
    3. Yes, the city council is stupid. I agree. They still have a bit more awareness of issues relevant to New York City than the slope-brows cloistered in Albany, who are more often than not completely hostile to us and our interests, and then often grifters on top of that.
    4. Hurr, so what? This sounds more like a case for toppling the state than lauding its poor decision-making.

  • Speed Safety

    As an Australian who has had first hand experience of both American and Aussie driving conditions and has studied the effects of so called “Safety Cameras” in great detail, I can assure you that they do not reduce the road toll, indeed they cannot.There is no peer reviewed research available anywhere that supports the position that they do.
    Speed cameras have been used extensively in Australia and have been thoroughly discredited,as an example the state of Victoria has a 2 mph tolerance with draconian fines in the hundreds to thousands of dollar range yet still the road toll increases with these cameras in place.
    Look up “REDFLEX” and see what occurs when these insidious devices are allowed free reign.

    The only proven methods to lower the road toll are education, physical & social engineering along with more visible policing.

  • Anonymous

    As an Australian who has had first hand experience of both American and Aussie driving conditions and has studied the effects of so called “Safety Cameras” in great detail, I can assure you that they do not reduce the road toll, indeed they cannot.There is no peer reviewed research available anywhere that supports the position that they do.

    [Cough]
    This is false (in addition to being silly–I mean, the idea that “indeed [speed cameras] cannot [reduce what you call road toll]” is just funny).

    In any case, here’s just one example of the vast peer-reviewed literature on the topic, chosen primarily because it’s not a single study but a large-scale literature review:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16533112

    (Link to the abstract)

    And part of the conclusion:

    Speed-camera networks and speed calming lead to large, sustainable, and highly cost-effective drops in road deaths and injuries and should target entire populations, not merely high-risk subgroups or situations. . . . The human cost of the delay in killing speed in the United States may be as high as 20,000 lives lost per year.

    But shine on, you crazy diamonds, and keep insisting that science doesn’t support . . . science.

  • Pro Drive

    You need to read that quoted report in it’s entirety, not cherry picked abstracts.

  • Michael Silver

    NY has the distinction of being the least free state in the union and is called the “Nanny State” with politicians legislating what we eat and drink: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/national/slaves_of_new_york_rqtIdKyjvGPfdKDhTeMJAN

  • Brad Aaron

    Thankfully this is a small step toward kids being free to walk outside without being killed.

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