Albany Inaction Leaves Most NYC School Zones Fair Game for Speeding Motorists

A new Transportation Alternatives report finds that speeding is common outside schools where cameras aren't in use.

TransAlt observed 92 percent of motorists speeding outside P.S./I.S. 30 in Bay Ridge. Image: Google Maps
TransAlt observed 92 percent of motorists speeding outside P.S./I.S. 30 in Bay Ridge. Image: Google Maps

With the State Senate failing to pass legislation to expand NYC’s speed camera program, reckless drivers continue to put schoolchildren at risk. A report released today by Transportation Alternatives [PDF] found rampant speeding outside schools where no cameras are present.

Eight-five percent of traffic fatalities and injuries occur at times and locations that are ineligible for speed camera enforcement under Albany’s restrictions, according to DOT. To get a sense of how those restrictions enable dangerous driving, TransAlt researchers took LIDAR speed guns to six school zones where there are no cameras.

In some cases, researchers clocked drivers during times when speed cameras, if present, would have been operational. Other data samples were collected at times when Albany doesn’t allow the city to use cameras, but when children were present. Locations where cameras are permitted under current state law were included in the survey, as were locations where children would typically be — streets children must cross to get to schools, for example — but where Albany nonetheless prohibits automated speed enforcement.

Outside of P.S./I.S. 30 in Bay Ridge, 92 percent of drivers were driving above the speed limit on a weekday afternoon.

Seventy-four percent of drivers were found speeding on Manor Road, in front of the entrance to Staten Island’s Susan E. Wagner High School, days after a motorist struck and injured a 15-year-old student.

Outside schools in Harlem, Flushing, and Allerton, one-third of drivers were traveling above the speed limit.

Legislation passed by the Assembly yesterday would have enabled cameras at an additional 150 school zones over the next three years, up from the current limit of 140. But Senate Republicans like Marty Golden and Andrew Lanza prefer that speeding — the leading cause of fatal crashes in NYC — go unchecked outside the majority of schools.

“What we observed outside a handful of New York City schools is not unusual or exceptional — it is the rule,” the TransAlt report says. “In a truly equitable city, school children would not be subject to what is essentially a lottery to determine whether they get protection from speeding drivers on their way to and from school.”

“When we return to resolve mayoral control [of city schools], we must also do what’s right for our children in terms of their safety too,” Senate sponsor Jose Peralta said in a statement.

“We are thankful that the Assembly passed an expansion of the speed camera program, which we believe has already saved lives,” DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said in a statement. “We will continue to fight for this bill to become law.”

  • Vooch

    Streets in front of all schools should be car free during school days

  • reasonableexplanation

    So in many (most?) K-8 schools in NYC, the kids are either not allowed outside at all during the day, or only to a yard attached directly to the school, meaning they don’t interact with the street at all.

    Wouldn’t it make sense to limit whatever school restrictions around those schools to the hours kids are actually coming and going? e.g. an hour or two in the morning plus the time that school and after school program let out?

  • JK

    No. What makes sense is to have NYC make decisions about NYC — not the state, and have the cameras on 24/7, operate them anywhere speeding is a problem (aka — everywhere in NYC) and have the cameras issue summonses for motorists speeding 5mph over the speed limit (instead of 11mph over the limit.) The school zone and time of day restrictions are arbitrary constraints and the product of political necessity.

  • reasonableexplanation

    That’s fine, but if we’re going to have a debate on putting up speed cameras independent of school use, let’s have an honest one, and drop the “political necessity” of “do it for the children.”

  • Vooch

    of course currently children are not able to be outside in front of school; drivers are likely going to kill them.

    car free street in front of school and now it is safe

  • reasonableexplanation

    Cars are not why kids aren’t allowed outside. The threat from the administration’s point of view is other people (stranger danger, however silly that is).

    That’s why many schools don’t let kids out at all, even when there’s a park adjacent.

    If you want schoolkids to play in the streets you’d have to close the street down for everybody, not just cars. Sorry buddy.

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