Speed Camera Foe Eric Ulrich Says He Cares About Street Safety

Does Eric Ulrich really believe that motorists who drive at up to 45 mph on neighborhood streets “pose no threat to anybody else on the road,” as he said at a City Council hearing Monday? You be the judge.

Eric Ulrich is in favor of traffic calming, when he's not ridiculing it.

We contacted Ulrich’s office yesterday to see if he was aware that motorists have killed at least four pedestrians in his district in the last 11 months. The victims include John Eberling, 76, an active retiree killed by an alleged drunk driver; Sheena Mathew, 38, a mother of young children struck by a motorist who did not stop; Francisco Camacho, 59, hit head-on by a driver on Cross Bay Boulevard; and Rohan Singh, 47, an immigrant from Guyana left to die in the street by a hit-and-run killer.

In an email to Ulrich’s office, we asked if he knew the identities of these victims, and if he has spoken with their families. We asked if he knows that speeding is the lead factor in NYC traffic deaths, and that the probability of pedestrian death increases dramatically with motorist speed.

Ulrich has publicly ridiculed proven safety measures, and his reaction to a bloody crash outside his own district office was to tell those concerned about vehicular violence to “get a life.” In light of his performance on Monday, his opposition to speed cameras, and previous dismissive remarks regarding street safety, we also asked what Ulrich is doing to reduce traffic deaths in his district, assuming he considers them an issue.

Here is his response, in its entirety:

First, let me begin by thanking you for your concern for the safety of my constituents. I share this concern and want you to know that I am committed to ensuring the safety of pedestrians, motorists and cyclists alike — not only in my district but across the five Boroughs. I believe that greater traffic enforcement by the NYPD and installing traffic calming measures such as speed bumps and stop signs in speed prone locations is the best way to achieve this goal. If the State Legislature approves the use of speed cameras, I believe they will be used primarily as revenue generators for the city’s coffers. Therefore, I am opposed to Res. No. 916-A and will be voting “no” at tomorrow’s stated meeting.

Strip away the platitudes and what we know for sure is that, once again, Eric Ulrich opposes definitive action to reduce crashes and save lives.

  • Anonymous

    [shivers off the creepiness of reading an entire paragraph in Ulrich-speak]

    If the State Legislature approves the use of speed cameras, I believe they will be used primarily as revenue generators for the city’s coffers.

    So what? I really don’t get it: why do people care that the city might bring in money from tickets? I thought we needed to figure out new sources of revenue, since obviously we can’t raise taxes–heaven forfend! So why not make money from this?

    (Let’s set aside the likelihood that the tickets, because they’re for such small amounts and because they could very well reduce speeding in general, could actually in the long run reduce revenue.)

    And do you think Ulrich would be willing to send Streetsblog a list of 20 places in his district that would benefit from speed bumps and stop signs? I’m sure he’ll put his shoulder into making sure the city puts them in. (Also: how many intersections are there in his area that don’t already have a stop sign or a light?)

  • Anonymous

    So, what traffic engineers or safety experts did Ulrich consult in forming his opinion on this issue? Based on his position, presumably none.

  • Voter

    Is the councilmember aware of how many people have been killed or injured by drivers who ignore stop signs? What kind of force field does Ulrich think these signs emit that allows them to magically stop reckless driving?

  • Anonymous
  • Danny G

    It’s pretty easy for Ulrich, as a legislator, to make sure that they aren’t used as revenue generators: Simply slip a line of text into the bill requiring that the camera locations are determined by where there are numerous pedestrian deaths from crashes where speeding is a factor. He can even take credit for making it a better bill, instead of simply being Mr. No.

  • Mark Walker

    The “revenue generators” argument comes up time and again. Tell you what, Eric: Let’s direct all the revenue to a fund that would compensate the victims of automotive violence. Let’s also move the decimal point on the fines, increasing them to 10 times what they are now. That way, Eric, you could keep all that money out of the city government’s filthy hands, and street safety advocates would get a highly effective deterrent to motorist lawbreaking.

  • Maris

    Instead of a fine, would Mr. Ulrich prefer that we submit lawbreakers caught on camera to electric shocks? Near drownings?

    Ok – I like Mark Walker’s suggestion better.

  • Brad Aaron

    Attach license points or some other substantive penalty, it’s totalitarianism. Attach no penalty other than a relatively meager fine, it’s a revenue scam.

  • All who voted for this person should be ashamed. He is no fit representative for the people.

  • Anonymous

    “If the State Legislature approves the use of speed cameras, I believe
    they will be used primarily as revenue generators for the city’s

    To play devil’s advocate, isn’t this pretty similar to what people here were saying yesterday? That the cameras would be placed where they would generate the most revenue but would not do much to improve safety for vulnerable street users (i.e. on limited-access highways) rather than where they would do the most good for safety (i.e. in neighborhoods)? The right thing to do here is to take the guy at his word and ask him when he will be sponsoring his own bill to put in (and fund) those traffic calming measures and added traffic enforcement.

  • Why hasn’t someone who takes safety seriously stepped forward to challenge Ulrich in the primary?

  • His operating premise — that deriving revenue from illegal activity is somehow bad — is asinine.

  • Andrew

    Set the fine high enough that the program covers its costs, it’s a revenue scam.
    Set the fine low enough that the program doesn’t cover its costs, it’s a waste of money.

  • Andrew

    Most of the people who were saying that were trolls. The only regular poster, as I recall, was Joe R., but I think most of us disagree with him on that point.

  • Joe R.

    Most may disagree with me, but I happen to know the mentality of those who run things. If those who install and service the speed cameras get a percentage of the fines, then they will have sway over where they’re installed. The only way to make sure they’re not installed on limited access highways is to say so in the bill. I doubt such a clause would make the bill harder to pass. In fact, it would probably make the bill harder to oppose. Ulrich may make a valid point if he’s referring solely to going 15 mph over the limit on the LIE, but his logic fails badly when he’s referring to local streets. A “no highway” clause will basically put anyone who opposes the bill as being on record against safer streets.

  • Joe R.

    Your last sentence hits the nail on the head. Stop signs and stop lights are already grossly overused in this city, to the point they have less and less effect. They actually make the speeding problem worse, not better. Speed bumps may help, but I’ve never seen them installed on major arterials, only on side streets.

  • Anonymous

    He’s a Queens Tea Partier, I’m ashamed to say.

  • Anonymous

    He is for traffic calming? That’s a big change, right?

  • Jimmy

    Spot on, Joe.

  • Adam.Anon

    Geez, how do idiot pricks like this get into public offices?!?

  • Anonymous

    His speech was so tea party scripted that it should have been laughable…in fact it was scary because it looked like he believed it…. We now have our own Taliban…