Van Bramer + 24 Council Members Call on Albany to Allow More Speed Cams
City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer, 24 of his colleagues, and Public Advocate Letitia James are calling on the state legislature to expand NYC’s life-saving automated speed enforcement program.
Assembly Bill 9861, sponsored by Deborah Glick, would allow New York City to expand its speed camera program to every school in the five boroughs. It would also allow the cameras to operate at all hours, instead of only during school activities, and make the program permanent (it’s currently set to expire in 2018).
Van Bramer introduced a resolution yesterday with 25 co-sponsors calling on the state legislature to do away with the limit on the number of speed cameras NYC can employ. A separate resolution from Council Member Carlos Menchaca, with eight co-sponsors, calls for the elimination of the time-of-day restrictions on automated speed enforcement.
Van Bramer, James, and the two dozen other sponsors of the resolution — including Public Safety Committee Chair Vanessa Gibson and Deputy Leader for Policy Brad Lander — also sent a letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo urging him to support the expansion of the speed camera program [PDF].
“All pedestrians, particularly children, are at a heightened risk of traumatic injury and death in speed-related crashes,” the letter says.
State law currently limits the city to 140 speed cameras for its 6,000 miles of streets. The cameras can only be used during school activities — even though most fatal crashes occur at night.
Speeding has dropped by 60 percent in locations with automated enforcement since the city first began using the cameras in 2013, according to NYC DOT. In 2014 and 2015, traffic deaths in New York City reached historic lows, but more than 200 people each year still lose their lives to motor vehicle crashes on city streets.
Speaking earlier this month alongside mothers who lost their children to traffic violence, Van Bramer said speed cameras belong at every school. “I have had constituents complain to me that they got tickets because they were speeding outside of a school,” he said. “They should get tickets if they’re speeding anywhere in the city of New York, but particularly in front [of] or near a school.”
Glick’s bill currently has 22 other sponsors in the 150-member Assembly. Her office is currently amending the bill’s language to specify that it only applies to New York City, after “conversations with the committee,” which is chaired by Rochester representative David Gantt. Ultimately, Speaker Carl Heastie has final say on which bills get taken up in committee. His staff told Streetsblog they “are reviewing the bill” and offered no further comment.
In the State Senate, Jose Peralta, a Queens Democrat, introduced a companion bill on May 12. But the legislation needs a sponsor from the Republican-Independent Democratic Conference majority to be viable. Senator Jeff Klein leads the IDC and has sponsored past speed enforcement bills. His office sent this statement:
Senator Klein has been a leader for safe streets and previously sponsored legislation that established speed camera use to reduce speeding and accidents in our school zones. Our office is currently reviewing legislation provided to us by New York City, and Senator Klein remains committed to working to keep New York City’s streets safe for children, pedestrians and drivers.
You can contact your state representatives about the speed camera bill via Transportation Alternatives petition, or look up your assembly member and state senator and say you support the Every School Speed Safety Camera Act (A9861 in the Assembly and S7776 in the State Senate).