Cuomo Gets on Board With Speed Camera Expansion

The governor's support could break through the inertia in the State Senate, where speed camera expansion has enough votes to pass but is stalled in committee by Brooklyn's Simcha Felder.

Sofie An, 9, speaking out for speed cameras at today's rally. Photo: David Meyer
Sofie An, 9, speaking out for speed cameras at today's rally. Photo: David Meyer

NYC school kids rallied outside Governor Cuomo’s Manhattan office today for an expansion of the city’s speed camera program. Before the event got started, Cuomo happened to walk by and said he supports the bill to roughly double the number of speed cameras the city is permitted to operate.

The rally which was organized by Children United to Rein-in Breakneck Speeding (C.U.R.B.) and the Vision Zero Youth Council. With the Albany session approaching the home stretch and the speed cam bill tantalizingly close to passage, dozens of schoolchildren were there to ask Cuomo to put it over the top.

The Every School Speed Camera Act would expand the number of camera locations in the city from 140 to 290. The Assembly passed versions of the bill in 2017 and again during this year’s budget session, but in the State Senate it’s hung up in the Cities Committee, chaired by Brooklyn’s Simcha Felder.

Kids who’ve lost friends to traffic crashes implored the governor to put his political weight behind the speed camera expansion.

“We need to put safety cameras near every public school in our city. These cameras are used to make sure people slow down and follow the laws of safe driving,” said Sofie An, 9, whose P.S. 162 classmate Giovanni Ampuero was killed by a hit-and-run driver in a Northern Boulevard crosswalk earlier this year. “No family or anyone should ever have to suffer like this again.”

After Cuomo walked by, he sent his lead counsel, Alphonso David, and Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa to the rally to affirm his support for the speed camera bill.

“We think that this is incredible that these kids are getting involved in the political process,” David said. “This is an important issue, the governor supports it, and we want to make sure that Albany listens to them.”

With all of the Senate Democrats plus Republicans Marty Golden and Patty Ritchie (whose district borders Canada) sponsoring the bill, it has a majority in the chamber. But Felder hasn’t let it out of his committee, and Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan is loathe to override him, Politico reported this morning.

If Albany fails to pass the legislation, not only will the speed camera program not expand — it will expire in July and cease to exist.

Cuomo’s support could nudge Flanagan to muscle Felder aside and bring the bill to the floor for a vote.

“[The governor] knows that these streets are these kids’ streets and we want to make sure that they stay safe,” said DeRosa. “You’ve got our support, anything we can do.”

  • brian43ny

    Still living with a Republican Majority leader? I thought Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins would be Majority leader. Guess we are still living with the IDC mess.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Feder rules. Why? Because he has the potential to flip the Senate one way or the other.

    What if a bunch of people who actually represented the interests of people under age 60 were to run as third party candidates, and enough of them were to win to flip the Senate back and forth? Just asking. The IDC is the only group to try it. Others could use their methods for other objectives.

  • Can you imagine Felder actually flipping to the other side? I can’t. Just an empty threat from that guy.

  • jcwconsult

    Speed cameras are expensive and will return profits above their own high costs ONLY when used in places where the posted limits are improperly and less-safely set 8 to 10 or more mph lower than the safest 85th percentile speed levels. Speed cameras are for-profit rackets that no one should support.
    James C. Walker, National Motorists Association

  • Knut Torkelson

    These are not a profit generating mechanism- they’re a life saving mechanism. They’ve already been proven efficient at reducing speeding outside NYC schools where they’ve been set. Whether or not they turn a profit is immaterial to their main function- to reduce car speeds and make our streets, schools and children safer.

    Take your anti human, anti child, anti safety lobbying elsewhere.

  • Knut Torkelson

    It’s not the IDC mess anymore- it’s the Felder mess now.

  • jcwconsult

    No city uses enough of the roughly $3,000/month cameras to reduce the speeds of most cars because then the cameras would become a large cost item in the budget. Put a camera every block or two, put large clear signs in front of each one, time the traffic lights for just under the posted limit, put clear signs every couple of blocks that the lights are timed for XX mph, and the actual speeds of almost all drivers will be compliant. You will never see that, because the costs would be way too high.

    The other way to get very high compliance, also an expensive way, is to engineer the streets so that about 85% of the drivers feel safe and comfortable only at speeds up to XX mph.

    Most cities prefer to use enough cameras to make large profits, but continue to have a high level of non-compliance because that is where the profits come from.

    Speed cameras are illegal in my state and should be in every state.

    James C. Walker, National Motorists Association

  • Scott Voolker

    You know what? I don’t want to see motorists getting fined either because that means that the violation has already occurred. So I have a better solution for you: instead of speed cameras, all new vehicles will be equipped with a GPS-based speed interlock system that automatically does not allow the vehicle to travel faster than the speed limit on any street in the U.S. The technology for this already exists, and it is inexpensive. So if you afraid of injustice being done to motorists, but at the same time you are concerned about 40 thousand people killed on our streets annually, you will get behind this proposal.

  • Speed governors should be mandatory everywhere. This would end all the nonsense and pseudoscience about the 85th percentile (which was never meant to apply to city streets, anyway). Cities and counties could then set any speed limit they wished, according to the only critierion that matters: public safety.

  • jcwconsult

    Since so many posted speed limits are set so far below the safest levels, I could not support that.

    James C. Walker, National Motorists Association

  • jcwconsult

    The 1992 Parker study of 100 locations showed the 85th percentile principle applies in both urban and rural areas. The same is true of the 1941 National Safety Council Report on Speed – the oldest printed reference I have to the principle of how to set the safest speed limits.
    James C. Walker, National Motorists Association

  • LinuxGuy

    They are going to force people to move out of NY.

  • Scott Voolker

    Most definitely they are not set below the safest levels as the 40 thousand people who are victims of vehicular homicide every year in the United States can attest. When I drive and the speed limit is 25, I do not go over the speed limit–I do not go 26,I do not go 30, I go 25 or less. Apparently you prefer people to be criminals; by definition, a criminal is someone who doesn’t follow the law. Why is it that people like you, who advocate for criminal behavior when it comes to driving, do not do so when it comes to other areas of public life? Within a short period of time, we are not going to be having this argument because self-driving cars are going to take over the new car market. Waymo has demonstrated that the technology is ready, and the tens of thousands of self-driving modules that they have already purchased will be utilized for a commercial roll-out of their mobility services. A company does not buy 60,000-plus Chrysler minivans for any kind of experimental purposes. Once this happens, we will look back with horror on the current state of affairs on our roads, and we will be wondering why we were ever willing to put up with the senseless carnage. By the way, in many ways the whole idea of a “speed limit” is anachronism. What we need is all metal boxes headed in the same direction to go at exactly the same speed.

    In the meantime, we do need speed cameras to deter criminal behavior by individuals such as yourself, who routinely and flagrantly violate the law.

  • Scott Voolker

    My guess is that the 85th percentile for walking for Americans is around 3.5 miles per hour, so surely that is the speed limit then that you have in mind for all urban areas? Walking is the natural way for people to get around.

  • jcwconsult

    I advocate for reality, not unrealistic theory. If the 85th percentile speed is 37 mph and the limit is 25 – anyone driving 25 or below is likely in the bottom less-than-10% of the flow with a much higher risk of being in a crash than drivers near the 85th percentile speed, say 35-39 mph. THAT is the reality, so feel free to be in the under 10% of the flow, but recognize you have a higher risk to be in or cause a crash than drivers in the main flow which would be from about 28 to 73 mph (the 10 mph Pace that tends to contain 70% to 80% of the total flow).

    I got my first license in 1960 when the fatality rate was about 5.1 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled. Today it is about 1.2 fatalities per 100 M VMT, over 75% safer with out 3+ trillion miles of travel.

    James C. Walker, National Motorists Association

  • jcwconsult

    Sure, if you want to post speed limits for sidewalks. But I am talking about speed limits for roads.

    James C. Walker, National Motorists Association

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