If New Yorkers Lose Life-Saving Speed Cameras, Blame Andrew Cuomo

Cuomo’s support for speed cameras began and ended with a photo-op. Photo: @marco_conner
Cuomo’s support for speed cameras began and ended with a photo-op. Photo: @marco_conner

Governor Cuomo and the State Senate appear prepared to let more people die in New York City traffic: Minus a last-minute reprieve, the city’s speed safety camera program will expire in a few weeks.

Despite onerous limitations imposed by Albany, automated speed enforcement has made NYC streets safer. Speeding drops 63 percent where cameras are present, and 85 percent of traffic deaths and severe injuries occur when and where Albany prohibits their use. Traffic deaths declined as more cameras were deployed in 2014 and 2015, with fatality figures plateauing as state lawmakers have since failed to authorize the program’s expansion.

Outside the realm of “cash grab” conspiracy theorists, the value of speed cameras is not in dispute. The Every School Speed Camera Act, which would expand the number of camera locations in the city from 140 to 290 and extend the program through 2021, was endorsed by everyone from Cuomo and Senate power broker Marty Golden to AARP and trauma surgeons.

As it did in 2017, the Assembly passed the speed camera bill during the budget session. Though it had the votes on the Senate side, Majority Leader John Flanagan let the bill stall in Simcha Felder’s Cities Committee. Over the weekend, the Senate dumped speed cameras into omnibus legislation that as of now is forecast to go nowhere.

Cuomo could have backed up his recent photo-op by pressuring Flanagan and the Senate to get speed cameras passed. But since he’s allowed senators to use Felder’s clownish guns-for-cameras demand as an excuse to let camera legislation languish, come July reckless drivers could be endangering more New Yorkers’ lives.

The legislative session is not over, but time to re-up speed cameras is running out. Transportation Alternatives is encouraging New Yorkers to call Cuomo, Flanagan, Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie to urge them to pass S6046C/A7798C this week.

Said TransAlt Executive Director Paul Steely White, in a statement:

Transportation Alternatives is encouraged to see real leadership from Albany in the inclusion of speed camera re-authorization and expansion in S9097. It is testament that legislators are heeding the hundreds of calls they’ve gotten from constituents, and are beginning to take seriously the daily risk incurred by children walking to school. But at the end of the day, a bill is not passed until it is passed. Whether in S9097 or not, we need to make sure that the re-authorization and expansion of speed cameras passes this session. We know incontrovertibly that speed cameras protect children outside their schools. What we do not yet know is if legislators in Albany will be brave enough to grant our kids that protection.

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