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.

  • Jeff

    I just want to hear what the city plans on doing in response. Why not stand up and say that DOT will proceed with unheard of levels of traffic calming, pedestrianization, etc., on a scale that will dwarf the level of speed reduction provided by the enforcement tools that Albany plans to take away?

  • Fool

    We could just ask NYPD to do their jobs…

    lol no.

  • ddartley

    The thing is, even if NYPD did its job perfectly on this front, there would still be tons of instances of speeding they didn’t catch. The camera program would at least reliably catch SOME of those instances.

  • ddartley

    Brad, there are enough votes in the senate? Any new Republicans?

  • Reader

    The problem is that Mayor de Blasio doesn’t think we should be proceeding any faster than we are on the street design front. He really believes Vision Zero can be achieved in a way that doesn’t inconvenience motorists all that much. He’s able to get his head around speed cameras because, as they say, “the law’s the law.” Going the speed limit doesn’t hinder anyone’s divine right to drive anywhere and everywhere they like. Traffic calming is a different beast. Bill “drives to gym” de Blasio can’t get his head around drastic measures to curb driving in the city because, as he believes, some people need to drive to the doctor.

    I don’t think much will change in terms of the mayor’s directives for DOT if speed cameras aren’t reauthorized, which is one reason why it’s so key to pressure Albany to do the right thing. There’s no local action from City Hall that’s going to make up for this. Call your representatives and encourage your friends in other cities and towns to do the same.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “Come July reckless drivers could be endangering more New Yorkers’ lives.”

    Bet that won’t be allowed to happen in Felder’s district.

  • AstoriaBlowin

    Agree, speed cameras should be the final resort that tags those who absolutely refuse to slow down, but street design should be removing/reducing the possibility of it in the first place. Not going to happen as far as I can see, frustrating to be living in a city that steadfastly refuses to increase the quality of life of its residents.

  • Brad Aaron

    https://www.politico.com/states/new-york/albany/story/2018/06/06/felder-links-speed-cameras-with-armed-police-outside-schools-453058

    “Officials and advocates are backing a bill, NY S 6046 (17R), sponsored by state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-Queens) that has the support of the chamber’s 31 Democrats plus two Republicans: Marty Golden (R-Brooklyn) and Patty Ritchie (R-Oswego County). They say it would pass if brought to a floor vote, but it’s bottled up in the Cities Committee — chaired by Felder.”

    That’s the latest count I’m aware of.

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