New Yorkers Will Die Because Cuomo Failed to Get a Speed Camera Bill Through Albany

Cuomo put muscle behind his pet AirTrain project, not the speed camera bill he promised to move.

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

Streetsblog has covered many Albany sessions that ended in shame and disappointment, but the finale of this year’s legislative session marks a new low.

After five years of indisputable empirical evidence that New York City’s speed cameras save lives, the State Senate did not hold a vote on a bill to renew and expand the program. The city’s 140 speed cameras will be shut off this summer unless the State Senate reconvenes and enacts an extension.

In typical Albany fashion, there were multiple villains, sending advocates in different directions and diffusing the intensity of the campaign to expand the speed camera program.

But culpability ultimately rests with Governor Cuomo. He posed for a selfie and said he would move the speed camera bill. He proved he could get his top priorities through the divided legislature. And yet he still failed to broker a deal on a critical public safety program that’s coincided with a nearly 30 percent drop in citywide traffic deaths.

Barring intervention by Cuomo, in a few weeks the speed cameras will go off and their life-saving deterrent power will evaporate.

A governor who wanted to get a deal done on speed cameras could have gotten a deal done. A majority of the State Senate was on the record in support of the bill, and Simcha Felder alone is not enough to withstand the pressure Cuomo can put on Senate leadership.

The proof of Cuomo’s influence, even in Albany’s fractious state, is that the only substantial legislation to emerge at the end of the session was a bill to expedite one of his pet projects, the “backward” LaGuardia AirTrain that no credible transit expert supports.

Cuomo has signaled for years that he wants to build this rail line linking LGA to Willets Point. The circuitous route won’t help people get between Manhattan and LGA any faster, but will spin off lucrative work for contractors and enrich Willets Point property owners. Those are core Cuomo constituencies. New York City kids who dodge speeding traffic on their way to school must not count as much.

If you’re disgusted by Cuomo’s failure to act on behalf of public safety, head to his Midtown office at 633 Third Avenue tonight at 6:30 p.m. Transportation Alternatives and Families for Safe Streets will be rallying to demand the governor reconvene the legislature and get this bill done.

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