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All of NYC Officialdom Blasts Marty Golden and Senate GOP for Letting Speed Cameras Expire

9:23 AM EDT on June 25, 2018

Mayor de Blasio has been a strong supporter of speed cameras. Photo: Benjamin Canter/Mayoral Photography Office

If New York City controlled its own streets, speed cameras would fine reckless drivers at far more than 140 school zones. But that decision isn't up to the city, it's up to Albany and the State Senate, where Republican Marty Golden and rogue Democrat Simcha Felder have brought the city's life-saving speed camera program to the brink.

A rally at Union Square yesterday made it clear that the Senate GOP doesn't speak for the will of the city. A huge slate of local elected officials led by Mayor de Blasio blasted Senate Republicans for failing to renew and expand the speed camera program, which expires on July 25.

"Go back to Albany and do your job," said de Blasio, flanked by Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie of the Bronx, Public Advocate Tish James, Comptroller Scott Stringer, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, and several other elected officials.

The Republican-controlled State Senate adjourned last week without passing the Every School Speed Camera Act, which would renew the speed camera program and increase the number of school zones covered from 140 to 290. The Assembly passed the bill this session.

In the Senate, Golden has said he supports the bill, but the end of the session and its aftermath showed that was a lie. On Friday, Golden, Felder, and Staten Island Republican Andrew Lanza put forward a bill that would destroy the speed camera program after six months and fund stop signs and traffic signals instead.

It's a cynical maneuver that has nothing to do with public safety. Stop signs and traffic lights are already ubiquitous at intersections. They don't reduce deadly speeding. The wide, dangerous arterial streets that need speed cameras the most have no shortage of traffic signals -- which are green half the time, and which drivers can blow through at deadly speed with no consequences.

"Don't insult our intelligence," de Blasio said. "People have been blowing by stop signs and running through lights for time immemorial. How many New Yorkers have we seen speed up when they see a yellow light? No, what actually stops people from speeding is speed cameras."

The evidence speaks for itself: Speeding violations have dropped 63 percent on streets with the cameras. Citywide traffic fatalities have fallen every year since the first speed cameras were installed in 2013. By allowing the program to sunset, Senate Republicans are going to get people killed.

"This issue -- the issue of pedestrian and biker safety on our streets -- must be viewed as a public health crisis," said Dr. Nicholas Gavin, who runs the emergency room at NYU-Langone Brooklyn, which serves Golden's district. "When we have, as a society, chosen to address public health issues in the past, whether it be smoking, the HIV epidemic, opioid crisis, or whatever, we've chosen to us multifaceted interventions that are proven to work in smaller, controlled settings. This is exactly what we have here."

Three years ago, Families for Safe Streets called on Albany to bring speed cameras to every school zone in the city, 24 hours a day. That legislation was scaled back -- first to 750 school zones during school hours, then to 290 -- to appease legislators like Golden, who finally signed on as a co-sponsor last month.

But Golden has done nothing to move the bill forward. Golden has strong ties to the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, the largest union representing NYPD officers, which opposes the speed camera program. Since 2015, the union has sent $19,200 to Golden's campaign.

Cameras, unlike uniformed officers, ticket PBA members for speeding. Speed cameras have caught Golden's Cadillac exceeding the limit by at least 11 mph in a school zone 14 times since 2013, including three so far this year.

"Senator Golden sat down with us several times in the last few months. He sat down with residents, and he promised us he would ensure passage of the speed safety camera bill," said Families for Safe Streets founder Amy Cohen. "Senator Golden, leave the identification of what works to the experts. As one of the most senior members of your conference, if you wanted to get this done, it would be done."

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