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

Mayor de Blasio called on state senators Marty Golden, Simcha Felder, and Andrew Lanza to save lives and renew the speed camera program.

Photo: Benjamin Canter/Mayoral Photography Office
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.”

  • neroden

    The PBA is a criminal organization. It needs to be investigated by the Attorney General and brought up on RICO charges.

  • J-D

    Looks like the mafia is alive and well in NYC and NYS. Vote these unAmerican, traitorous criminals out of office.

  • Aaron

    As somebody who makes nearly 100% of trips by bike including riding with my 5yo to school daily, I’d like to see traffic reined in for sure, but I’m no fan of these cameras either. Organizations like PBA may be reprehensible for their general foot dragging, but the privacy and civil rights issues raised by such cameras also, correctly, have gotten the attention of the ACLU in parts of the country. Abuse of capture technology and the resulting databases and the issue of due processes being handed over to private companies with a profit interest in not seeing the underlying problem obsoleted are serious issues, even for an alternative transportation enthusiast.

    I can’t argue the stat about their impact on dropping traffic fatalities in NYC, but the way that number is blithely offered up here seems to ignore the impact on other less legally problematic methods calming and reducing traffic and increasing non-car share. As counter, the two major camera companies RedFlex and American Traffic Solutions base their US offices in Arizona, a state that despite wide embrace of the technology managed to go from the 5th worse for pedestrian fatalities in 2016 to the worse in 2017. RedFlex’s main headquarters is in Australia, another country with some pretty backwards laws targeting cyclists. RedFlex boasts of the surveillance work they’ve done for the Saudi government, something to keep in mind as nationally we see the databases developed from these cameras abused by ICE and other law enforcement, currently the subject of lawsuits.

    And back to the physics of their impact: most places, and I’m assuming NYC is the same, one needs to be 10mph over the posted speed to be ticketed. Should one really be driving 34mph, 25mph or even 20mph past a group of young kids? Traffic cameras don’t get you to where the speed of cars is either safe or at least congruent with the flow of non-car traffic. They do become an entrenched surveillance device and a money maker for the service based camera companies.

  • “Hey, Hey Marty G, how many school zones did you speed thru today?” Chant at his fundraisers and bug him daily @SenMartyGolden

  • Iris

    “I can’t argue the stat about their impact on dropping traffic fatalities in NYC”
    What else is there to say? Wait until it’s your child or a child in your neighborhood or any child for that matter.

  • Aaron

    Obviously, there’s plenty to say on this subject. But, thanks for threatening my child with some fear mongering as a stand-in for a rational, supported argument. Many of us want solutions towards safer streets and are hardly complacent in that quest. That doesn’t mean that we’re going to support every last legally and economically problematic proposal, particularly one with such a dubious track record of success and a cornucopia of untoward side effects.

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