Safety Advocates To Plan Political Strategy As Speed Cameras Get Shut Down Today

Failure by Golden and Flanagan point to need for action.

Children rallied in Albany last year for more speed cameras, but the State Senate allowed them to expire. Photo: Brad Aaron
Children rallied in Albany last year for more speed cameras, but the State Senate allowed them to expire. Photo: Brad Aaron

One hour after the city’s last school-zone speed camera will set to be turned off today due to Albany inaction, supporters of safe streets will rally — and devise a political strategy for getting the life-saving electronic eyes back in business before the start of the school year in September.

Transportation Alternatives is calling its 6:30 p.m. rally at Park Slope’s MS-51 “an all-city assembly to organize our resistance to the speed camera shutdown.”

“We are all at risk. We will not take it sitting down,” the group’s advocacy director Tom DeVito said in a statement. “For every elected official who was too lazy, greedy, or obstinate to protect us when they had the chance, know that you have unleashed a coming storm. From our schools to the streets, we will protest, we will disobey, we will not back down.”

DeVito’s statement came hours after Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-Suffolk) announced that he would not allow a vote on an Assembly-backed bill to reauthorize the traffic enforcement cameras, putting out a statement that blamed everyone else but his own Republican-controlled chamber for the end of the speed camera program today.

A spokesman for Sen. Marty Golden, a Bay Ridge Republican who claimed he supported the Assembly bill, but then proposed a last-minute bill that would have dismantled them in favor of more traffic lights, declined to comment. Studies show that traffic lights increase speeding while speed cameras deter it.

Gov. Cuomo issued a statement late Tuesday that slammed Flanagan and Golden for inaction.

“Our first obligation as elected officials is to ensure public safety, and there’s indisputable evidence showing speed cameras save children’s lives,” Cuomo said. “The Senate Republicans’ refusal to return to Albany and pass this legislation is a complete dereliction of that duty. This is not an ideological issue — Senator Golden and his conference are playing politics with the lives of children, and it’s transparent.  

“Here’s a tip for Senator Golden — maybe he should hold a protest in front of Senator Flanagan’s office and demand he bring his own conference back to Albany to vote for speed cameras on the merits, like they should have done in June,” Cuomo’s statement continued. “If it helps the Senator, I will repeat the call for the Senate Republicans to immediately return to Albany and pass the bill that sits on their desk — I will sign it the same day.”

Some Cuomo critics pointed out that the governor could call a special session himself, but his spokesman Peter Ajemian batted down that suggestion.

“Only Senator Flanagan has the power to put the bill on the floor for a vote. And that’s what we’re calling on him to do,” Ajemian told Streetsblog this morning.

Flanagan did not respond to questions this morning.

City officials will mourn the loss of the speed camera program, which caught more than three million scofflaws since 2014, with a press conference at 3 p.m. today at a parking garage in Long Island City that serves as the Department of Transportation’s base for 40 of the 140 speed cameras.

The promised visual? “DOT vehicles that serve as mobile camera units returning to the garage” with the deactivated cameras, according to a statement.

All-City Assembly to Save Speed Cameras, M.S. 51, 350 Fifth Ave, between Fourth and Fifth streets in Brooklyn, July 25, 6:30 p.m. For more information, click here.

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Right now, Albany limits NYC to 140 speed enforcement cameras for all 6,000 miles of surface streets in the city. A broad spectrum of New York City voters approve of expanding the program. The question is whether Albany Democrats Andrew Cuomo, Jeff Klein, and Carl Heastie will take action to save lives.