Gounardes Pushing 750 Speed Cameras With Expanded Hours — A Direct Challenge to Cuomo’s Paltry Proposal

The freshman State Senator is carrying Assembly Member Deborah Glick's previously passed legislation — but this time, passage is likely in the Senate, setting up a conflict with the governor.

Assembly Member Deborah Glick and State Senator Andrew Gounardes (who now has a beard, FYI)
Assembly Member Deborah Glick and State Senator Andrew Gounardes (who now has a beard, FYI)

New York City would be able to deploy speed camera systems at 750 schools — and have them in operation from 6 a.m. until 10 p.m. — under a just-unveiled bill that would dramatically expand the effectiveness of a proven lifesaving tool that Governor Cuomo is seeking to only slightly expand.

New State Senator Andrew Gounardes (D-Bay Ridge) and veteran Assembly Member Deborah Glick (D-Manhattan) submitted the bill on Thursday, more than double the 290 school-zone cameras that Cuomo had proposed last year and more than five times the current 140 school zones. More important, the proposal would allow the speed cameras to operate well beyond the current restriction of only during school hours — and they would remain on all summer long, enforcing speed limits when neighborhood streets fill with vacationing kids. The cameras could also operate within a quarter-mile radius of schools instead of merely one-quarter of a mile from the school building itself.

Glick has proposed such legislation in the past — though prior years’ version of the bill allowed for speed cameras at all of the city’s 1,700 schools — only to see such bills die in the then-Republican-controlled Senate. But the Senate is not only controlled by Democrats, but last year’s election infused the chamber with a slate of younger politicians who are critical of car culture, including Zellnor Myrie, Julia Salazar, Jessica Ramos and Gounardes, who defeated speed-camera opponent Marty Golden. Carrying this bill represents a campaign promise fulfilled for the first-year lawmaker from Bay Ridge.

Transportation Alternatives’ interim Co-Director Marco Conner called the bill “tremendous.”

“We were pushing for a half-mile radius and camera operation for 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but we are very pleased,” Conner said.

City Hall, which has consistently supported speed cameras, was also on board.

“This is ambitious legislation and we look forward to working with the Legislature to advance the life-saving speed camera program,” said mayoral spokesman Seth Stein.

It is unclear what will happen next: The Assembly and the Senate will likely pass the bills, setting up a clash with Cuomo, who hasn’t agreed to more than the 290 that he proposed. Police unions have opposed speed cameras in the past, saying that cops are better suited to punish lawbreakers of all stripes because speeders may also have committed other crimes.

But in the five years that they have been in operation, New York City’s tiny number of speed cameras, operating during school hours, have issued five million speeding tickets. By comparison, tens of thousands of NYPD officers issued roughly one-tenth that amount.

The bill would take effect 30 days after being signed by Cuomo — and would expire on July 1, 2022.

That sunset clause will bring to mind bad memories of last summer, when the State Senate allowed New York’s speed camera system to expire without setting in place a new one. Golden came under particular fire from street safety advocates because he had suggested he would push for more cameras, but then backed off — a flip-flop that became a critical issue in his subsequent defeat by Gounardes in November.

Story was updated on Friday morning to include a City Hall comment. Neither Gounardes nor Glick responded to Streetsblog’s request for comment.

  • William Lawson

    Absolutely crazy that we have to beg people who have absolutely no skin in the game for speed cameras. There should be one at EVERY intersection, operating 24/7.

  • Daphna

    This would be a HUGE improvement. But why allow speeding without consequences from 10om-6am? There are still pedestrians out at those hours!
    750 is great. Any chance of adding a zero to 7, 500? That would be even better!

  • redbike

    why allow speeding without consequences from 10om-6am?

    This is the key question. Less traffic during overnight hours: higher speed. Also — no small thing — during overnight hours it tends to be dark: poorer visibility. Overnight is when vigorous speed enforcement saves lives. Instead, we turn off the speed cameras.

  • I am guessing it is because the camera flashing can be disruptive to people trying to sleep

  • redbike

    How about the flashing lights — and sirens — on the ambulance and police cars responding to a pedestrian who’s been hit by a speeding car, or a car that’s blown a red light? That’s disruptive. Especially for the pedestrian.

  • vnm

    From the post: “The cameras could also operate within a quarter-mile radius of schools instead of merely one-quarter of a mile from the school building itself.”

    What’s the difference here, exactly? Isn’t a quarter mile radius of schools more or less the same thing as one-quarter of a mile from the school building itself?

  • jcwconsult

    The rea$on$ for $chool zone $peed limit ticket$ with for-profit camera$ during hour$ when $tudent$ are not u$ually pre$ent are obviou$, and tho$e rea$on$ do NOT include safety.
    James C. Walker, National Motorists Association

  • Joe R.

    Since speed cameras seem to elicit some controversy, as well as requiring state permission to implement, here’s a better idea. Let’s put cameras at every single intersection operating 24/7. As the cameras won’t be used to fine motorists, they won’t require state permission to install. The cameras will feed data to servers in real time where the data will be saved for at least one week, perhaps more if sufficient storage is available. Anyone will be able to access this data. Nobody will be able to change or delete it.

    Normally most of what the cameras record will be uneventful. However, when an incident happens, there will be a clear record of what happened and who was at fault. If there’s a hit-and-run, the camera will have the license plate of the perpetrator. If a pedestrian or cyclist dies, the police won’t be able to take the word of the driver by default. These cameras will do something far better than fining motorists for speeding. They will hold them accountable. That also includes those who now currently get “professional courtesy”. I’ll bet good money if this idea is floated the police unions will be among the first to oppose it. Nevertheless, I think this idea should be seriously considered. We’ve long had the technology to have every intersection under continuous surveillance 24/7 at a reasonable cost. By doing so we’ll have clear records which show the guilty party. No longer will police be able to excuse motorists for reckless actions by default.

  • Joe R.

    School grounds can sometimes extend a few hundred feet or more from the school building itself, so in theory this increases the potential area of coverage.

  • William Lawson

    Not only that, but license plates could also be recorded and the data sent to automobile insurers who are then free to use their discretion to use this data to increase the premiums of habitual law breakers.

  • William Lawson

    Oh give it a rest you pathetic, relentless shill. I do not give a f*ck how much the city is making off these cameras. Everyone who pays up does so because they’re a reckless piece of sh*t who risks lives. You don’t believe the psychotic drivers in this city need some kind of financial deterrent? People like you are the last of a dying front. You’re losing the battle. The war against cars is taking off, and things will continue to get harder for drivers and easier for pedestrians and cyclists. If you want to sit on the wrong side of history whining and moaning then fine. But you’re just wasting your life.

  • vnm

    Ahh gotcha. Thanks.

  • jcwconsult

    Enforcing “school zone” limits when no children are present is a for-profit racket – not a safety program.
    James C. Walker, National Motorists Association

  • Larry Littlefield

    I’ve concluded that expecting the NYPD to enforce traffic laws is a mistake, other than in the overnight hours when the vehicle violating such a law might hold someone under the influence and/or armed with a weapon.

    They probably can’t, and the officers certainly don’t want to. The PBA wants them to, because it’s focused on one thing only — dues revenues, not the officers themselves.

    Automated enforcement is the way to go.

    Maybe if you tell the police that person X has racked up X violations and is therefore more likely to kill or cripple someone, then they will feel like going to talk with them about it is real police work. Otherwise, keep them out of it, unless you want a high speed pursuit through a pedestrian-rich, high traffic area to pull over someone who ran a light.

  • Sincerely

    Yes, we should make sure that officers only ticket speeders after first checking if children are present. Nevermind that someone speeding in a school zone made the choice to speed without first making that check themselves. That makes perfect sense.

  • jcwconsult

    Michigan’s law allows special and lower school zone speed limits for 30 minutes before and after school and during lunch hours if kids are allowed off the grounds. I prefer one hour before and after, but it is correct that special limits don’t apply on non school days and the hours when all kids are required to be in class.
    James C. Walker, National Motorists Association

  • qrt145

    I thought what they meant was that the proposed rule would allow one-quarter mile in any direction; the current rule, if I remember correctly, only allows one-quarter mile along the street abutting the school’s front door.

  • EagleEye

    Anyone want a good laugh look at James’s website opposing red light cameras. Virtually every point he makes is false or hollow. https://www.motorists.org/issues/red-light-cameras/objections-2/

    If this is all the anti camera folks have this discussion should be short.

  • jcwconsult

    Actually, the arguments and the backlash from the public have been pretty effective to reduce the number of red light camera for-profit rackets around the USA. California once had 105 active programs and now has only 29. Florida, Texas, Iowa, and Oklahoma all have bills in their legislatures this year to ban the rackets statewide. Virginia and California made major changes to their yellow interval rules some years ago, drastically reducing the revenue from straight through violations. New Jersey ended a five year “pilot” program of red light cameras in 2014 when no safety gains could be documented and the public backlash got very fierce. Bills were introduced in Michigan in 2013 to allow red light cameras, but they were withdrawn with the combined opposition and testimony in hearings from the Police Officers Association of Michigan, the ACLU, the Campaign for Liberty, Abate, the Mackinac Center think tank, the judges association, the National Motorists Association, skeptical editorials in both major Detroit newspapers, and others – so red light camera rackets remain illegal in Michigan. We’ve had some losses for sure, but more wins than losses.
    James C. Walker, National Motorists Association

  • jcwconsult

    In Florida, Jacksonville ended cameras when the Sheriff could find no safety benefit, Collier County (Naples area) ended them in favor of longer yellows, St. Petersburg quit when enough camera supporters got voted out of office, Apopka ended them at the pledge of newly elected people, and quite a number of other FL cities have ended programs for a variety of reasons.
    James C. Walker, National Motorists Association

  • Frank Kotter

    You are using the most deadly state for pedestrians as an example of where your lobbylng to remove cameras has been most successful?

    Well, I appreciate your unintended honesty about your actual goals.

  • Frank Kotter

    You are now using the most deadly state in the Upper Midwest for pedestrians as your second example of your lobbying success.

    Again, the clarity this brings to your argument is useful for those of us who want our kids to be able to navigate their neighborhoods on their own.

  • Frank Kotter

    Is there any other example of citizens bargaining with criminals to compromise how and when we are allowed to enforce the law?

  • William Lawson

    Whether kids are present or not is irrelevant. The only reason cameras are limited to “school zones” is because they’re the only place that ignorant conservative politicians in Albany have allowed us to put them. Speed cameras protect everyone, not just kids. Again, it does not matter how much money is raised from habitually reckless drivers who refuse to abide by the law. I have absolutely no concern about how fast the wallets of morons like this are being emptied – they deserve it.

  • Sincerely

    Your little fringe group reminds me of the other “grievance politics” extremists that occasionally crawl out of the woodwork. You’ve found a niche appealing to self-centered people who are all to eager to believe they’re being persecuted when they’re simply being expected, essentially for the first time, to be responsible.

    Researchers you yourself have cited have written extensively about the safety measures you brag about opposing, I honestly don’t know how you could possibly feel good about yourself. I guess you have also suckered yourself.

  • jcwconsult

    When the Jacksonville Sheriff cannot show a safety benefit, that action was totally justified in my view. Remember, FDOT forbids setting the safest length yellows at most camera intersections since September 2013. WHY? Because the state gets an $83 commission on each $158 camera ticket without paying a penny of the $4,000 to $5,000 per month per camera costs to the for-profit camera companies. The state is an active for-profit business partner in the cameras in Florida.
    James C. Walker, National Motorists Association

  • RedDog_610

    New York is and will always be a cesspool. Once again, driving the tax base out of the State with more ludicrous ideas on “how to supplement” the 3.1 million illegal aliens that call New York home.

  • EagleEye

    From NYC DOT:

    “The City’s speed camera program proves highly effective at deterring speeding. Speeding during school hours at typical fixed camera locations drops 63 percent. Despite the fact that the City is prohibited from using speed cameras during the majority of the year, injuries at these locations have dropped 17 percent.”

    This is science, not the fiction you peddle James. Please move to Florida and assist drivers there murder more productive innocents. You are neither.

  • jcwconsult

    It is normal for ticket cameras to reduce violations by about half. It is a key part of the business plans in many cities of where to put them to assure ongoing profits from year 2 onward for profitability for as long as the public tolerates the rackets.

    There is a real chance that Florida will end the camera racket this year. Many people are working to counter the campaign contributions and lobbying from the for-profit camera companies. One of the bills to ban them passed the first committee by 12:1

    James C. Walker, National Motorists Association

  • jcwconsult

    I have taken my Lidar gun to Florida several times to document the too-short yellow intervals that result from using a “v” in the formula as much as 10 mph below the prevailing speeds. FDOT prohibits cities from setting correct yellows at most camera intersections, likely because the state gets an $83 sales commission on each $158 ticket with only $8 dedicated to anything related to safety. I’ll take the gun to Virginia in
    April to document some places where NHTSA pays police overtime to ticket safe drivers in a speed trap where only 3% of the drivers in free flowing traffic comply with the improper limit on a segment of I-95, and a couple of other traps on state highways.
    James C. Walker, National Motorists Association

  • Sincerely

    The September 2013 bulletin from FDOT actually raised the perception-reaction time used from 1.0 seconds to 1.4 seconds and raised the all-red clearance time to two seconds. That doesn’t sound like the same malicious state agency your conspiracy theory depends on.

    You’re probably confused because they also lowered the minimum allowable amber phase to 3.4 seconds. There is no requirement that it be that low, and that is above the minimum recommended by the MUTCD. It sounds like engineers often took that minimum to be a requirement, but that’s more a symptom of how traffic engineers are trained to prioritize traffic flow above all else (kind of like when you cite nebulous “negative consequences” of potentially reduced capacity whenever it’s suggested roads be engineered for safety) than it is a sign that everyone is out to get drivers.

  • jcwconsult

    I am not in the slightest bit confused. It is correct the perception/reaction time was increased to 1.4 in September 2013 which accommodates about 85% of the drivers instead of 50%. That move lowered violation rates in many places by about 30%. This came about in part due to heavy pressure from investigative reporter Noah Pransky of News10 Tampa – a man several NMA members worked with for three years.

    Raising the all-red to 2.0 minimum DOES help clear the intersections, but it is irrelevant to mis-engineered lights with too-short yellows for more tickets and camera profits. Remember, the state gets 52.5% of the total revenue ($83 of each $158 ticket) without paying a penny of the high camera costs.

    At the same time, September 2013, FDOT forbad cities from using the actual approach speed for the approach speed “v” in the formula, so at most camera intersections the yellows are too short for that reason. Here is the history of how FDOT progressively assured that the yellows would remain too short.

    Pre July 2011, V = the posted speed limit or the 85th percentile speed, whichever is greater (my emphasis)

    July 2011, the whichever is greater was eliminated, allowing cities to use the under posted limits as V

    September 2011, only the posted limit is allowed for V

    I did Lidar studies in Tampa/St. Pete revealing posted limits up to 10 mph below the 85th, often representing under the 30th percentile speed. This makes yellows up to 0.7 seconds too short for the actual conditions.

    Many FL cities have dropped cameras due to public backlash and at least 3 of the annual state reports show higher accident rates at camera intersections.

    James C. Walker, National Motorists Association

  • Sincerely

    Could you cite those three reports? The ones I’ve seen that have reported an increase in crashes at RLC sites also noted that the increases were typically less than at intersections without RLCs or in line with increases in VMT, so they wouldn’t diverge from the data we have that show RLCs usually make intersections safer.

  • jennylingpo

    Whoever voted for Gounardes over Golden deserves him. He voted to track everyone with new speed cameras, and to give illegal aliens licenses. He also supports amnesty, citizenship and free college tuition for illegal aliens, and opposes a border wall.

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