Say cheese! Speed camera legislation passes in Albany

Speed cameras are one step closer to becoming a reality as, on Saturday, June 22, the State Legislature approved a bill that would allow the installation of 20 of them within a quarter mile of schools with documented speeding issues throughout the city.

According to the bill, which was a response to a home rule message sent by the city which has expressed a desire to be able to install the cameras, motorists who speed between 10 and 30 miles above the speed limit will receive no more than a $50 ticket. Those who speed over 30 miles above the speed limit will be fined no more than $100 and default speeding penalties would be set at $25.

The cameras will work just like the red-light cameras already in place; they would not photograph the driver or share the license plate number of the car.

“Decreasing the number of drivers who speed is a proven life-saving measure – and this legislation, which will place speed cameras at 20 key locations throughout our city, will ensure that we continue to protect some of our most vulnerable New Yorkers,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.

Bloomberg pointed out that, “If a driver strikes a child at 40 miles per hour, there is a 70 percent chance the child will be killed. At 30 miles per hour, there is an 80 percent chance the child survives.”

According to the City Council, speed is a factor in one in four traffic deaths in New York City.

Although the locations of the cameras are not yet determined, it is likely that Brooklynites along the Fourth Avenue corridor will push for some to be installed there, as well. Numerous pedestrian fatalities and injuries have occurred in Bay Ridge, Sunset Park and Park Slope since the beginning of the year.

Stefania Vasquenz is a member of Bay Ridge Advocates for Keeping Everyone Safe (BRAKES) and the mother of young children. She praised the news.

“I think it’s a great idea for Bay Ridge because we don’t have the resources in the 68th Precinct to catch speeders,” she said. “This would be another way for us to keep our streets safer. I think it’s fantastic.”

Vasquenz pointed out that Community Board 10 had put the Fourth Avenue Redesign plan on hold, voting earlier this month to reconsider it in the fall. She said that at the final town hall meeting held on June 5, many residents who were against the plan said they were in favor of speed cameras.

Community Board 6 in Park Slope also voted against recommending the DOT’s plan for their stretch of the avenue, against the opinions of CB6’s Transportation Committee. Community Board 7 in Sunset Park approved the plan last year, and six-month data will be available in a few months.

“I would say most of the people there were in agreement that speed cameras would help the situation,” Vasquenz said. “It’s something that would keep everybody happy.”

Bob HuDock, who is the chair of Community Board 10’s Environmental Committee and the father of a six-year-old, concurred.

“It’s a great victory for the people who were fighting for pedestrian safety and the safety of our kids<” HuDock said of the legislation’s passage. “Most of us who are activists of this issue have kids in school.”

HuDock contended that even though the cameras are part of a “small pilot program,” he is “confident” that it will be successful.

“It will take time for people to get used to the idea. Sometimes people feel like we are being watched over by robots all the time. It can be disconcerting,” he explained. “But if they save lives…they may have more support than they have now. “

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