A State Senate bill to allow New York City to install more cameras on streets near schools to catch speeding drivers has won the support of a major holdout, State Senator Marty Golden, who announced that he is backing the legislation following a meeting he had with transportation safety advocates.
Golden, a Republican, is seeking to add his name to the list of co-sponsors of a bill sponsored by Queens Democratic State Senator Jose Peralta that would double the number of speed cameras in school zones from the current 145 to 290. Manhattan Assemblymember Deborah Glick is sponsoring similar legislation in the State Assembly.
Golden opposed the original version of the Peralta bill because it called for speed cameras to be placed at 700 locations around the city, according to Gerard Kassar, his chief of staff.
Golden’s support comes after Peralta and the bill’s supporters agreed to lower the number from 700 to 290, Kassar said. “At 700, you would have had so many cameras out there that it would have turned New York City into a giant speed trap,” Kassar said. Golden felt more comfortable with the 290 figure, he said.
On Monday, Golden met in his Bay Ridge district office with representatives from Transportation Alternatives and Stephen Hindy of the group Families for Safer Streets, to discuss the legislation. Hindy, a former Associated Press reporter and the co-founder of the Brooklyn Brewery, lost his son Sam Hindy, 27, in a traffic accident on the Brooklyn Bridge in 2007.
Getting Golden to sign onto the bill has been a longtime goal of Transportation Alternatives, according to Joe Cutrufo, a spokesperson for the organization.
“We’re thrilled that Senator Golden has signed on as a co-sponsor, and we’re optimistic that his strong support for this bipartisan legislation will make it clear in Albany that protecting children from reckless drivers is something everyone should be able to get behind,” Cutrufo said.
Kassar said Golden’s support virtually assures the bill’s passage. “There had been a lot of concern from senators outside the city who want to make sure the bill isn’t just a way to generate revenue and that it really is for safety purposes,” he said, adding that Golden’s backing could convince them.
Public pressure had been building on lawmakers to take action. Two weeks ago, dozens of people held a protest demonstration on Fort Hamilton Parkway and 84th Street, where a 10-year-old boy, Jobe Kan, was struck and critically injured by a driver last month.
If no legislative action is taken, the law that put 145 speed cameras on city streets will expire on July 1.
The state legislature adopted a law in 2013 that allowed speed cameras to be erected for a five-year study period. “The data from this demonstration program speaks for itself. The New York City Department of Transportation reports that there has been a 60 percent drop in speeding infractions in locations where speed safety cameras have been installed,” a section of the Peralta bill reads.
The Peralta bill contains other provisions, including a mandate that the city install signs warning approaching drivers of the presence of a speed camera. The signs would have to go up within 300 feet of a camera.
Also under the bill, the cameras must be installed within 1,320 feet of the entrance of a school building and cannot be erected within 300 feet of a highway entrance.
A vote on the bill has not yet been scheduled. If it passes both the Senate and Assembly and is signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo, the new law would expire on July 1, 2022.