State Legislature approves 610 new speed cameras for city streets

The number of cameras catching reckless drivers in the act of dangerously speeding through school zones in New York City is about to increase by nearly five-fold now that the New York State Legislature has voted to approve a bill sponsored by southwest Brooklyn State Sen. Andrew Gounardes and Manhattan Assemblymember Deborah Glick.

Both houses of the State Legislature voted Tuesday in favor of the bill to beef up the number of speed cameras on city streets from the current total, 140, to 750.

The legislation also includes the following provisions:

  • Expands the hours the cameras operate. The devices will be working 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday through Friday.
  • Changes the definition of a school zone to include any street adjacent to a school building, entrance, or exit to a quarter-mile radial distance.
  • Requires signs to be installed notifying motorists of speeding photo enforcement.
  • Expands the city’s annual reporting requirements on the program to include effectiveness and adequacy of hours of operation as well as total expenditures spent on street safety and pedestrian improvements.

For Gounardes, a Democrat representing Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst and several other southwest Brooklyn neighborhoods, the passage of the speed camera bill was a major victory. He had campaigned heavily on the issue of street safety and the need for putting more speed cameras on the streets when he ran for State Senate in November of 2018.

“No parent, senior, or pedestrian of any age should live in fear of crossing the street because of speeding traffic. This program slows traffic and saves lives. Plain and simple,” the freshman lawmaker said in a statement. “The numbers are indisputable and speak for themselves: 63 percent reduction in speeding traffic and 14 percent in traffic injuries. We know that speed is determinant of the severity of an injury received in a crash. I’ll never apologize for prioritizing the safety of millions of pedestrians over the issuance of tickets to reckless drivers.”

The cameras serve as an important deterrent, according to Gounardes, who said 81 percent of drivers who receive tickets never get another.

Amy Cohen, founder of Families for Safe Streets, applauded the bill’s passage.

“We have been fighting for years to protect more New Yorkers from reckless drivers, so we’re pleased,” she said.

“Given the efficiency of the original 140-camera program, which we can say without reservation has saved lives and prevented injuries on our streets, we have no doubt that this expansion will lead to a safer walk to school for many more children in the five boroughs,” said Marco Conner, interim director of Transportation Alternatives. “This is a watershed moment for New York City that will lead to safer streets and neighborhoods during what is now the most dangerous times of day.”

Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers, predicted that students, teachers and parents will be safer and praised the legislature for passing the bill. “This is an example of what government can do when all the stakeholders — educators, parents, advocates, public officials — come together,” he said.

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