New law allowing expansion takes effect July 11
The new state law allowing the city to install speed cameras in as many as 750 school zones takes effect July 11 and the de Blasio administration is preparing for a massive expansion of the street safety program.
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Friday that the Department of Transportation will start installing new cameras at a rate of about 40 per month through the end of this year. The pace of installations will rapidly escalate in 2020, when 60 cameras will be installed per month.
The city is expected to reach the maximum of 750 school zones by June of 2020.
“Our streets are about to get a lot safer for our children. We fought to expand our speed camera program and we won in Albany. Now it’s time to rapidly scale up our program to save lives and keep our kids safe,” de Blasio said in a statement.
“With this law change, we will on July 11 double the number of hours cameras are operable — and in the months ahead, we will install new cameras at an unprecedented rate,” said DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg stated.
The expansion of the speed camera program fits in with the mayor’s Vision Zero initiative, according to Trottenberg. Launched by de Blasio in 2014, Vision Zero is a street safety program aimed at reducing the number of car crash fatalities.
The mayor also announced on Friday that a public awareness campaign is set to begin during the week of June 9 to warn drivers that the cameras are coming. The campaign will include bulk mailings, newspaper notices, online ads and LinkNYC displays. Also on June 9, DOT will begin a 30-day countdown on social media.
Once they’re up and running, the cameras will be operational from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. and will be working during the summer and during school vacation periods.
The new law also allows the city to extend the camera zones to a ¼ mile radius from a school.
A 2013 state law allowed the city to install 140 speed cameras. The law expired in 2018. State Sen. Andrew Gounardes and Assemblymember Deborah Glick sponsored legislation to renew the law until 2022 and expand the number of cameras. The legislation was approved in March. Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed it on May 12.
“Renewing and expanding speed cameras in school zones is a major victory in the fight for street safety,” said Gounardes, a Democrat representing Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights and several other neighborhoods in Southwest Brooklyn.
Amy Cohen, founding member of Families for Safe Streets, whose son Sammy Eckstein was struck by a car and killed in Brooklyn in 2013, said she is pleased to see the city’s action plan.
“We have been fighting for years to protect more New Yorkers from reckless driving, and we are happy to finally see this dramatic expansion of the life-saving speed safety camera program. This is for my son, Sammy, and for the countless others we have lost; and today is for the unknown thousands of families who will be spared senseless loss and heartache from reckless speeding in New York City,” Cohen said.
Speed cameras “quite literally save lives,” Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza said.