Brooklyn Heights

NOT SO FAST: State senate slams brake on speed cameras

March 28, 2013 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Protesters demonstrated on Fort Hamilton Parkway and 84th Street to demand action to make streets safer. A 10-year-old boy was struck and critically injured at the site. Eagle photo by John Alexander
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Councilman Stephen Levin’s effort to get the city to install more cameras on traffic lights to catch speed demons has hit a bump in the road. The State Senate refused to put funds toward it when the state budget was in the process of being finalized in Albany. The State Assembly had already dedicated funds to the goal of installing more cameras. But without senate support, the cameras won’t be installed. The city needs state legislation and state money to make the speed camera project a reality.

Levin (D-Brooklyn Heights) said he was disappointed at the senate’s inaction. “Speeding was the leading factor in fatal New York City crashes last year. We know speeding kills, and we know speed cameras save lives. Despite the devastation that speeding has caused families across New York, the State Senate still decided to prevent speed cameras from being installed here in New York City,” he said.

Levin wasn’t the only city official upset at the turn of events. Mayor Bloomberg offered a blistering attack on the state senate. In unusually strong language, the mayor singled out for blame state Sen. Marty Golden (R-C-Bay Ridge-southern Brooklyn) and state Sen. Simcha Felder (D-Midwood-Flatbush) for killing the speed camera bill. He also offered to give out the legislators’ phone numbers.  “Maybe you want to give those phone numbers to the parents of the child when a child is killed.  It would be useful so that the parents can know exactly who’s to blame,” the Times quoted Bloomberg as saying. 

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Assemblywoman Deborah Glick (D-Greenwich Village) and state Sen. Andrew Lanza (R-Staten Island) had introduced legislation that would fund a pilot program in New York City that would install 20 to 40 stationary or mobile speed cameras throughout the city.

Levin co-sponsored a resolution passed by the City Council to support program. He vowed to continue his fight. Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly have stated their support for the idea of having more speed cameras in the city to catch dangerous drivers.

“Because nothing is more important than ensuring the safety of all New Yorkers, I will continue to fight with Speaker Quinn, Commissioner Kelly, and leaders throughout New York City for measures that prevent future fatalities,” Levin said.

“Installing speed cameras will help protect pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists that depend on safe city streets. I hope leaders in Albany will join us by passing legislation this session to allow New York City to implement this life-saving program,” Levin said.

State Sen. Marty Golden (R-C-Bay Ridge-southern Brooklyn) said he’s steadfast in his opposition to speed cameras. Golden questioned whether the cameras increase safety as much as proponents claim. “Other   locations across the United States have found speed camera technology unreliable,” he said.

The website of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety lists 537 communities across the US that employ red light cameras or speed cameras.

Golden left a door open to the possibility to his supporting speed cameras in the future. “If we can prove that the technology is sound, and document unequivocally that it will reduce speeding and fatalities, that would provide a strong reason to consider the possibility of speed camera legislation,” he said.

There are other ways to increase pedestrian safety, according to Golden. “We need to reduce speeding around schools by setting up safety zones as well as increasing traffic lights, speed humps, stop signs and reduce the speed limits around schools to 20 miles per hour.  It is clear, however, that the most effective way to reduce speeding and speeding related fatalities is increased police and prosecution of reckless driving,” he said.


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