State Senate puts the brakes on speed cameras

April 4, 2013 Denise Romano
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A bill that would have funded a citywide speed camera pilot program has come to a screeching halt.

While the City Council, NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly, Transportation Alternatives, and the Tri-State Transportation Campaign supported the legislation, the bill was never voted on in Albany, with two State Senators from Brooklyn saying they would not vote for the bill: Marty Golden and Simcha Felder.

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Because the item was not included in the Senate’s budget, it never made it to the Assembly, despite the fact that Speaker Sheldon Silver had included it in his preliminary budget.

This issues of pedestrian safety and speeding hit close to home due to the proliferation of speeding on neighborhood streets.

On March 3, Nathan and Raizi Glauber were killed by a speeding driver — who was later arrested after a three-day manhunt — at the intersection of Kent Avenue and Wilson Street; their unborn baby son later died in the hospital.

On February 16, Matthew Garry, a Bay Ridge sophomore, broke both of his arms and legs and his pelvis when he was hit by a speeding car on Fourth Avenue and 78th Street. He luckily did not suffer any head trauma and is expected to recover after extensive rehabilitation and therapy. That vehicle did not stop and the case is still under police investigation.

Greenpointers also have concerns about speeding, which is particularly prevalent along McGuinness Boulevard — a mile-long, two-way, four-lane street “notorious for its speeding motorists and the injuries and deaths they cause,” as described by Assemblymember Joseph Lentol, who in 2012 introduced legislation to install and operate speed cameras along the boulevard.

However, DOT Brooklyn Borough Commissioner Joseph Palmieri agreed instead to relocated existing speed limit signs “for better visibility.” The speed limit on McGuinness Boulevard is 30mph.

According to a study released by Transportation Alternatives and the McGuinness Boulevard Working Group, who conducted a series of speed surveys, over 66% of cars speed on McGuinness Boulevard. They also found that from 2005-2009 there were 57 motor vehicle crashes involving bicyclists and pedestrians, which resulted in four deaths.

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

The stalled state legislation called for 20 to 40 stationary or mobile speed cameras to be installed citywide. The cameras would work much like the red-light cameras already in place; they would not photograph the driver or share the license plate number of the car.

Default penalties for speeding would be set at $25 with a maximum penalty of $50 for speeding between 10 and 30 miles above the speed limit and $100 for speeding over 30 miles above the speed limit.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn supports the cameras. “Speed cameras are a smart detriment that will reduce speeding and help save lives,” she contended.

However, opponents such as Golden insist that there is not enough money in the budget for speed cameras, the technology is flawed, and “30 other legislators” do not support the cameras, either. He instead advocates for reduced speed limits, flashing yellow lights, speed bumps, stop signs, traffic lights, crossing guards, and police officers.

But some residents feel that the option should be on the table.

Said Stefania Vasquenz, a Brooklyn mom and public safety advocate, “I don’t think a cop standing there with a [speed] gun is going to do anything.”

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