Brooklyn Boro

Speed camera advocates use public opinion to sway State Senate

July 11, 2018 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Deputy Schools Chancellor Cheryl Watson-Harris (at podium) was one of the speakers at a pro-camera rally outside P.S. 215 in Gravesend on July 5. Eagle photo by Paula Katinas
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Speed camera proponents have tried everything to convince the state Legislature to allow New York City to keep the picture-taking devices operating past the July 25 deadline when they are due to be turned off. Advocates have held vigils and protest demonstrations outside the office of influential Republican state Sen. Martin Golden in Bay Ridge. They have also protested outside P.S. 215 in Gravesend and held a press conference in the Narrows Senior Center in Bensonhurst.

Now transportation safety advocates have another weapon.

They are using public opinion polls in the hopes of swaying the Republican-controlled State Senate, which ended its legislative session last month, to return to Albany for an emergency session to vote on a speed camera bill. The Democratic-dominated state Assembly already passed a bill.

Transportation Alternatives, one of the groups leading the fight, is pointing to a new survey from Public Policy Polling which showed that 84 percent of New York voter support speed camera enforcement. The figure includes 77 percent of people who want the program expanded beyond the 140 cameras currently on city streets.

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Among Brooklyn voters who were surveyed, 93 percent thought the cameras should stay in place and that the program should be expanded. Another 76 percent support reconvening the senate for a speed camera vote and 54 percent of Republicans agree. Seventeen percent oppose the idea.

“There are few things that more than 75 percent of New Yorkers can agree on. Extending and expanding the city’s proven speed safety camera program is one of them,” Transportation Alternatives spokesman Joe Cutrufo said.

The cameras are located in 140 school zones around the city and take photos of the license plate of a speeding vehicle. The state then sends a summons in the mail to the vehicle’s owner.

The devices were put in place under a pilot program authorized by the state in 2013. But the program expires July 25. If no action is taken by the state senate, the cameras will be turned off.

The cameras act as a deterrent to speeding because they hit drivers where it hurts, in the wallet, according to transportation safety advocates, who said incidents of speeding have decreased by 63 percent in the areas that have cameras.

But concerns have been expressed by some who oppose expanding the program that the cameras are part of a money grab by the city which takes in the revenue from the speeding tickets paid by motorists.

The speed camera bill, which calls for the number of cameras on the streets to be increased from 140 to 290, has 33 co-sponsors in the state Senate, according to Transportation Alternatives.

“The Republicans in control of the Senate were elected to lead, but they missed their chance. Now they must follow the lead of voters. It’s an opportunity not only to do what’s right, but also to do something that’s quite popular,” Cutrufo said.

The speed camera bill is also supported by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio.


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