What a Difference an Election Makes! Legislature Passes Major Speed-Camera Expansion

Yesterday, the New York State Senate and Assembly passed companion bills authorizing New York City to expand its school-zone speed-camera enforcement program to 750 cameras citywide, a roughly fivefold increase in the current program that will, according to city officials, allow them to cover virtually every school in New York City. Governor Cuomo is expected to sign the legislation into law shortly.

We made the trip up to Albany for the press conference prior to the votes yesterday at the invitation of State Senator Andrew Gounardes, who sponsored the Senate version of the bill. Last fall, we endorsed Gounardes in his race to unseat incumbent Senator Marty Golden, who had long been an obstacle to expansion of the speed-camera program. Thanks to your support, we were able to donate generously to Gounardes's campaign, and deploy some six dozen volunteers to help canvass voters in the 22nd State Senate district, who knocked on approximately 5,000 doors in a race that was decided by about 1,000 votes.

According to data collected by the New York City Department of Transportation, the city's speed-camera program, from its inception through the end of 2017, reduced school-zone speeding by 63% when cameras were in operation, and resulted in a 17% decline in injuries. Through 2016, fatalities in school zones with cameras dropped by more than half, from 18 to 8. More than 80% of vehicle owners who receive a school-zone speeding ticket wake up and don't get another. This major expansion of the speed-camera program has the potential to prevent many more unnecessary deaths.

In addition to the critical role Senator Gounardes played in passing this life-saving legislation, we want to recognize Assemblymember Deborah Glick, the primary sponsor of the Assembly version of the bill, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, who brought the bills to their respective floors and supported their passage, and the many StreetsPAC-endorsed members of the Senate and Assembly who were co-sponsors and ardent backers of the bills.

We also want to salute the incredible members of Families for Safe Streets and their partners at Transportation Alternatives, who worked tirelessly to make the case for expansion of the speed-camera program. Amy Cohen spoke eloquently at yesterday's press conference about her son Sammy, who was killed by a van driver in 2013, and read the names of the nearly three dozen New Yorkers who've already died from traffic violence this year. Preston Liao, who lost his three-year-old sister Allison just days before Sammy was killed, was recognized by Gounardes at the podium for inspiring him to action with his "change saw" (pictured below).

Finally, the passage of this important, life-saving legislation is a reminder of how much local elections matter. Marty Golden and the then-Republican-controlled State Senate allowed the city's meager speed-camera program to lapse last year, for political reasons that are unfathomable. Helping to elect leaders like Andrew Gounardes and the other Senators and Assemblymembers whom we endorsed in 2018, who prioritize the safety of our streets and the efficacy of our public transit system, is something we can only do with your financial and volunteer support.

Will you please consider donating today to help us continue our critical work in 2019 and beyond? It only takes a minute to give right now by clicking here. Thank you.

Photo: Joseph Spector/Gannett


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StreetsPAC supports candidates for public office who will champion Safe, Complete and Livable Streets.