Speed Cams Eliminated From State Budget But Resurface in Shelly Silver Bill

After Governor Cuomo proposed allowing speed cameras on Long Island and the State Senate recommended expanding New York City’s small, 20-camera program by 160 cameras, the final state budget agreement reached late Friday night included neither. But a bill from Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver would make up for much of what was lost in budget negotiations, bringing speed cams to Long Island and expanding NYC’s automated speed enforcement program by 120 cameras.

Speaker Sheldon Silver. Photo: Wikipedia
Speaker Sheldon Silver. Photo: Wikipedia

Silver’s bill, referred to the Assembly transportation committee yesterday, would allow Nassau and Suffolk Counties to install one speed camera for each of Long Island’s 125 school districts, and would expand NYC’s program to 140 cameras. The city, using only five of its 20 allotted cameras, has issued more than 11,715 camera tickets to speeding drivers since the program began in mid-January.

While the Assembly legislation would significantly expand automated speed enforcement in NYC, it does not remove the geographic and time-of-day restrictions that prevent the city from deploying the cameras where and when they are needed.

Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero action plan calls for home rule over speed cameras — which would give the city freedom to use cameras as it sees fit. City Hall also asked for the NYC camera expansion in the Senate budget. We have a request in with the mayor’s office about what it would like to see in this latest legislation.

One possible reason for the quick legislative push in the Assembly: Nassau County had been relying on speed camera revenue projections in its budget, though Suffolk County did not include the cameras in its budget plans. According to Capital New York, “a dispute about the Nassau County cameras led leaders to remove all the cameras from the budget deal.”

With Silver sponsoring this bill, it’s a lock to pass the Assembly. The question is whether it will also find a champion in the State Senate majority. Senate Co-Leader Jeff Klein led the push to create NYC’s school zone speed cam program after Senator Marty Golden stymied automated speed enforcement in last year’s budget.

In the meantime, advocates called for swift action on speed cams. Advocacy group Right of Way released a statement with families of New Yorkers who lost their lives to traffic violence.

“While our politicians dicker, New Yorkers are needlessly dying on our streets,” said Amy Cohen, who helped found Families for Safe Streets after her 12-year-old son Sammy was killed on Prospect Park West. “The safety of our children, and of all New Yorkers, cannot be subject to political horse trading.”

“We beg you,” said Barron Lerner, whose nephew Cooper Stock was killed in an Upper West Side crosswalk by a turning cab driver who failed to yield. “Please do not let politics, bureaucracy and interest group squabbling prevent meaningful reform.”