Mothers Who Lost Kids Call on Albany to Allow Speed Cams at Every School

Public Advocate Letitia James spoke alongside members of Families for Safe Streets at city hall this morning. Photo: David Meyer
Public Advocate Letitia James spoke alongside members of Families for Safe Streets at City Hall this morning. Photo: David Meyer

This morning, six mothers who lost their children to traffic violence — Amy Cohen, Ellen Foote, Judy Kottick, Dana Lerner, Lizi Rahman, and Sofia Russo — spoke on the steps of City Hall, calling on Albany to expand automated speed enforcement in New York City.

Families for Safe Streets and Transportation Alternatives will go to the state capitol tomorrow to build support for Assembly Member Deborah Glick’s bill to expand the city’s speed camera program.

Current state law limits NYC’s speed cameras to 140 locations. The cameras must be placed within a quarter mile of a school on a street that directly abuts it. Moreover, enforcement is limited to school hours, providing no deterrent during the night, when fatal crashes are more likely.

Glick’s bill would address those flaws by removing the limit on the number of schools where cameras can be sited, allowing them to operate 24/7, and making the program permanent. (It is currently set to expire in 2018.)

“We have an epidemic of drivers that are not slowing down, and children are being killed,” said Lerner, whose 9-year-old son Cooper Stock was struck and killed by a cab driver who violated his right-of-way in a crosswalk at West End Avenue and 97th Street.

Image: Transportation Alternatives
Image: Transportation Alternatives

Since Albany first gave the city permission to use speed cameras in 2013, speeding has fallen by 60 percent at the locations where cameras have been installed, according to DOT. But only seven percent of city schools currently have them.

“Vehicular speeding is killing more New Yorkers than texting and drunk driving combined,” said Transportation Alternatives Executive Director Paul Steely White. “Vision Zero is of course many things, but we know that the camera enforcement program is one of the most effective [tools].”

In addition to Glick’s legislation, State Senator Jose Peralta has two similar bills, one that would allow cameras at every school and another that would allow the cameras to run at all hours. Transportation Alternatives Legislative Director Marco Conner said Glick’s bill would accomplish both of those goals and also ensure the program remains in place indefinitely.

White told reporters that a key focus of tomorrow’s advocacy efforts will be to win over the support of State Senator Jeff Klein, the powerful chair of the Independent Democratic Conference who played an instrumental role in passing previous speed camera legislation.

Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, who is introducing a resolution in the City Council in support of Gick’s bill, said he has no sympathy for the constituents who call his office upset over a speed camera fine.

“I have had constituents complain to me that they got tickets because they were speeding outside of a school,” he said. “They should get tickets if they’re speeding anywhere in the city of New York, but particularly in front [of] or near a school.”