NYC Students Tell Albany: Speed Cameras at #EverySchool Will Save Lives

“Not one more.” Street safety advocates and students join Assembly Member Deborah Glick in calling on Albany to allow speed cameras at every school in NYC. Photo: Brad Aaron
“Not one more.” Street safety advocates and students join Assembly Member Deborah Glick in calling on Albany to allow speed cameras at every school in NYC. Photo: Brad Aaron

Students from MS 51 in Brooklyn joined family and friends of people killed by New York City drivers in Albany today to ask state lawmakers to allow the city to install speed cameras outside every school.

Organized by Transportation Alternatives and Families for Safe Streets, about 140 New Yorkers met with legislators to drum up support for Assembly Bill 9861. Introduced by Lower Manhattan rep Deborah Glick, the bill would let any school have automated speed enforcement without restrictions on hours of camera operation. Glick’s bill, which only pertains to NYC, would also remove a sunset provision, now set for 2018, making the city’s speed camera program permanent.

State law currently limits NYC to deploying just 140 speed cameras, which can be used in school zones during school hours only, though most fatal crashes occur at night. Tickets are not issued unless a driver is exceeding the speed limit by 11 mph or more, and the penalty is $50 with no license or insurance points.

Speeding is down by 60 percent at camera locations, according to DOT, but the narrow scope of the program leaves the vast majority of NYC’s 6,000 miles of streets without enforcement. Streets that kids cross every day to get to school have no cameras to deter speeding.

Advocates and lawmakers who have signed on to Glick’s bill want to expand enforcement for the million-plus children who at any given time attend schools that don’t have cameras. Extending camera coverage to all NYC schools would save 100 lives and prevent 2,700 crashes and 1,400 serious injuries annually, according to TA.

“It is time that we protect all of our kids, not just some of our kids,” said Glick, who joined parents, children, and other volunteers, many wearing bright yellow #EverySchool t-shirts, on the capitol’s “Million Dollar Staircase” this morning.

Glick said the existing speed camera program “has shown its efficacy,” and called arguments against expanding it “thin and inaccurate.”

Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal, who represents the Upper West Side, said when constituents ask her why all city schools don’t have cameras, “I don’t have an answer for them. It’s ridiculous.”

Amy Cohen, whose 12-year-old son Sammy was killed by a speeding driver in Park Slope in 2013, said that a 5-year-old hit by a driver in the same location over a year later survived. By that time the city’s default speed limit had been lowered to 25 mph.

Forty students from MS 51, where Sammy went to school, made the trip to Albany today. MS 51 lost three students to reckless drivers in 14 months.

Cohen led the students and other advocates in a chant of “Not one more.”

Glick’s bill currently has 16 Assembly co-sponsors. There is not yet a companion bill in the State Senate.

Addressing the canard that speed cameras are a revenue scam, Glick noted that, as the city’s red light camera program has aged, it is generating less revenue because drivers are running fewer lights.

“We are modifying people’s behavior,” said Glick, “and that’s what we’re looking for.”