Cuomo Gets on Board With Speed Camera Expansion

The governor's support could break through the inertia in the State Senate, where speed camera expansion has enough votes to pass but is stalled in committee by Brooklyn's Simcha Felder.

Sofie An, 9, speaking out for speed cameras at today's rally. Photo: David Meyer
Sofie An, 9, speaking out for speed cameras at today's rally. Photo: David Meyer

NYC school kids rallied outside Governor Cuomo’s Manhattan office today for an expansion of the city’s speed camera program. Before the event got started, Cuomo happened to walk by and said he supports the bill to roughly double the number of speed cameras the city is permitted to operate.

The rally which was organized by Children United to Rein-in Breakneck Speeding (C.U.R.B.) and the Vision Zero Youth Council. With the Albany session approaching the home stretch and the speed cam bill tantalizingly close to passage, dozens of schoolchildren were there to ask Cuomo to put it over the top.

The Every School Speed Camera Act would expand the number of camera locations in the city from 140 to 290. The Assembly passed versions of the bill in 2017 and again during this year’s budget session, but in the State Senate it’s hung up in the Cities Committee, chaired by Brooklyn’s Simcha Felder.

Kids who’ve lost friends to traffic crashes implored the governor to put his political weight behind the speed camera expansion.

“We need to put safety cameras near every public school in our city. These cameras are used to make sure people slow down and follow the laws of safe driving,” said Sofie An, 9, whose P.S. 162 classmate Giovanni Ampuero was killed by a hit-and-run driver in a Northern Boulevard crosswalk earlier this year. “No family or anyone should ever have to suffer like this again.”

After Cuomo walked by, he sent his lead counsel, Alphonso David, and Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa to the rally to affirm his support for the speed camera bill.

“We think that this is incredible that these kids are getting involved in the political process,” David said. “This is an important issue, the governor supports it, and we want to make sure that Albany listens to them.”

With all of the Senate Democrats plus Republicans Marty Golden and Patty Ritchie (whose district borders Canada) sponsoring the bill, it has a majority in the chamber. But Felder hasn’t let it out of his committee, and Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan is loathe to override him, Politico reported this morning.

If Albany fails to pass the legislation, not only will the speed camera program not expand — it will expire in July and cease to exist.

Cuomo’s support could nudge Flanagan to muscle Felder aside and bring the bill to the floor for a vote.

“[The governor] knows that these streets are these kids’ streets and we want to make sure that they stay safe,” said DeRosa. “You’ve got our support, anything we can do.”