Lawmakers fail to renew city’s school zone speed camera program

Lawmakers fail to renew city’s school zone speed camera program
Lawmakers in Albany failed to expand and extend the city’s school-zone speed camera program before the legislative session ended June 20.
Photo by Albin Lohr-Jones/AP
By Carlotta Mohamed

Mayor Bill de Blasio said children will be in danger and lose their lives after Republican-led lawmakers in Albany failed to renew the city’s five-year-old School Zone Speed Camera program before the legislation session ended June 20.

”The state Assembly majority has shown the way with their expansion bill,” de Blasio said in a statement June 21. “Senate Republicans haven’t done their job until they pass the bill, which has majority support. Our families now need the governor to do all he can to aid its passage and sign it into law. The Senate must return next week to keep our children safe.”

State Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst), who sponsored the bill, said children will be in danger traveling to and from school come September.

“With complete indifference, Republicans just killed a program that saved the lives of countless schoolchildren,” Peralta said. “They failed our kids and they failed our society.”

The School Zone Speed Camera program, set to expire July 25, has reduced speeding by 63 percent and lowers pedestrian injuries by 23 percent at locations where they have been installed, according to the city Department of Transportation.

Only 7 percent of public schools in the five boroughs currently benefit from the life-saving technology.

Peralta had urged the passing of his bill to extend the city school zone speed camera program, which would require adding 150 monitoring devices to the current 140 speed safety cameras operating under a pilot program approved in 2013.

Peralta’s bill would have enabled 290 speed cameras to operate within a quarter mile from a designated school, beginning one hour before and running until one hour after a school day. The devices would also be operational during student activities and up to 30 minutes before and 30 minutes after the activities.

The proposal also called for the installation of warning signs within 300 feet of a monitoring device, and prohibits the installation of a camera within 300 feet of a highway exit ramp.

City Council Speaker Corey Johnson (D-Manhattan) said the New York state Senate failed the city by not extending and expanding speed cameras in school zones.

“Playing political games with the safety of children is completely unacceptable and I urge Republicans in the Senate to follow the Assembly’s lead and fix this before heading home for the year,” Johnson said. “We need to protect our children.”

Reach reporter Carlotta Mohamed by e-mail at cmoha[email protected]nglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4526.

More from Around New York