By Mark Hallum
After repeated calls for the state Senate to reconvene and pass legislation funding and expanding a speed camera program at schools, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order Monday to reinstate the safety measures discontinued in July.
Cuomo’s executive order stands as a rare compromise between the feuding governor and Mayor Bill de Blasio by granting the city the authority it needs to have the program up and running by the time schoolchildren are back from summer vacation.
“I refuse to sit idly by as Republican state senators put politics over the lives of our children and jeopardize public safety,” Cuomo said. “In the face of the Senate Republicans’ shameful inaction and with the school year set to begin, we are taking emergency action to reinstate the speed cameras program and protect our children… This is extraordinary action for an extraordinary situation, but I continue to call on the Senate Republicans to do their job and pass life-saving speed camera legislation once and for all.”
State Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) has pushed for the measure alongside civic organizations and Transportation Alternatives by asking for a special session to be called in Albany to vote on extending what started as a pilot program in 2013 and placed 140 cameras near schools along the most dangerous corridors and intersections in the city.
“It’s been proven over and over again that speed cameras are one of the most important and effective tools we have available to slow down drivers and keep our kids safe on our streets. That’s why I continue to call on the Senate to return to Albany so that we can pass legislation that I’ve introduced to expand the speed camera program and once again codify their use.”
State Assemblyman Mike Miller (D-Woodhaven) applauded Cuomo for reinstating the program.
“I commend Gov. Cuomo, Mayor de Blasio, and [City] Council Speaker Corey Johnson for turning the school zone speed cameras back on,” Miller said Monday. “The Assembly voted in favor to continue the speed camera program. It’s a shame how the Republican-run Senate could not do the same. Instead, the GOP majority put politics first and jeopardized the livelihood of New York City students. I hope moving forward the Senate will do better and work with the Assembly to pass legislation that will ensure the commute for all students to be a safe one.”
There were approximately 35 co-sponsors on the bill, which received unanimous support from the Democrats in the state Senate, but only three Republicans were on board.
The School Speed Camera program has lowered speeding by 63 percent and reduced pedestrian injuries by 23 percent in places where it was implemented, according to the city Department of Transportation, but the cameras went dark on July 25.
City Comptroller Scott Stringer claimed that since the program’s launch in 2016, 2.5 million drivers have been issued tickets from the program with only about 82,000 repeat offenders — a sign it is working, according to Peralta.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall