Photo Courtesy of Benjamin Kanter/Mayoral Photography Office
City pols this week called on State senators to reconvene and pass the bill that would preserve the pilot program that features cameras around City schools.
By Michael V. Cusenza
This year’s legislative session was gaveled to an end early Thursday morning, likely signaling the termination of the school-zone speed camera program in the city.
The State Senate failed to renew the pilot program that put 140 cameras around City schools across the five boroughs. As of July 25, said recording devices, which raked in roughly $10 million per year in driver fines, will be shut off.
And many elected officials and advocates are not pleased.
“With complete indifference, Republicans just killed a program that saved the lives of countless schoolchildren. They failed our kids and they failed our society,” said Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst). “When children return to the classroom in September they will travel to and from school on more dangerous streets. It doesn’t make sense to get rid of a program that protects children. And what did they do? They eliminated it. They decided to play politics with children’s lives. I will keep on fighting tirelessly to ensure this program comes back, and it comes back bigger and better. I want to thank the advocates for all of their efforts, and to assure them that the war is not over until speed cameras are in place in 290 school zones throughout the city.”
Earlier this year, Peralta introduced a bill that would add 150 cameras to the 140 devices operating under the pilot program that was approved back in 2013.
Two GOP State senators last week proposed legislation, as part of the new #stop4students campaign, which would require the City to install stop signs and traffic lights—instead of cameras—in more than 1,000 school zones in the five boroughs.
“Playing political games with the lives of more than one million schoolchildren is intolerable. The Republican proposal to replace speed cameras with stop signs and lights is nothing but a massive distraction. The senators behind this political trick don’t fool me and they don’t fool any New Yorker,” Peralta said on Sunday. “The City’s school-zone speed camera program works and it has saved and continues to save lives. Let’s stop with these senseless calculated maneuvers, and extend and expand the program. If cameras go away on July 25, our students will travel to and from school on more unsafe streets. That is outrageous. How is it possible that we are debating the fate of a program that protects schoolchildren? The Republicans call their program #stop4students. I think it’s more like #thanks4nothing, because unlike speed cameras, street signs don’t change driving behavior.”
State Sen. Joe Addabbo, Jr. (D-Howard Beach) said the issue is not about political affiliation, but safety. And he has expressed his desire to return to Albany as soon as possible for an emergency session to hammer out a vote that at the very least preserves the 140 cameras currently in place.
“This is too important,” Addabbo added. “As a father of two, when I drop off my girls at school I want them to be as safe as possible.”