By ARIEL HERNANDEZ
It has been three weeks since a speed camera program for city schools expired, and Queens’ elected officials continue to push Senate Republicans to reconvene and vote to bring the program back.
State Sen. Jose Peralta (D-Elmhurst), Transportation Alternatives and Families for Safe Streets gathered in Corona on Monday to emphasize the need for the program with the beginning of the 2018-2019 academic year just weeks away.
The five-year pilot program—which decreased speeding violations by 63 percent, according to city studies—provided 140 cameras at schools within the city’s most-dangerous intersections and corridors. All of the cameras are currently inactive.
“Speed cameras save lives,” said Raul Ampuero, a member of Families for Safe Streets. “What more is necessary to know? A state Senate vote to save lives should be the most simple thing to do.”
Ampuero is the father of Giovanni Ampuero, a 9-year-old boy who died in a hit-and-run while crossing Northern Boulevard with his mother in May.
“It is just one day of travel to Albany, one vote to cast, and you will save lives and help prevent the terrible pain of losing a loved one, like I lost my son, Giovanni,” said Ampuero. “This is about our children and our families—the most precious in our lives. Yet, for some reason, it is beyond comprehension, the Republican State Senate leaders have refused to even vote on this. This is inexcusable. They need to do their job and make sure they pass the speed camera bill before kids return to school in September.”
According to Peralta, there are currently 35 co-sponsors of his bill, which would bring back the speed cameras and expand the program to reach nearly 300 school zones.
“We have to stop playing politics with our children’s lives,” said Peralta. “Who are the grownups here? Sadly, Republican leadership refuses to reconvene the Senate to reinstate and expand the life-saving school zone speed camera program. We have three weeks until more than one million children return to school in New York City. Let’s return to Albany, right this wrong and ensure our kids are protected when they go back to school.”
Last week, state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) rallied alongside Transportation Alternatives and Families for Safe Streets to call on the Republicans to vote on the speed camera bill, the last step required before the bill will go to Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign.“These speed cameras save lives,” said Avella. “Every day they are not in operation, lives—especially those of children—are at risk. I am ready to go back to Albany and vote on this legislation now. I’m calling on Sen. [Majority Leader] John Flanagan and the Republican majority to reconvene for a day and pass this life-saving legislation.”
Reach Ariel Hernandez at (718) 357-7400, ext. 144, firstname.lastname@example.org or @reporter_ariel.