By ARIEL HERNANDEZ
The Automated Speed Enforcement Program—which launched in 2013 and provided 140 city schools with speed cameras—expired last week, leaving the city’s elected officials, advocates, parents and school administrations fearful for children’s safety.
Since the program’s inception, speed cameras have led to a 17 percent drop in injuries and 60 percent decrease in speeding violations in the proximity of the cameras, according to a report released by the city’s Department of Transportation (DOT) earlier this month.
In the wake of the speed camera program’s expiration, Corona residents gathered last Thursday in front of PS 330Q to “mourn the deactivation of this life-saving program.”
“This program saved countless lives, and because of the lack of action from the Senate Republican majority to vote on my bill, school zone speed cameras will be turned off today,” said state Sen. José Peralta (D-Elmhurst). “This is senseless, illogical. This program has been tremendously successful. New York City kids will no longer be protected from reckless drivers when they travel to and from school. This is a sad day for our city, for our kids and for all New Yorkers. In September, more than one million children will return to school on more dangerous roads. This is unacceptable.”
Last Thursday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo tweeted to New York Senate Republicans to pass legislation to keep the speed cameras.
“And I will sign it within 15 minutes of them passing it—they have to pass the bill,” Cuomo said in a video posted to his Twitter account.
Since then, state Sen. Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-Smithtown) announced that he would back a plan to restore speed cameras in New York City school zones.
“Let me say publicly what I have been saying privately for weeks and what we said in Albany: The Senate Republican majority is willing to approve an extender of the existing New York City speed camera program,” said Flanagan. “During that time, we can work to enact a more comprehensive safety plan with all of the stakeholders involved.”
In the meantime, Councilman Mark Gjonaj (D-Bronx) introduced a bill earlier this week that would set an Oct. 31 deadline by which all city school buildings must have speed signs in place.
“I think it could be done effectively and done immediately,” said Gjonaj. “Right here, right now, we have an issue, problem and the solution is, ‘Let’s take out every tool that’s available to make sure our children are safe.’”
Reach Ariel Hernandez at (718) 357-7400 x 144, firstname.lastname@example.org or @reporter_ariel.