Nine days after the joint press rally between the NY League of Conservation Voters, Riders Alliance, and Transportation Alternatives, the City Council, Senate and Assembly have passed a bill to expand the operating time on city speed cameras to include nights and weekends for three years. This news comes on the heels of the “potential fourth straight year of increasing traffic fatalities in NYC- a first since 1990,” showing we need enhanced pedestrian safety measures now more than ever. At the rally more than thirty people stood up for the principle that New York City should be able to control how it deploys traffic cameras on its streets. Many attendees held signs and pictures of loved ones lost to traffic violence and shared heartbreaking stories of loss and grief caused by reckless driving. Speakers included state legislators, New York City Council members, DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez, and street safety advocates, all of whom criticized, pushed, and rallied in support of the bill.
Until this bill is signed into law by Governor Kathy Hochul, speed safety cameras will continue to be turned off on weekends and from 10 pm to 6 am on weekdays. This is the most dangerous time for pedestrians as “59 percent of all traffic fatalities occur when the cameras are not permitted to operate.”
Our city’s transportation network and streets still have many areas of improvement. Fines collected from cameras should be reinvested in street safety improvements in the communities where they operate. The Crash Victim Rights and Safety Act package, which includes a number of important street safety measures, has passed in parts – though more still needs to be done – and would work with the speed camera bill to save more lives.
The NYC Streets Master Plan aims to build out more protected bike lanes and bus lanes, invest in pedestrian safety, and increase infrastructure equity. NYLCV supports the plan because it would improve public and individual mobility options, allowing the city to stop being so car-dependent. In April, Mayor Eric Adams announced a historic investment of more than $900 million towards this plan, which “surpasses the city’s statutorily obligated commitment of $1.7 billion over 10 years”.
We are happy to hear the news of the speed camera bill passing, but know it won’t be the end of traffic violence in NYC. There is still more work to be done to keep pedestrians safe and our streets accessible.
We’re thankful for all the members of the State Legislature who voted for this bill, the members of the City Council who spoke out in support of the bill and voted for the home rule message to get it passed, and Transportation Alternatives, Families for Safe Streets, and everyone else who advocated for this bill to be passed.
By Athena Murray