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DOT: 132,000 Drivers Sped Past NYC Schools With Impunity Since Cameras Shut Off

Amy Cohen, a founding member of Families for Safe Streets, at a rally to save speed cameras this past summer
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Amy Cohen, a founding member of Families for Safe Streets, at a rally last month Kevin Coughlin / Governor's Office

On July 25, New York City was forced to turn off its 140 school zone speed cameras because the State Senate failed to renew them. But the cameras haven't been completely dormant, they've just lost their ability to issue $50 tickets to drivers. According to a release from the City's Department of Transportation, "132,253 drivers have been observed through Friday, August 10th exceeding the speed limit by more than 10 miles per hour during school hours."

All summer, Mayor Bill de Blasio, Governor Andrew Cuomo, assembly members, and safe streets advocates have demanded the Republican-controlled State Senate to come back to Albany and pass a bill to reauthorize the cameras; 35 Senators, including Republicans like Marty Golden, say they support the measure, enough for it to pass.

The Republican leadership, which has a one-seat majority thanks to Brooklyn Democrat Simcha Felder, has at times blamed the corruption scandals that have engulfed members of the Cuomo administration, and Democrats' "unwillingness to engage senators with a larger vision for street safety to protect children."

The cameras have reduced speeding by 63 percent and pedestrian injuries by 23 percent.

“The Senate Republican Majority made clear its willingness to extend the program to ensure the cameras stay on," Candice Giove, a spokeswoman for the Republican majority, told Gothamist. "This fact is ignored by the Mayor, the Governor and the Assembly."

(A few weeks ago, Giove referred to City Councilmember Brad Lander as a "tragedy capitalist" for his advocacy work around speed cameras.)

A more plausible explanation for Republican intransigence may lie in the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, which opposes the cameras and has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to candidates and state party committees since 2015.

“This data confirms the obvious: this is a dumb, dumb, dumb fight over nothing, and it’s putting our kids at risk,” Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer said in a release. “I hope New Yorkers everywhere in the state hear about the Senate Republicans shutting off our school safety cameras and are outraged. Whether you live in Battery Park City, Bay Ridge, or Buffalo, children and traffic safety should always come before politics.”

New York City schools reopen on September 5.

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