As traffic violence in the city increases, Department of Transportation Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez is calling on lawmakers in Albany to hand over control of the city’s red light and speed cameras.
The DOT head took to the site of the crash that killed a 21-year-old NYU student last week to punctuate the issue on Monday alongside Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine and Transportation Alternatives Executive Director Danny Harris. Rodriguez said giving control over the city would allow law enforcement to reduce traffic deaths.
The state currently allows the city to control the speed cameras that issue tickets in school zones, but they are not operational overnight and on weekends. Rodriguez said that left several hours of each day unchecked and unaccounted for, meaning no accountability for dangerous drivers.
“They should be running 24 hours, seven days a week and the DOT should be in power to decide where we install those cameras,” Rodriguez said. “It should be a data-driven decision.”
The group stood at the intersection of East Houston and 1st Avenue where, just last week, Raife Milligan died while crossing the street on May 2nd, when he was allegedly killed by a drunk driver, according to the NYPD. It’s been a particularly deadly period for cyclists and pedestrians, which in part spurred the city to roll out an ad campaign earlier this month discouraging dangerous driving.
Harris, whose advocacy group champions safer streets, said the transfer of oversight was urgent.
“Let me just start by being very clear to our legislators in Albany, which is that your inaction is killing us,” he said on Monday. “Give us the speed cameras."
State lawmakers told Gothamist that 273 people had been killed on city streets last year.
Rodriguez said he would be heading to Albany on Tuesday to lobby lawmakers to allow the city to expand its speed camera enforcement in the city.
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul has expressed support for local control of automated camera enforcement in the past.
“I personally don’t want to be deciding where red light cameras go in school zones, I think cities should worry about that,” Hochul said at a Regional Plan Association event last week. “We have enough to worry about.”
Mayor Eric Adams has also pushed for Albany to allow the city to control its own streets. He also announced earlier this year more than $900 million in funding to create new bus and bike lanes, and promised to redesign 1,000 intersections throughout the city.