Albany Unlikely to OK Speed Cameras This Year

The state legislature will not allow New York City to enforce its speed limit using automated cameras this session, say street safety advocates. Though the New York Times touted the legislation’s forward momentum in an article yesterday, the bill is unlikely to pass the Assembly before the legislative session closes this week.

“For all intents and purposes, we’re looking at next year,” said Transportation Alternatives general counsel Juan Martinez.

Speed cameras made significant progress in Albany this year. Staten Island Republican Andrew Lanza signed on as the Senate sponsor of the legislation, giving advocates new confidence in its ability to pass that chamber. “Senator Lanza promised that it would pass the Senate this week,” said Martinez. “I think that would be a huge boost.”

In the Assembly, however, safety supporters were unable to recruit enough individual legislators to overcome the consistent opposition of Transportation Committee Chair David Gantt to the use of cameras to enforce traffic rules (or to force Speaker Sheldon Silver’s hand).

Martinez felt optimistic about the bill’s future chances in Albany, though. “They understand speeding is a problem,” he said. “They all get dozens of requests a week for speed bumps and stop signs. They just have to make the connection that predictable enforcement is the only way to solve this citywide.” He pointed to strong support for speed camera enforcement from more car-dependent parts of the city, like Staten Island, as evidence that the idea has broad-based support.

Martinez also guessed that pending legislation to increase penalties for dangerous driving — such as bills to eliminate an incentive for drunk drivers to flee the scene of a crash or to create a three-strikes policy to rescind driver’s licenses — would not pass this year.