Vincent Gentile: Speed Cams Must Be Part of the Enforcement Toolkit

This afternoon, the City Council is expected to vote on a resolution asking Albany to allow a speed camera demonstration program in New York City. With Council Speaker Christine Quinn backing the measure, there’s little doubt speed cams will pick up the council’s endorsement.

Council Member Vincent Gentile says speed cameras must be part of the street safety solution. Photo: City Council

In Albany, the Assembly has included the speed cam program in its budget, but the State Senate has not. State Senator Marty Golden, a Republican representing Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, and Bensonhurst, appears to be the one legislator standing in the way of NYC’s first automated speeding enforcement program. Along with the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association — the city’s largest police union — Golden is opposing speed cameras on the grounds that only cops should enforce the speed limit, even though NYPD shows little inclination to devote manpower to the task.

Other Bay Ridge representatives don’t see speed cameras and conventional enforcement as an either/or proposition. Vincent Gentile, whose City Council district overlaps with much of Golden’s Senate district, told Streetsblog that the city needs both.

Here’s the statement on speeding enforcement from his office:

There is no substitute for more police and patrols. That said, we must not allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good. While speeding cameras may not be a panacea, they have been proven to reduce speeding. And right now there are simply too many drivers speeding and not enough enforcement resources. In addition to the speeding cameras, I am calling upon the Mayor of the City of New York and the New York City Police Department, via an official resolution, to immediately hire and deploy a minimum of 200 more police officers citywide solely for speed enforcement and reckless driving deterrence. Whether it’s speed cameras, education programs, more cops or more enforcement — there is no single silver bullet but something has to be done. Nothing can be left off the table when lives are at stake. I will continue to work closely with the Department of Transportation towards making our streets a safe place where pedestrians, cyclists and motorists can all co-exist safely, peacefully and responsibly.

“We need an all-encompassing approach,” said Gentile spokesperson Justin Brannan, noting that camera enforcement can help support traffic calming projects like the one underway on Fourth Avenue at a time when there are insufficient enforcement resources.

This issue has some added political intrigue: John Quaglione, Golden’s deputy chief of staff, is running against Gentile in November.