Light fight! Activists blast Golden over traffic cameras

Light fight! Activists blast Golden over traffic cameras
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

These Ridge residents want state Sen. Marty Golden to smile for the cameras.

Over 20 Bay Ridge residents rallied outside Golden’s Fifth Avenue office on April 5 to protest the pol’s opposition to a pilot program that would install 40 speed cameras — which photograph the license plates of speeders and automatically send them tickets — at select intersections around the city.

The protestors were members of a pro-traffic-control group called Bay Ridge Advocates for Keeping Everybody Safe, and argued that the camera’s would cure the epidemic of car-pedestrian collisions plaguing the neighborhoodwhich has killed one woman and hospitalized another in the past month.

“We are not only tired of dodging reckless drivers — we are angry that our quality of life is impacted by the bad behavior of others,” said Barbara Cassidy, one of the speakers at the demonstration. “Reckless driving is a crime and it must be treated as such.”

But Golden’s office argued that speed cameras can’t be trusted. Aide Ray Riley pointed to a recent incident in Baltimore, Md. where one of the devices fined a stationary vehicle, and a case in Ohio where a judge banned them in a small town after they issued thousands of frivolous tickets — though he said he knew of no scientific study of the cameras’ accuracy. Golden said he wouldn’t even think about supporting the devices in New York City unless he saw conclusive evidence of their effectiveness and precision.

“If we can prove that the technology is sound, and document unequivocally that it will reduce speeding and fatalities, that would provide reason to consider the possibility of speed camera legislation,” said Golden.

But the pol said he agreed traffic safety is a problem, and repeated his call for the city to hire more cops to combat traffic violations. He also promised to propose a new law that would reduce the speed limit to 20 miles an hour and install new traffic lights, speed bumps, and stop signs near New York City schools.

Cassidy rejected Golden’s argument for more police, saying that new cops cost too much money and don’t stop speeders.

“We would welcome law enforcement to curb speeding. It doesn’t exist now,” Cassidy said. “But where does he plan to get money for more officers?”

Golden is a former police officer, and has long received endorsements and campaign contributions from the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association — the union representing uniformed officers — which has come out against speed cameras.

But the pilot program Golden has opposed in the State Senate would only bring cameras to a handful of areas near schools. None of the recent accidents in Bay Ridge occurred in school zones, and police said there was no evidence of speeding in the collision that killed a woman crossing mid-block near the corner of 86th Street and Fourth Avenue on April 2.

“It looks like it was just an accident,” the spokeswoman said.

Bay Ridge Advocates for Keeping Everybody Safe also supports another controversial anti-speeding plan — the city’s “re-envisioning” of Fourth Avenue, which would pare the thoroughfare down to one lane in each direction between 84th Street and Ovington Avenue, and raise a concrete pedestrian island on the south side of the 86th Street and Fourth Avenue intersection.

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-4507. Follow him at twitter.com/WillBredderman.

Sign of the times: Ridge father Dave Ebert was one of the speakers at the Friday afternoon rally.
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

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