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Golden to support more speed cameras after years of opposition

Enough: Stefania Vasquenz, Jesse and Vanessa Aja-Sigman, Leila Mullarkey, and Maureen Landers demanded the city make streets safer for pedestrians at a rally in Bay Ridge.
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He went from camera shy to camera ready.

State Sen. Marty Golden (R–Bay Ridge) is reversing his longstanding opposition to installing speed cameras outside of city schools by supporting legislation that would double the number of cameras citywide, his chief of staff told a May 6 rally for safer streets in Bay Ridge.

“Sen. Golden is on board and has made the mayor’s office aware of his support for the legislation that will double the number of speed cameras, bringing it to 290,” said John Quaglione.

The bill, sponsored by Queens state Sen. Jose Peralta, would mandate the city install 50 new speed cameras per year for the next three years. It is currently in the Senate Cities Committee — chaired by rogue state Sen. Simca Felder (D–Midwood), who last year blocked the bill from reaching Gov. Cuomo’s desk. Provided Felder allows it to move forward this year, the bill would need to pass floor votes in both the Senate and Assembly before the governor could sign it into law.

Speed cameras photograph the license plates of speeders and automatically send the registered owners $50 tickets — regardless of the driver’s speed above the limit.

In 2013, Golden blocked legislation that would place up to 40 of the devices around select schools around the city, insisting that there wasn’t enough evidence of speed cameras’ effectiveness or accuracy, and saying the city should instead hire more traffic cops and install more traffic lights, speed bumps, and stop signs near schools.

Golden’s car has three moving violations since 2016, including two for speed camera violations, according to the Department of Finance.

But in a March interview with the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Golden said he was favorable to the idea of doubling the number of speed cameras, as long as they were only active during school hours, as they are under current state law.

Quaglione did not respond by press time to a follow-up inquiry about when Golden relayed his support for the bill to Hizzoner’s office or what made him change his mind.

Councilman Justin Brannan (D–Bay Ridge) wrote on Twitter the night of the rally that he was glad Golden signaled his support for the legislation after years of criticizing the cameras.

“I thank Senator Golden for finally seeing the light,” Brannan wrote. “Better late than never.”

Current law authorizes the cameras in 140 of the city’s more than 2,300 school zones, according to the Department of Transportation, which determined where to install the cameras by analyzing crash and speeding data, among other factors.

City data suggest that the cameras scared at least some drivers into slowing down. There were 60 percent fewer daily violations in school zones with speed cameras in the two years after they were first installed in 2014, according to a transportation agency report published last June.

Quaglione announced Golden’s reversal at the rally demanding more safety infrastructure at the 84th Street intersection where a driver struck a 10-year-old boy a week earlier. The boy was crossing the street at Fort Hamilton Parkway towards Fifth Avenue at around 4:50 pm on April 29 when the driver hit him. Emergency medical personnel transported him to Lutehran Hospital in Sunset Park, where he remained in critical condition for about a week before returning to his Ridge home, according to a GoFundMe page a family friend established. The driver remained at the scene, and was not arrested, according to police, but the investigation remains ongoing.

The intersection where the boy was hit — at 84th Street and Fort Hamilton Parkway — lacks traffic lights, a stop sign, or even a crosswalk. Parents at the rally said it was treacherous, and that the city needed to prioritize adding safety infrastructure to it.

“Obviously the crosswalk should be painted,” said Maureen Landers, the founder of street safety group Bay Ridge Advocates Keeping Everyone Safe. “The Department of Transportation should look at this intersection, among others.”

Reach reporter Julianne McShane at (718) 260–2523 or by e-mail at jmcshane@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @juliannemcshane.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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