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Out of the picture: Time runs out on city’s school-zone speed cameras

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Call them camera shy.

All 140 of the city’s school-zone speed cameras stopped doling out tickets on July 25, after state senators failed to vote on a new authorization in time, and a Park Slope mother whose son was killed by a speeding driver knows exactly who she blames: state Sen. Marty Golden (R–Bay Ridge), who she said backtracked on a personal promise he made to her to get the bill passed.

“I hold Marty Golden personally responsible,” said Amy Cohen, co-founder of Families for Safe Streets, who held an overnight vigil outside Golden’s office on June 28, demanding the Ridge rep push state Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R–Long Island) to call a special session to vote on a new speed-camera bill before the deadline passed.

Now, Cohen said, both men will have blood on their hands.

“Children will die, and he and Sen. Flanagan and the Republican leadership will have that on their conscience and be responsible for those deaths,” the mom said.

Gov. Cuomo signed the original speed camera legislation into law in 2013 as part of a five-year pilot program which expired on July 25. Supporters of the speed cameras called on the state Senate to preserve and expand the program by passing a bipartisan bill that would double the number of speed cameras citywide over the next five years, but the upper chamber ended its session on June 20 without even voting on the legislation after state Sen. Simcha Felder (D–Midwood) — who caucuses with Senate Republicans — did not allow it to leave the Cities Committee, which he chairs.

Gov. Cuomo, Cohen, and other supporters of the cameras said that as the city’s most senior Republican state Senator, Golden — who historically flip-flopped on his position on the cameras — had the power to pressure Flanagan to reconvene the body before the July 25 deadline. Golden finally released a statement on July 11 calling on Flanagan to reconvene the Senate to vote to pass the bill, but only after he signed on to co-sponsor a separate bill that would mandate stop signs or traffic lights near school zones and only keep the cameras on for another six months.

Cuomo released a statement just a day before the cameras expired demanding that Golden take more direct action to get the bill passed.

“This is not an ideological issue — Sen. Golden and his conference are playing politics with the lives of children, and it’s transparent,” Cuomo said. “Here’s a tip for Sen. Golden — maybe he should hold a protest in front of Sen. Flanagan’s office and demand he bring his own conference back to Albany to vote for speed cameras on the merits, like they should have done in June.”

And a day later, when the cameras expired, Golden pushed the blame onto Cuomo in a press conference, calling on his constituents to sign a petition on his website demanding that Cuomo call both the state Senate and Assembly back to a special session.

“Gov. Cuomo owes it to all of us to call the legislature back, have us pass the bill, and sign it into law before someone is hurt, or God forbid, killed,” Golden said.

But Cuomo said it was pointless to call both houses back to session, since the Assembly already passed its version of the bill on June 18.

Flanagan and Felder did not respond to requests for comment.

Statistics prove that the cameras — which photograph drivers’ license plates and automatically issue $50 fines to speeders — do slow drivers down and improve safety. There were more than 60-percent fewer speeding violations in school zones with speed cameras in the two years after they were first installed in 2014, and a nearly 15-percent reduction in injuries in school zones with the cameras, according to a transportation agency report published last year. The city does not reveal the location of the current 140 cameras.

A spokesman for the mayor’s office said the city will still use the cameras to collect speed data, which it will compile and make available in a report in the coming weeks.

But Cohen said that now that the cameras won’t force speeding drivers to pay fines for driving too fast, she fears other parents will have to suffer the pain that she did when her 12-year-old son, Sammy Cohen Eckstein, was killed by a speeding driver near his Prospect Park West home.

“It is an unimaginable loss,” she said. “No one should have to bury their child.”

Reach reporter Julianne McShane at (718) 260–2523 or by e-mail at jmcshane@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @juliannemcshane.
Posted 12:00 am, July 26, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
Thankfully, there are still a few folks in government that cherish freedom. Simcha Felder for Governor!
July 26, 9:32 am
Midge from Mill Basin says:
Obviously Henry Ford celebrates every time a Jewish person is killed, especially by an automobile.
July 26, 10:54 am
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
And please with the what about the children screeching. Any idiot that speeds over speed bumps and in front of the cops will get what they deserve. When you want to install cameras that will ticket bikers blowing through red lights and stop signs, then we can talk.
July 26, 11:20 am
Mustache Pete from Windsor Terrace says:
Don't bother with Henry Ford. Like Tal Barzillai, he's a trollbot of a Brooklyn Paper editor's imagination.
July 26, 2:45 pm
AlmadeCubano from The Slope says:
Midge, considering it's that lowlife with a yarmulka Simcha and his circumcised buddy Marty who forced these cameras to be removed, it would be entirely appropriate if the children who will die because of their abject stupidity were Jewish.
July 26, 2:49 pm
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
I see the anti Semitic bigots are out in full force here.
July 26, 3:52 pm
Vision Zero from Zero Vision says:
Shut up, snowflake.
July 26, 6:29 pm
Jim from Cobble Hill says:
Traffic enforcement cameras should be all over NYC. No one has the "freedom" to break the law.
July 27, 4:53 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
First of all, I do take offense from Mustache Pete and what I said about me. Also, knowing that he does personal attacks makes him a zillion times the troll, because trolls are known for doing such on a regular basis, which is something I don't do. One other thing, I am a real person and was even interviewed by someone of this very paper, but with a name like Mustache Pete, that sounds more like some bot and if not, probably just some coward who hides behind his computer who is probably more afraid of me than I am of him. Getting back to the subject, I find that the priority of the speed cameras aren't about safety, they are about revenue just like congestion pricing. If people do obey the speed limit more, then no revenue can be made. More importantly, some of the areas the speed cameras are don't have any postings that they are there, which I feel was done on purpose so that motorists won't slow down in advance to avoid the fines. Seriously, if this was about safety, then have the police or crossing guards enforce the laws while the schools are in session as they do in my area rather than with some cameras. More importantly, driving ten over the speed limit used to be alright, but thanks to the anti-car fanatics, they make it a crime while making the roads even slower by lowering the speed limit that used by 30 mph to 25 mph even though they will claim it should be so slow that they can create congestion that will help them promote congestion pricing hence the Bloomberg Way.
July 28, 3:46 pm
Mustache Pete from Windsor Terrace says:
So Tal buddy, you're saying:
1) who cares about running people down
2) speed cameras are bad because they don't give speeders enough notice to slow down
3) they are bad because they bring revenue to a place where you don't live.

Got it. At least you didn't bring bikers into it.

Perhaps the meds must be working a little. And with your level of critical thinking, maybe you can go to work for Marty Golden's re-election campaign.

Hey, I am trying to be encouraging and find ways to get you out of Mom's basement!
July 30, 8:41 am

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