March 19, 2013 By Christian Murray
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer is pushing for a new state law that would allow New York City to introduce up to 40 speed cameras in high-risk locations.
Van Bramer introduced a resolution before the city council late November, which has generated the support of Council Speaker Christine Quinn and other legislators in recent weeks following a number of high-profile crashes. Van Bramer hopes his resolution, Resolution 919, will pass this week.
However, for the city council to introduce the speed cameras, it is dependent on Albany to pass new legislation. Presently, there is momentum in the state legislature for the change since it has being championed by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and the majority of the assembly members from New York City.
A companion bill is expected to be introduced by State Senator Andrew Lanza, a Republican from Staten Island.
Fines would range between $25 and $100 and insurance companies would not be notice of the violations.
“If we can save the life of just one child by reducing the speed of vehicles in our city this … program will have served its purpose,” Van Bramer said. One in four traffic deaths are caused by speeding, he added.
Opponents of speed cameras argue that it is just a means for the city to raise revenue and is another instance of big brother.
Meanwhile, AAA released a statement to NY1 on Monday, saying, “The city is not doing red light cameras right so giving the authority to do speed cameras would be a huge mistake. There is no substitute for visible law enforcement.”
Van Bramer is also sponsoring legislation (Resolution 1677) this week that calls for the increase in the number of red light cameras in New York City.
The state currently authorizes the City to operate red light cameras at no more than 150 intersections. Van Bramer wants that number to increase. However, that resolution has not generated the level of support that the speed-camera resolution has to date.
Van Bramer said that at intersections where red light cameras have been installed there has been a 56% decline in serious injuries.
Van Bramer said the two resolutions are about saving lives and that he has been an advocate for reducing speed for some time.
He said he has been focused on reducing speed-related accidents since the death of an 11-year old girl, Hallie Geier, on his own street [46th Street] in Sunnyside in 2004.
“I was on the Community Board when we introduced speed bumps on 46th Street and have tried to do everything to prevent needless accidents since,” he said.
“We can’t prevent all fatalities but we can reduce them,” Van Bramer said. He said that he has been a long-time traffic safety advocate lobbying for speed bumps, stop signs and other traffic calming measures.
Van Bramer said these resolutions are not about the city generating revenue or collecting nuisance fines. “I have fought the Department of Health on the behalf of businesses who have been improperly ticketed…and on behalf of car owners who were unfairly ticketed.”