In a bid to reduce traffic and pedestrian deaths, Mayor Eric Adams is asking state lawmakers to give him more power in the placement of red-light and speed cameras across the city.
Although his request to make changes to criminal justice reforms has received plenty of attention, Mayor Adams’ push for more traffic enforcement autonomy has largely flown under the radar.
“If our streets aren’t safe, our city isn’t safe. Period," the mayor tweeted last week. "Home Rule allows the people who know our city best to have the tools to keep our streets safe for every New Yorker.“
What You Need To Know
- Among Mayor Adams’ many requests from Albany this year is the ability of New York City to govern its own speed and red light cameras
- The pilot program for speed cameras is set to expire this year
- Currently, Albany puts strict limitations on the city’s use of speed cameras and red light cameras.
Advocates say more needs to be done to prevent traffic fatalities.
“Last year was the deadliest year on our streets since the launch of Vision Zero,” said Danny Harris, executive director of the advocacy group Transportation Alternatives. “And this year we are already on page to have an even deadlier year. Traffic fatalities are up almost 60% from where we were this time last year. New York City is facing an epidemic of traffic violence across every corner of the city.”
Former Mayor Bill de Blasio initiated the “Vision Zero” program to reduce pedestrian accidents. And during his first year in office, Albany established the speed camera program which automatically tickets cars speeding in certain school zones.
That speed camera pilot program is up for renewal again this year. It’s currently limited to 2,000 cameras in 750 school zones around the city. And the cameras turn off entirely at night and on the weekends.
The red light camera program has been around for several decades, but remains limited to just one percent of city intersections.
Critics of the current program say it’s time for Albany to grant the city authority over these programs and the ability to set its own speed limits.
“It makes no sense that Albany should be dictating to New York City how they can enforce their traffic laws, what their speeds limits can be, where to install cameras and other enforcement options. It’s absurd,” said state senator Andrew Gounardes of Brooklyn.
.@NYCMayor is requesting that Albany grant NYC Home Rule to govern speed cameras, red light cameras, and set its own speed limits. @TransAlt and @agounardes are hoping to at least get it into the @NYSenate one house budget, expected to pass next week https://t.co/xtv1nhJsnp— Zack Fink (@ZackFinkNews) March 8, 2022
But in certain neighborhoods the cameras are very unpopular. Frank Morano, who chairs Community Board 3 on Staten Island, says his board received numerous complaints from drivers.
“People don’t like them. And I say this for a variety of reasons. One is it’s got nothing to do with safety. It has all to do with the city getting revenue," he said.
Gov. Kathy Hochul has also been supportive of home rule, according to advocates. They would like to see it get done as part of the budget due later this month, but it could also be done as stand-alone legislation outside of the budget process.