He finally made the call.
Bay Ridge state Sen. Marty Golden bowed to weeks of protests from constituents demanding he save speed cameras on Wednesday, when he called on Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R–Long Island) on July 11 to reconvene the state Senate to vote on a speed-camera bill that would double the number of cameras citywide before the current cameras switch off on July 25.
Golden’s spokesman said that the pol strongly supports both preserving and expanding the cameras, and that failure to do so would be “unacceptable.”
“Sen. Golden recognizes the importance of the life-saving speed-camera program and what it has done to save lives and slow down traffic,” said John Quaglione. “Sen. Golden believes that anything short of a vote by the Senate before July 25, to support the continuation and expansion of speed cameras throughout New York City, would be an unacceptable failure for the people of New York.”
Golden’s move comes after weeks of protests by locals who called on Senate Republicans — and Golden in particular — to return to Albany for a vote on the bill. State Sen. Simcha Felder (D–Midwood) blocked it from exiting the Cities Committee, which he chairs, to go to the floor for a vote before the session ended on June 20. Only Flanagan and Gov. Cuomo have the power to re-convene the state Senate for the vote.
A Park Slope mom who held a 24-hour vigil in memory of her son outside Golden’s district office days after he returned from Albany last month said she was disappointed that it took such a long time for the pol to take action, but that it was better late than never.
“It is really a shame that it takes the level of effort that we have put in to make the Senate do the right thing, but we’re hopeful that they will reconvene in time — and we will not stop until they do,” said Amy Cohen, whose 12-year-old son Samuel Cohen Eckstein was hit and killed by a reckless driver near his Prospect Park West home in 2013.
The bill would double the number of current speed cameras to 290 — which would cover just under 13 percent of school zones citywide — over the next four years.
But he then appeared to backtrack on his flip-flop when he began pushing a different bill that would mandate the installation of stop signs or traffic lights in more than 1,000 of the city’s more than 2,300 school zones, and double fines for drivers caught speeding near schools, but would only allow the 140 current speed cameras to stay in place for another six months. The city does not reveal the locations of the cameras.
City data suggests 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 Department report published last June.
But they haven’t always scared Golden — the Bay Ridge pol has paid out more than $870 for 12 violations — six of which were for speed cameras — over the past two years, and received his latest speed-camera ticket on May 10, just four days after his spokesman announced his support for the bill.
A Gravesend mother whose daughter was hit and killed by a speeding driver in 2013 said that Golden’s call for the Senate to reconvene was a good start, but that she wouldn’t be satisfied until there was a speed camera at every school in the city.
“We need to get this bill passed and expand it,” said Jane Martin-Lavaud, whose 24-year-old daughter Leonora died in a crash at E. Fifth Street and Avenue U in 2013. “We need them in front of all school zones — we need to protect children, seniors, the entire community. For me, it’s too little, too late, but the point is to protect others in the future.”
Flanagan did not immediately respond to a request for comment.