De Blasio asks Cuomo for speed cameras too

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Traffic Cameras (AP Photo/Al Behrman, File)
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When Mayor Bill de Blasio released his Vision Zero plan to dramatically reduce traffic fatalities, he cited the urgent need for new speed and red-light cameras in New York City.

“These are essential components of a robust, sustained safety agenda,” read the plan.

They are also, like so many aspects of city governance, controlled by Albany, and when Albany doles out permission to install traffic enforcement cameras, it does so only sparingly.

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s budget amendments included speed cameras for 121 school zones, but in Long Island, not in New York City.

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New York City proceeded to ask for parity of some sort.

"[T]he City requested authorization for an additional 160 cameras (which would bring the total in NYC to 180)," emailed Marti Adams, a spokeswoman for de Blasio.

So far, the request has mostly been rebuffed.

The Senate included the Long Island speed cameras, as well as 160 additional speed cameras for New York City in its one-house budget. The Assembly included neither.

It’s not clear where the chips will fall in the ongoing budget negotiations. Spokesmen for the governor, the Assembly speaker, and the Senate governing coalition did not comment on the city's request.

"I think that the risk is they’re negotiating so many big-ticket items and there’s such pressure to get this done early that something like this could fall off, even though there’s really no policy reason or political reason it should fall off,” said Juan Martinez, general counsel for Transportation Alternatives, which has lobbied for the cameras in Albany.

Certainly, any effort to reduce traffic fatalities in New York City will require reducing the incidence of speeding, and speed cameras have proven effective, when implemented in abundance.

A 2012 Cochrane Collaboration analysis of existing speed camera studies reported that “All 28 studies found a lower number of crashes in the speed camera areas after implementation of the program.”

With state elections approaching, the clock is ticking.

"It’s hard to see a big item like this getting done later, because there’s going to be a lot of incentive on everyone’s part to avoid big ticket items as the election comes closer,” said Martinez.