De Blasio promises ‘further action’ on speed cameras

Bill de Blasio. (Rob Bennett for the office of Mayor Bill de Blasio)
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Now that Mayor Bill de Blasio has achieved the most important aspects of his Albany agenda, he can turn his attention to speed cameras, he said today.

"Look, when you think about a legislative scorecard, our first priority was to get pre-K funded at the full amount for five years. Check," he said today at Citi Field, before throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at the Mets' opening day game. "We wanted to get a five-year plan for after school. Check. We wanted to get the HIV and AIDS rent cap done. Check. We wanted to get a program to prevent homelessness and start to reduce the number of homeless folks in shelters. Check. So the crucial items we went to Albany to achieve have been achieved."

"On the speed cameras, that is on the table," he went on. "And we’re going to go back to Albany for further discussions."

On Sunday, just days after the state legislature and governor rejected New York City's request for 160 speed cameras, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver introduced a bill that would allow the city 140 more of them. New York City is now allowed to use 20 speed cameras, and then only during limited hours and in limited locations.

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The Senate has yet to introduce a corollary piece of legislation, but de Blasio today said he was confident in the Silver bill's prospects.

"We feel very good about the fact that there’s a great deal of receptivity in, certainly with the governor and the legislature, to getting something done," he said. "It’s not fully figured out yet, but I’m convinced we’re going to get something substantial done there."

A reporter asked if the number of cameras contained in Silver's bill would suffice. Speed cameras are such an integral part of de Blasio's Vision Zero plan to dramatically reduce traffic deaths, that his action plan called for New York City to wrest home rule over traffic cameras from Albany.

One group of advocates today said that New York City needs 1,000 speed cameras, not the 160 that New York City would have should Silver's bill get passed.

De Blasio's answer to the reporter's question was nonspecific.

"I think with speed cameras it’s an ongoing effort, meaning we apply them and then we see where else we need them and we make adjustments accordingly," he said. "Look, we hope with Vision Zero strategies to reduce the speed of which people drive in general, and change behavior for the good. We think some of the enforcement efforts are already having a favorable impact. So if we do this right, all of these pieces come together to make the city safer for our children, for all pedestrians. And it adds up, so at a certain point, you may not need as many cameras as you originally thought you would. But right now, we are gratified that that number is on the table, and we look forward to achieving something important. I’m going to go on; this is your last segment of this question."