Petition demands speed cameras in school zones be turned back on

LOWER EAST SIDE, Manhattan -- Just over two weeks before school starts again, parents, students, teachers, advocates and city leaders came together here to highlight a way to demand that speed cameras be turned back on in school zones.

A petition for parents from New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer and the transit advocacy group Transportation Alternatives calls for the cameras to be reinstated.

The petition's rollout on Tuesday is one of a variety of recent actions taken by community groups and local elected officials to spur the state senate to take action.

Its leaders ended the legislative session in June without approving a vote on the extension of a program that put speed cameras in 140 school zones around New York City's five boroughs.

The legislature's lower house, the state assembly, approved the measure. However, it needs both houses of the legislature to go into effect. The petition calls on the state senate to convene in a special session before New York City public schools, the largest district in the country, go back into session September 5.

"It just makes sense," said Susie Behr, a parent, at a news conference at a playground here. "Who wouldn't do this?"

According to the Department of Transportation, the speed camera program, in its five years of being in effect so far, has reduced fatal crashes by 55 percent, and has reduced pedestrian Injuries by 23 percent, as well as cut down speeding by 63 percent.

"The one thing you do know," said New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer at the news conference to unveil the petition, "There's an idiot driver who thinks it's all about them, and not all about my kids. That's why we need the speed cameras."

Stringer said that he has two children, ages 6 and 4.

120 of the 140 cameras citywide have been turned off since last month due to the state senate's inaction. The additional 20 will have to be turned off before September 1, unless the state senate acts.

If it does not, Stringer warned, "The anger is gonna build until the following week [after schools reopen], when the election starts."

There is a primary election for New York state, including the state senate, on September 13.