Speed-gun demo highlights NYC back-to-school safety concerns

BROWNSVILLE, Brooklyn — The first day of school in New York city is in exactly two weeks, but as of Wednesday there will be a noticeable absence at schools around the city: the 140 speed cameras that have reduced speeding by more than 60 percent and fatal crashes by 55 percent, city officials said.

Pedestrian safety activists, including Councilwoman Alicka Ampry-Samuel, stood at the intersection of Howard and East New York avenues on Wednesday with speed guns in hand.

They were making the point that the 25 mph speed limit put in place because of nearby schools is being ignored even more than usual with the city’s speed cameras turned off.

“The kids will go back to school in two weeks and they should not have to navigate this intersection without some sort of protection,” said Dulcie Canton, transportation safety activist.

The speed-gunners blame the Republican-led State Senate for letting the program expire.

However, Senate Republicans have said Democrats and local lawmakers have refused to consider non-camera speed control options. For example, the intersection in question on Wednesday is an awkward meeting of three streets, including Pitkin Avenue.

Ampry-Samuel admitted that some of her concerns could and should be addressed by the city's Department of Transportation.

“We need to talk to the DOT about plans for this particular intersection,” she said, but added that the most immediate fix is out of the city’s hands.

"Our senators need to go back to Albany and vote on, and pass, the legislation for the speed cameras. Do the right thing on behalf of our children of New York City.”