Much like a driver speeding through a yellow light, the New York City Council called an emergency meeting Thursday morning and passed a “home rule message” requesting that state legislators pass a bill that would expand the use of automated speed cameras in the five boroughs. That law would repeal time limits on when the speed cameras can operate, letting them catch fast drivers 24/7. Currently cameras don’t give out speeding tickets on weekends, or on weekdays between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. – the hours when most fatal car crashes happen. The City Council’s SLR 0006-2022 gives the state Legislature the go-ahead to pass S5602B/A10438, which also extends the speed camera program until July 1, 2025. It’s currently set to expire in a month.
Mayor Eric Adams’ Albany agenda has been marred by missteps, but this bill would represent a minor victory. Getting more control of speed cameras has been one of Adams’ top priorities this legislative session. But the language in the bill – which lawmakers are expected to pass ahead of the last day of the legislative session on June 2 – wouldn’t go as far as he’d hoped. The mayor wanted full control of the cameras, without authorization from the state government. And stricter provisions in the original bill, including higher fines on repeat offenders, were stripped out, in order to win the council’s approval. As Streetsblog NYC reported, many city lawmakers had concerns about speed cameras, and council leaders were addressing them up until the last minute.
The bill passed 43-7, with most of the opposition coming from conservative members such as Council Member David Carr, who said the speed camera program was “more about revenue than traffic or pedestrian safety.”
While the speed camera extension was the highest profile bill, the council voted on seven other state legislation resolutions Thursday to be sent to the state Capitol. In a shocking turn, one of them failed. SLR 0008-2020, which would support a pension sweetener that would incentivize New York City Police Department officers to stay on the job longer failed to get the necessary two-thirds majority, after many progressive members either voted against it or abstained from voting.