Small Group of Senators Derail Coalition Push to Protect Children Who Walk to School

TransAlt Calls on Backroom Obstructionist Senators to Come Forward After Preventing Vote on Safety Bill

Statement of Caroline Samponaro, Deputy Director, Transportation Alternatives:

“Today, the New York State Senate failed to vote on a bill to increase the number of speed safety cameras permitted to operate in New York City, and summarily shut down a collective plea for safety and protection from thousands of parents, school children, and senior citizens; from a coalition of hundreds of schools, churches, mosques, and synagogues; and from the New York City Police Department, the New York City Council, and Mayor Bill de Blasio. 

Amid reports that a small number of senators derailed the passage of this simple safety bill, Transportation Alternatives calls upon these members of the Senate to come out from behind closed doors and explain their obstruction of this vote. Without the deterrence that this expanded camera program would have provided, thousands of New Yorkers will be seriously injured and scores killed in the coming year. This will be blood on these senators’ hands. 

The bill in question, S6046-B, was a modest expansion of an existing and notably effective technology -- speed safety cameras -- to an increased number of New York City school zones. Currently, the City of New York is only permitted by Albany legislators to operate cameras in 140 school zones, leaving more than 2,000 schools unprotected from speeding. S6046-B would have increased the number of cameras by 50 a year for the next three years, more than doubling the number of children protected by this life-saving technology. The State Assembly passed the companion bill handily, by a margin of 85 to 39, last week, leaving the door open for the Senate to push their legislation through. However, thanks to a small group of senators who obstructed the bill from coming to a vote, when students go back to school in September, they will remain in danger. 

In the past six months, Families for Safe Streets, a group of New Yorkers whose loved ones were killed by speeding drivers, has traveled from New York City to Albany seven times. Their message to senators was simple: Do not make any other family go through what we’ve been through. They begged and pleaded. They cited the incontrovertible research of the New York City Department of Transportation, which found that in locations where this technology is in operation, speeding is down 63%, and more importantly, there are 23% fewer crashes that injure pedestrians.They told the terrible stories of their lives torn asunder, and their loved ones lost, all because of speeding, and the fact that there were no cameras in place to deter the deadly behavior. Still, despite these pleas, behind closed doors, a small group of senators obstructed a vote on this bill. 

Transportation Alternatives and Families for Safe Streets thanks Senators Peralta, Klein, Alcantara, Bailey, Brooks, Comrie, Dilan, Hamilton, Hoylman, Kaminsky, Krueger, Latimer, Sanders, Savino, Serrano, and Squadron who fought admirably and diligently for this legislation. And Assembly Members Heastie, Glick, Aubry, Barron, Benedetto, Bichotte, Blake, Carroll, Cook, Cymbrowitz, D'Urso, De La Rosa, DenDekker, Dickens, Dinowitz, Galef, Gottfried, Harris, Hevesi, Hyndman, Jaffee, Kavanagh, Kim, Lentol, Mosley, Ortiz, Pellegrino, Pichardo, Quart, Rivera, Rodriguez, Rosenthal, Seawright, Sepulveda, Simon, Simotas, Thiele, Titus, Vanel, and Williams, who shepharded its passage in the New York State Assembly. Despite their efforts, and a diverse coalition of thousands, including the United Federation of Teachers, YMCA of Greater New York, AARP of New York, New York State Nurses Association, and trauma centers across the five boroughs, this bill was obstructed by senators who played politics with the lives and wellbeing of children in New York City.

These senators should show their faces and explain their actions; we will hold accountable those who obstructed this bill. One way or another, we will protect NYC school children from speeding drivers.”