GRAVESEND – With a program for speed cameras outside schools set to expire on July 25, Council Member Mark Treyger, along with Transportation Alternatives, Families for Safe Streets, and the Department of Education, are calling on state senators to renew it.
“One of the most paramount responsibilities of government is to keep families safe, especially our children,” Treyger said. “The only thing worse than failing to keep our families safe is to knowingly fail to keep them safe.”
“My community, their safety is being compromised and hijacked by a political high stakes game by a couple of rogue senators in Albany who preach about safety,” he continued.
In a fiery speech Thursday afternoon outside of Morris H. Weiss School (PS 215), Treyger, currently chair of the Committee of Education and former public school teacher, called on Senator Marty Golden to support the speed camera program.
“Senator Marty Golden knows that speed cameras reduce speeding and injuries near Cavallaro Junior High School in this area,” Treyger said. “The data is clear. Speed cameras near school save lives.”
Summer school started last Thursday, and there are currently speed cameras outside of just 80 schools that are open during the summer, which serve 200,000 students. Speed camera legislation was passed by the Assembly earlier this month and has the support of Mayor de Blasio and 33 co-sponsors in the State Senate.
Golden initially did support the program until a few weeks ago when he co-sponsored a bill that would end the speed camera program in six months and replace them with stop signs and traffic lights. State Senators Andrew Lanza and Simcha Felder also support the bill.
“Stop signs and traffic lights don’t represent a revolutionary idea. We have seen time and time again people routinely run through stop signs and people drive faster to beat the light,” Treyger said. “But what seems to be working is when people are going over 50 mph near a school and come home a couple of days later to a speeding ticket.”
Alison Collard de Beaufort is 17 years old and just graduated from Brooklyn Technical High School. She is the founder of the Vision Zero Youth Council in NYC. In a span of 15 months, she lost three of her friends to reckless drivers.
“Having gone through these kinds of experiences, I know if there were speed cameras, my friends could have been alive today,” she said. “In middle school and high school, going to funerals shouldn’t be a part of our lives.”
Hsi-Pei Liao, one of the founding members of Families for Safe Streets, his two kids, and his wife were holding a photo of their daughter, Allison Liao, a 3-year-old who was killed in 2013 when crossing the street with her grandmother.
“We have a problem where driving like a New Yorker can be considered a badge of honor,” he said. “Aggressive speeding, ignoring the pedestrian right of way, or using a vehicle recklessly in a way that injures or kills someone is a conscious choice.”
Jane Martin-Lavaud, who was at the vigil outside Golden’s office last week, was holding a framed photo of her daughter Leonora, who was killed five years ago to a reckless driver. There was also a brown hat placed over the school fence with her photo.
“Our lives were changed forever. A family of four became a family of three and we will never be the same,” Martin-Lavaud said with tears in her eyes. “This is an epidemic and it needs to be stopped. If speed cameras have been proven to work, I don’t know what we’re waiting for. If you don’t want tickets, slow down.”
The principal of P.S. 215, Antonella Bove, and Deputy Chancellor of NYC DOE Cheryl Watson-Harris were also in attendance and spoke about the safety of children being their first priority.
“That safety extends to when they come to school and walk onto school on the sidewalks and the streets,” Bove said. “Our children come first. They deserve a safe school and deserve a safe walk to and from school.”
Two days ago, a woman climbed the Statue of Liberty. Golden tweeted this, saying “… you do not have the right to endanger the safety of the public.”
The legislative and legal director at Transportation Alternatives Marco Conner had this to say: “I think it’s fitting to repeat the words of Senator Golden… when he said ‘you do not have the right to endanger the safety of the public.'”
“He should take those words with him wherever he goes, preferably to Albany very soon. He should repeat those words to himself the next time he or his driver get behind the wheel of his car.”