July 13, 2018 By Tara Law
State Senator Jose Peralta is calling on his colleagues to convene for a special session in Albany to save the school speed camera program before its expiration on July 25.
Peralta’s bill to renew and expand the speed camera program currently has 34 co-sponsors, including the entire Democratic Conference, more than enough for the bill to pass. The bill has already been passed by the Assembly.
Peralta, at a press conference in East Elmhurst Thursday, urged Sen. Majority Leader John Flanagan, a Republican, to call a special session in order for the bill to be passed. He was critical of Senate Republicans for failing to get behind it.
If implemented, Peralta’s bill would extend the program, increase the number of street cameras from 140 to 290, and expand the hours when the cameras are operational. If the bill isn’t passed, the speed cameras will be shut down after July 25.
“We cannot play politics with schoolchildren and New Yorker’s lives, and this is why we must ensure we renew and expand the program,” Peralta said. “If the Republicans let this initiative expire, kids in summer school will travel to and from school on more dangerous streets. The same will occur when more than one million schoolchildren return to school after the summer vacation.”
Speed camera advocates argue that the program discourages cars from speeding near schools. There has been about a 63 percent decline in speeding violations in the camera areas since implementation of the program, according to report issued by the mayor’s office.
Attendees at the rally included representatives from advocacy group Transportation Alternatives, Families for Safe Streets and the loved ones of crash victims.
Lisa Rahman, who co-founded the group Families for Safe Streets, invoked the memory of her 22-year-old son, Asif Rahman, who was killed by a truck while riding a bike on Queens Boulevard in 2008.
“There is no excuse for allowing politics to get in the way of saving lives,” Rahman said. “My son, Asif, would still be alive today were it not for a reckless driver. I have prayed and fought to save other families from this loss. No one has a right to speed and put our lives at risk! Speed safety cameras save lives and I call upon the New York State Senate to reconvene and pass this bill now.”
Other attendees included the family of Giovanni Ampuero, a 9-year-old boy who was struck and killed by a vehicle at the intersection of 70th Street and Northern Boulevard in April.
There are five schools within an eight-block radius of the intersection of where Ampuero was killed.