In a news conference last week, New York City Mayor Eric Adams called for New York’s state government to pass a suite of legislation designed to mitigate rising traffic violence in the city. Joined by city officials, lawmakers from all levels of government, and transit safety activists, he renewed demands for state legislators to give New York City “home rule” over traffic enforcement mechanisms currently under state purview: namely, the authority to establish speed limits and operate automated speed enforcement cameras 24/7. “My job is to prevent New Yorkers from dying in our streets, and I need Albany to give me the tools to do my job,” he said, according to a press release issued by the city. “I want New Yorkers to hold me accountable for my decisions and my results, and that means I need home rule control over our speed cameras and red-light cameras. This is about keeping New Yorkers safe.”
During the news conference, Adams reiterated his administration’s support for a package of bills that would give the city power over several key areas of traffic enforcement. One bill would eliminate the limits on the city’s ability to speed cameras—almost 2,000 of them—in 750 school zones, empowering the city to increase the cameras’ hours of operation. Another would allow the city to install more red light cameras, and raise fines for motorists who repeatedly drive through red lights. A third would expand the city’s bus lane enforcement authority, allowing it to enforce “violations that impede operations on bus routes with no bus lane.” A fourth bill, known as “Sammy’s Law,” would give city leaders the power to raise speed limits on some city streets.
In a statement about the legislation package, Department of Transportation Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez said: “Speed cameras save lives, as do lower speed limits. Unfortunately, as a former councilmember, I know too well that New York City is not always able to control our destiny around public safety, which means that some critical life-saving changes to our streets happen too slowly. New York City has been a model for Vision Zero cities across the country, so based on our proven success, I am joining the mayor in calling on the state to give the city the authority to manage traffic safety — including all our automated enforcement programs.”
State Senator Andrew Gounardes echoed Rodriguez’s remarks in his own statement, adding: “It is unconscionable to endanger more New Yorkers’ lives every day, because Albany doesn’t allow us to take measures that we know make our streets safer, like setting our own speed limits, fully utilizing our already existing speed cameras, and more.” Gounardes is the sponsor of Senate Bill S5602, the bill giving New York City local authority over school zone speed camera enforcement.
More information on Mayor Adams’ administration’s call for state legislators to give New York City “home rule” over traffic enforcement is available via the city.