Pol looks to bring speeding cameras to dangerous roadway
by Timothy Fenster
Jun 06, 2012 | 3160 views | 4 4 comments | 22 22 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Many Greenpoint residents call McGuinness Boulevard, North Brooklyn’s central north-south roadway, the “Boulevard of Death.”

It’s a nickname that's well earned. According to state Department of Transportation (SDOT) data, between 2005 and 2009 there were 57 car accidents involving pedestrians or cyclists on the McGuiness Boulevard, resulting in four fatalities.

In an effort to curb speeding and fatal accidents, Assemblyman Joseph Lentol introduced legislation last week to install cameras that would ticket motorists speeding on McGuinness Boulevard. If passed, these speed cameras would be the first in New York.

“We’ve experienced a lot of [accidents here], and this legislation intends to stop it,” Lentol said in an interview. “If you’re not going to drive the speed limit, you should be prepared to face the consequences.”

In the past, Albany has shot down any speed camera bills introduced by downstate legislators. However, Lentol’s proposal comes amid a recent push for these devices.

His proposal calls for speed cameras that would detect and cite motorists driving over the 30-mph speed limit. The number of cameras, location and speed at which one is ticketed would be determined by local government, Lentol spokesperson Catherine Peake said.

Ticketed motorists would later receive a ticket and fine in the mail. The fines would be equal to those of a traditional speeding ticket, Peake said.

However, motorists ticketed by a speed camera would not receive points on their license, due to the “constitutional issues” of being cited by an unreasoning piece of technology, Lentol said.

“I don’t like the idea that you can’t confront a camera in court,” Lentol said. “But that’s the price you pay for technology.”

These issues raise a red flag for many speed camera critics, who claim the technology is nothing more than a revenue generator for local governments.

“Speed cameras deny the driver due process of law,” AAA spokesman Robert Sinclair Jr. said. “We see them as revenue enhancers. We don’t like them.”

Despite these legal issues, many Greenpoint residents fed up with the Boulevard’s dangerous traffic would welcome the cameras.

“The traffic (on McGuinness Boulevard) is horrible,” said Maria Carrion, an employee of McGuinness Truck & Auto Parts. “I hope they do it (install speed cameras) tomorrow.”

Resident Carolyn Grifel said McGuinness Boulevard has recently shifted from industrial business to residential housing, creating a “treacherous” situation for local pedestrians and cyclists. Grifel said she once witnessed a hit and run on the Boulevard, involving a cyclist who was not severely injured.

Mariah Robertson, who lives on nearby Eckford Street, avoids cycling on McGuinness Boulevard altogether. “You shouldn’t ride your bike on McGuinness,” she said. “It’s really dangerous.”

Slowing down may improve safety. Speeding is a factor in approximately 25 percent of traffic fatalities, including many involving cyclists, DOT spokesman Nicholas Mosquera said.

But while speeding motorists are partly responsible for fatal accidents, others say reckless pedestrians shoulder the blame as well.

“Everyone is crossing the street even when the light is telling them not to,” Greenpoint resident Renata Prodka said.

For this reason, Sinclair said he believes traditional law enforcement, improved road engineering and traffic safety education are the best approaches to reducing road deaths.

“If you look at the details of these accidents, a lot of them have to do with people jaywalking,” Sinclair said. “It’s lunacy to think you can (safely) jaywalk across McGuinness Boulevard.”

Traffic and community groups have employed a number of recent efforts to improve road safety, including the DOT’s “That’s Why It’s 30” campaign, the Annual Memorial Ride and Walk in Greenpoint, and “ghost bikes” to memorialize those killed in traffic accidents.

Still, problems with speeding and unsafe road practices persist.

On March 27, the McGuinness Boulevard Walking Group, a coalition of community and advocacy groups, released a study that found 66 percent of motorists exceed the 30-mph speed limit on McGuinness Boulevard.

“The cameras are necessary because we’ve tried everything else,” Lentol said. “We’ve got a lot of history on how to stop the speeding on McGuinness Boulevard. The objective of this proposal is to save lives.”
Comments-icon Post a Comment
James C. Walker
June 20, 2012
IF safety is the real goal, the first step is to set the posted speed limit at the level that almost always produces the safest and smoothest traffic flow with the fewest accidents. That is at the 85th percentile speed of free flowing traffic under good conditions. This method frequently raises the numbers on the signs. It also reduces speed variance, passing, conflicts between vehicles, tailgating, etc. AND stops giving a false sense of security to pedestrians and cyclists about the speeds of vehicles they should expect. If the 85th percentile speed is 36 mph or 42 mph, then the posted 30 is wrong and likely raises the accident risks.

Yes, this is counter intuitive. Download the Michigan State Police booklet "Establishing Realistic Speed Limits" from the state website at www.michigan.gov/speedlimits to read the science. Our website has this and a lot more information on why 85th percentile speed limits are safest.

James C. Walker, National Motorists Association, www.motorists.org, Ann Arbor, MI
Tolled Enough !!!
June 20, 2012
If this cost the City money, they wouldn't do it-safety is a false arguement. The sound of cash registers ringing as cars pass a 30 mph sign at 40 mph is music to the ears of Mayor Bloomberg. He couldn't get Congestion Pricing, er, tolling, so this is the next best thing.

Drivers, just send your wallets to City Hall now, or call your local NY State Senator or Representative. Public outcry killed Congestion Pricing and can stop this bad idea too.

Unless you like the idea of getting a bill in the mail months after the alleged "offense".
June 07, 2012
"Ticketed motorists would later receive a ticket and fine in the mail."

No, motorists don't get the tickets. OWNERS get the tickets. Big difference.

In addition, if it was about safety then where is the engineering and where are the engineering reports? Why aren't city traffic engineers recommending these? What do politicians know about traffic engineering? NOTHING! But they do know how to make money, which is what this is about.
Brian Gately
June 09, 2012
I agree with the previous commenter. What would start out as a safety issue will soon become a money-maker for the City and area governments. And there is very little due process.

It would be like the Hudson River bridge which used to cost 35 cents to cross and is now $4.

Don't give the politicians a chance to fleece us anymore than is happending now.

Brian in Brooklyn