Speed Camera Expansion Gets Special Focus on West St., Near Local Schools

The new speed camera on West Street, near Warren, outside P.S./I.S. 89. DOT installer Jelani Brown was on hand before the press briefing for a photo op. The camera had been previously installed. Photo: Carl Glassman/Tribeca Trib

Jul. 01, 2019

Standing outside her school near the corner of West and Warren Streets on Friday, I.S. 289 Principal Zeynep Ozkan had come to say thanks. She was attending a press briefing for the city’s speed camera program that this month will begin a major expansion. And for her the news was personal.

One of those cameras was now installed nearby, ready to begin clocking motorists in the school vicinity.

“At I.S. 289 almost every student actually crosses this street right here,” she told the gathering, which included city Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, and Assemblywoman Deborah Glick, who had pushed for the state law that enabled the expansion. There are six lanes of freeway that they have to cross to go to school. It is one of my personal terrors that they cross here every day.” 

On July 11 the city will begin adding hundreds of new cameras in speed zones around the city, and double their hours of operation. Trottenberg noted that the West Street camera is in an especially critical location. “West Street is challenging,” she said. “It is actually a state highway. It is one of the busiest arterials. It is also a residential street connecting Tribeca and Battery Park City. The data shows that motorists treat this more like a highway than a residential street.”

Glick noted the camera’s proximity to not only I.S. 289 and P.S. 89, but also to the Battery Park City ball fields across Warren Street, and to the Downtown Community Center and P.S. 234 nearby in Tribeca. “This is the nexus of family activity,” she said. This is where people from the entire community take their kids to school, take them to play ball and to a community center. This is the most important spot.”

According to Trottenberg, speeding is reduced by more than 60 percent and injuries go down by 14 percent where speed cameras are installed. Fines will remain at $50 and are issued to drivers who exceed the limit by more than 10 miles an hour. (The West Street speed limit is 35.) The DOT says 80 percent of violators are not ticketed a second time.

“It seems to have a pretty powerful effect and now there’s going to be a lot more cameras in the city,” Trottenberg said. “And they’re going to be operating a lot more hours on a lot more streets.”

In May, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the city will be adding about 40 cameras per month this year and about another 50 monthly in 2020, expanding the number of speed zones from 140 to 750. The new speed camera law, sponsored by Glick and State Senator Andrew Gounardes, also means that the cameras can operate within a wider radius of a school than state law previously allowed.

Glick, however, also used the occasion as a life lesson for all New Yorkers, not just motorists. “People are rushing too much,” she said. “Everybody needs to slow down.”