NY Speaker Heastie’s car triggers speed cameras 12 times
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, a Democrat from the Bronx, has come under scrutiny after a state vehicle assigned to him was caught speeding through a school zone in the Bronx on April 30. According to NYC OpenData, the vehicle with license plate “NYA 1” has been tied to 11 other speed violations, including four last year, as well as a failure to stop at a red light dating back to 2017. The revelations have emerged as the 2023 legislative session draws to a close, with advocates calling for Heastie to hold a floor vote on “Sammy’s Law”, which would allow New York City to set a 20-mile-per-hour speed limit on some streets to improve safety.
The legislation has already passed the State Senate, but Heastie has yet to bring it to a vote in the Assembly. Advocates argue that the lower limit could save lives as there is a significantly higher fatality rate at speeds even just 5 miles above 20. “We are demanding that the Assembly bring the bill to a vote,” said Amy Cohen, a traffic safety activist whose 12-year-old son Sammy Cohen Eckstein was killed in a traffic crash in 2013. “It’s outrageous.”
However, the proposal has stalled in the Assembly as some Democrats have raised concerns, particularly those from outer boroughs, considering the backlash to traffic safety initiatives from their constituents alongside outrage over upcoming congestion pricing to charge drivers entering Manhattan below 60th Street. Transportation Chair Bill Magnarelli, a Democrat from Syracuse, also claimed that the bill may have had better chances if the New York City Council had delivered a formal request for it earlier in the year. This charge was disputed by a Council spokesperson, who pointed to the flurry of bills passed by the chamber recently.
City records have shown at least 125 traffic violations, mostly for speeding, by vehicles with Assembly-affiliated license plates. It remains unclear exactly who was assigned those vehicles, as are any accompanying photographs from speed cameras. In 2019, Heastie’s spokesperson, Mike Whyland, attributed seven violations dating back to 2016 to unnamed staff members. “While the Speaker was not the driver of this vehicle, he is very disappointed and has spoken to the staff members who were operating the vehicle,” Whyland said at the time.
What is Sammy’s Law?
Sammy’s Law is a proposed legislation that would allow New York City to set a 20-mile-per-hour speed limit on some streets in an effort to improve safety.
Why has it not been passed yet?
The proposal has been stalled in the Assembly due to concerns raised by some Democrats, particularly those from outer boroughs. Some are concerned about backlash from constituents over traffic safety initiatives and the upcoming congestion pricing to charge drivers entering Manhattan below 60th Street.
Why are advocates calling for a floor vote on Sammy’s Law?
Advocates argue that the lower speed limit could save lives as there is a significantly higher fatality rate at speeds even just 5 miles above 20.
What is the controversy surrounding Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie’s vehicle?
A state vehicle assigned to Heastie was caught speeding through a school zone in the Bronx in April, with records showing it has been tied to 11 other speed violations and a failure to stop at a red light dating back to 2017. City records also show at least 125 traffic violations, mostly for speeding, by vehicles with Assembly-affiliated license plates. It remains unclear who was assigned those vehicles.
Speaker Heastie’s vehicle sets off speed cameras a dozen times in NY.
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) could potentially have a dozen reasons for his opposition to allowing New York City to establish lower speed limits. Public data from NYC OpenData reveals that state vehicles associated with Heastie, including the “NYA 1” license plate, have been caught violating speeding limits 11 times, with four of those events occurring last year and one as recently as April 30. In addition, the license plate was involved in at least one incident where it failed to stop at a red light in 2017. These findings come just as the 2023 legislative session is coming to a close, and Heastie has not yet scheduled a vote on “Sammy’s Law,” which aims to empower New York City to establish a twenty-mile-per-hour speed limit on particular roads. Supporters of the bill tout data demonstrating a higher fatality rate when vehicles exceed this proposed limit by even five miles per hour. Amy Cohen, an activist whose child died in a traffic accident in 2013, criticized the delay, calling it “outrageous.” While “Sammy’s Law” passed in the State Senate this week, Assembly Democrats from outer boroughs, concerned about constituents’ resistance to traffic safety measures as well as congestion fees below 60th Street, stymied the bill’s progress in the Assembly. Transportation Chair Bill Magnarelli (D-Syracuse) partially attributed the delay to lack of a formal request from the New York City Council earlier in the year, though a spokesperson disputed this charge. City records indicate that at least 125 violations, mainly for speeding, have been associated with vehicles carrying Assembly-related license plates. It is unclear at this time who was driving these vehicles or if photographic evidence of such action exists. In 2019, Heastie’s office suggested that a staff member had been responsible for seven previous violations, noting that the Speaker was “disappointed” and had reminded “them that reason we passed the speed-camera legislation was to ensure the safety of students and the public, and that these violations are unacceptable.”