Buffalo lawmakers choose 20 school zones for speed cameras

Apr 10, 2019

Gov. Andrew Cuomo hasn't even signed Buffalo's speed camera bill into law, but city officials have already decided on the 20 speed zones where the cameras will be watching.

There is increasing concern that drivers really don't care about driving safely in the areas around schools or around school buses with those flashing red lights. Drivers speed or run red lights. They also don't stop for school buses.

Now, surveillance cameras will be used to keep track of license plates of bad drivers traveling above the 15 mph speed limit during morning and afternoon school hours. Legislation sent to the governor calls for 20 speed zones, potentially with multiple cameras.

Locations of the cameras are on a list distributed to Common Council members. Acting Public Works Commissioner Michael Finn said it is all about the data, traffic volume and accident data.

"Those speak to risk of potential incidents," Finn said. "So it would be fair to say that schools like those along Main Street, like you mentioned, between Canisius College and UB South Campus would likely be at the higher end of the list just because of the fact that that's a higher traffic volume street and also just by law of averages when you have more traffic volume you have more accidents."

The cameras won't just protect public schools, as the list includes zones serving non-public schools, like the one on Abbott Road protecting South Buffalo's Discovery School 67 and Notre Dame Academy.

Council Majority Leader David Rivera likes where the cameras will go in his West Side district.

"Porter Avenue in my district. It has three schools: a college, DaVinci High School and Grover Cleveland," Rivera said, "and you're right, it's based on statistics and based on accidents that have occurred on those intersections and I agree with you completely that that is an appropriate place."

There is also a fourth school: School 3 on Porter Avenue and Niagara Street. Masten District Councilmember Ulysees Wingo likes the way the zones were chosen, as well.

"They were not just chosen arbitrarily. They were chosen based off of the data and I really appreciate the fact that this was a data-formed initiative where we have the most traffic and most volume at those particular locations," Wingo said.

The plan is for the first 30 days, drivers will get notices they broke the speed law on camera and then fines kick in. There is a separate piece of legislation to allow cameras in those wings that swing out from school buses when the red lights start flashing.

Everyone involved is waiting for the governor to sign the bills, possibly at the same time he signs the far larger bill for school zone cameras in New York City.