Since the onset, the City of Buffalo’s speed camera program was flawed. Now, the Buffalo Common Council has taken action against the program, by voting 6-3 to abolish the cameras that have been causing so much frustration. In lieu of the cameras, the Common Council is asking that the funds get put into infrastructure that would make the streets safer, including the most basic of essentials – crosswalks.
From excessive ticketing in high poverty areas, excessive camera hours, and lack of warning signage (for cars turning onto speed zones), there have been an absurd amount of issues associated with the program.
In its first week of operation, the program generated $1 million worth of fines.
“The speed cameras took millions from city residents during a pandemic, and this legislation rights that wrong,” said Colleen Kristich, Community Researcher at Partnership for the Public Good. “Instead of taking money out of our pockets, the Common Council chose to invest in our communities and invest in child safety through traffic-calming infrastructure. That’s a win-win.”
“We commend the common council for prioritizing investment in our streets and not extraction,” agreed Jalonda Hill, Director and Founder, Colored Girls Bike Too. “The school speed zone camera further exposed the city of Buffalo’s long history of penalizing and extracting millions of dollars from the poorest communities in the city of Buffalo under the guise of safety. The decision to end the school camera program has set the stage for redesigning our streets, with race, culture, class, gender, disability, and community safety, in mind.”
Common Council members are looking to have the excessive and invasive camera program terminated by September 1 of 2022. In the meantime, they feel that – until that time – the traffic program should be non-punitive.
Now it’s up to Mayor Brown, whether he will veto the legislative resolution and ordinance amendment, which was championed by Council member Rasheed Wyatt. If the Mayor vetos the action, then it heads back to Common Council, where it would need 6 votes to overturn the veto and make it a law.
At this point, Wyatt’s call for the abolition of the punitive cameras is generating a lot of support from organizations and residents throughout the city. If the program is eradicated, the school speed limits would remain in place, just not with the punitive camera system that has been the source of so much controversy as of late. In its stead, there would be better signage, crosswalks, and other traffic calming infrastructure implemented.
“The decision yesterday sets Buffalo on the road to enacting measures that actually keep our children safe,” said Phylicia Brown, Director, Black Love Resists in the Rust. “We’ve seen in Elmwood Village, how effective traffic calming infrastructure can be. And, we know that solid, meaningful, and targeted investments will always outperform extractive measures. So today we say thank you to the council as we continue to fight for further measures that keep our streets safe.”
“We truly appreciate the Common Council for taking this important step toward Just Streets, with infrastructure that slows traffic safely and securely; and toward ending extractive, unreliable cash grabs in neighborhoods of color,” said Vicki Ross, Executive Director of the WNY Peace Center. “These changes will increase child safety while advancing Racial, Mobility, Economic, and Environmental Justice in the City of Buffalo!”
Fair Fines + Fees Coalition Member Organizations
African American Health Disparities Task Force + Black Love Resists in the Rust + Center for Constitutional Rights + VOICE-Buffalo Partnership for the Public Good + Erie County Restorative Justice Coalition + National Federation for Just Communities of WNY + Citizen Action of New York + Fines & Fees Justice Center + National Center for Law & Economic Justice + Colored Girls Bike Too + Open Buffalo + WNY Peace Center & Interfaith Peace Network + The Healthcare Education Project + 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East