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Gotcha! More traffic cameras

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Brooklyn drivers have another reason to mind their road manners: more red light cameras are on their way.

The Assembly and State Senate recently approved a measure that will increase the number of cameras in New York City from 100 to 150. The Department of Transportation (DOT) will be responsible for determining just where the red light cameras will go.

The bill, which also mandates the expansion of the red light camera program to Nassau and Suffolk counties as well as Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse, was voted in by the Assembly 100 - 35. A day later, the State Senate passed the bill, which is currently awaiting Governor David Paterson’s signature.

The program, which began in 1993 and was expected to sunset next year, was also extended to 2014.

The bill was co-sponsored by Carroll Gardens Assemblymember Joan Millman, who believes that the cameras will improve driving conditions.

“I strongly support building on the success of the city’s existing red light camera program,” Millman said in a statement. “As a member of the Assembly Committee on Transportation, I have continually advocated for expanding this program to additional intersections. Red light cameras make intersections safer for all of us — pedestrians, bicyclists, drivers and passengers.”

For the most part, Brooklyn assemblymembers voted for the expansion, except for Sunset Park Assemblymember Felix Ortiz and Bergen Beach and Mill Basin Assemblymember Alan Maisel.

When contacted, Maisel said that he didn’t have a problem with the spirit of the law, although he believes that the red light cameras are nothing more than another cash enhancer for the city.

“I don’t have a problem with red light cameras and wouldn’t care if they were at every intersection in the borough,” he said. “But the way they do it is flawed.”

Red light cameras, he said, “does not deter anyone from slowing down” because no one knows where they are.

“If they wanted to make it a true deterrent, they should place a sign a few feet away from the intersection and let them know that the camera is ahead,” he said. “The only people who know that the cameras are there are the locals.”

All of Brooklyn’s State Senators voted for the expansion, Senate officials said.

While many motorists decry the cameras, as well as the $50 fine that appears in the mail if you cross the secret line by the traffic light, bicycling advocates are hailing the measure.

Officials from the bicycle advocacy group Transportation Alternatives said that pedestrian injuries have dropped by 40 percent and severe injuries have dropped by 22 percent at intersections where these covert cameras were installed.

Paul Steeley White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives, saw the additional cameras as “more allies in the fight for automated enforcement to curb reckless driving.”

According to the State Senate, the red light camera program raised $73 million for the city between 1993 and 2008.

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