Buffalo Common Council keeping tabs on school zone speed camera program

Local News

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Speed cameras near 20 school zones across the City of Buffalo are scheduled to go live once again on March 1st. The Buffalo Common Council continued to entertain questions about the program on Tuesday, when the legislation committee continued the conversation. Peter Rizzo, a private citizen who is a certified urban planner, was allowed to explain why he opposes the program.

By his own admission, Rizzo’s vehicle has been photographed driving past a school in the city. But that’s not why he says he believes the cameras should disappear. He says the city’s high poverty rate, about 30%, is one reason the program doesn’t work.

“This program is flawed from the very beginning,” Rizzo told News 4.

Rizzo claims some of the cameras are placed in school zones with low rates of injury crashes. He alleged the cameras are instead generally placed in highly trafficked areas. Rizzo also claims the cameras disproportionately target high-poverty, minority neighborhoods.

Rizzo says he discovered this through open records requests and data from the Greater Buffalo Niagara Regional Transportation Council.

The city’s parking commissioner, Kevin Helfer, attended the virtual committee meeting as well. He said he would like to take a look at Rizzo’s data and report back in two weeks.

“There are things we absolutely disagree with,” Helfer said.

“We really just want people to take their foot off the pedal,” said the city’s DPW Commissioner, Michael Finn, who also heard Rizzo speak.

The cameras take pictures of speeding motorists. A $50 fine is mailed to the car’s registered owner. In December, the council asked Mayor Byron Brown to hit pause on the program. Through the month of February, the beacons that accompany the cameras are flashing. But fines are not being mailed out for the remainder of the month.

Chris Horvatits is an award-winning reporter who joined the News 4 team in December 2017. See more of his work here.

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