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Hell Hath No Fury Like a Writer Who Gets a Speeding Ticket

by nytime
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Good morning. It’s Friday. Today we’ll look at a dust-up on social media about a speeding ticket. We’ll also look at inflation in New York and increases in subway and bus fares that take effect on Sunday.

First there was a social media post about a $50 speeding ticket. That led to the raucousness that can follow a post that strikes a nerve or, in this case, more than one nerve.

The post on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Wednesday came from David Simon, the author, television producer and Baltimore Orioles fan who was a co-creator of the widely praised HBO show “The Wire.”

“What sort of off-brand city sends me a $50 camera ticket for speeding in a school zone for racing at 36 mph in a 25 zone at — wait for it — 5:40 a.m. in total darkness on a morning in — wait for it — mid-July?” he wrote. “Two-word clue: Yankees Suck.”

So — leaving aside the Yankees’ miserable season — Simon acknowledged that he got the ticket in New York, where 2,000 or so speed cameras began operating around the clock last summer.

The city Department of Transportation reposted his comments with a succinct post of its own: “Delete your account.”

The department also said: “The speed limit is 25 MPH across NYC. Related: 10% of people die when hit at 23 MPH. 25% die when hit at 32 MPH.”

Simon said he had paid the ticket. And, as he acknowledged, he got it because he was clocked going 11 miles per hour above the 25 m.p.h. speed limit. The Department of Transportation, which made the cameras an essential weapon in its battle against a surge in speeding and reckless driving that accompanied the pandemic, gives drivers 10 miles per hour of leeway.

Simon, who when reached by telephone did not want to speak on the record, said in subsequent posts that his objection was not to speed cameras, which he said he supports; it was about being ticketed for speeding in a school zone. “They’ve made school zone limits now 24-7,” he wrote. “Early morning hours, summer days, weekends. That’s not about safety. That’s about cash.”

After @cjones47 posted saying “the citywide default speed limit in NYC has been 25 MPH since 2014,” Simon countered: “Then send me a ticket for speeding and I have no comment. But the violation charges speeding in a school zone explicitly, at which point I am going to note the reality of there being no school at 5 am on a summer morn.” (Not repeated here is an expletive he used in that sentence.)

The State Legislature authorized the camera program in 2013 and expanded it in 2019 and again last year, when the cameras went into round-the-clock operation. Until then, they were switched off between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. They now effectively blanket the five boroughs; the Legislature stipulated that cameras had to be placed within a quarter-mile of a school.

Officials say that the cameras have changed drivers’ habits: Speeding in speed-camera zones has dropped significantly, with a decline of more than 80 percent along corridors like the Grand Concourse in the Bronx, Hylan Boulevard on Staten Island and Queens Boulevard in Queens. In 2021, more than half of the vehicles that received one speed-camera ticket did not receive a second — another sign, officials say, that the cameras have made a difference.

Not all the responses to Simon were posted on the X platform. Christopher Robbins wrote an “open letter” to Simon on the website Hell Gate, arguing that there was a difference between the speed cameras in New York and speed traps elsewhere “that have acted as a tax on the poor: People who can afford to own a car in New York are wealthier than those who take mass transit.” He also noted that speed-camera tickets “don’t count toward points on your license (though they probably should), and you can get up to 15 of them before you’re forced to take a class.”

“If New York was trying to generate cash from its street safety program,” Robbins wrote, “it’s doing a lousy job because it costs more to implement than it brings in from fines.”

And then there were the posts about Simon’s swipes at New York — he is a Baltimorean — and at the baseball team in last place in the American League East.

“I bet half the New Yorkers would have agreed with you if you didn’t say NYC is an off brand city while coming from Baltimore and that the Yankees suck,” @Mike_Selick wrote. “The city should triple your fine for your bad attitude.”


Weather

It’s a sunny near the high 80s. At night it’s mostly clear, with temps around the high 60s.

ALTERNATE-SIDE PARKING

In effect until Tuesday (Feast of the Assumption).


The inflation picture for the New York area mirrored the nation as a whole. The Consumer Price Index climbed 3.2 percent in the year through July in the New York area, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics — the same as the national figure.

Food prices were unchanged overall in July in the New York area, even though soups and fresh fruit cost less.

But the “core” inflation index for the New York area, a measure economists follow because it does not count volatile food and fuel prices, was up 4.4 percent for the last year, led by higher housing prices. That increase was less than the comparable national figure of 4.7 percent.

Price increases this month will be reflected in the figures the Bureau of Labor Statistics releases next month. One increase is certain: The basic fare on subways and buses will jump to $2.90, from $2.75, starting next Sunday. Also going up are seven-day unlimited ride passes (to $34, from $33) and 30-day unlimited ride passes (to $132, from $127). Fares on the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North will also increase next Sunday.

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