I've noticed that our friends at the ATA have become quite vocal in support of red light cameras.  I wonder if camera-love is widespread among their membership base (in which I'm included).  I always ride when I'm not working, but I have to drive on the clock, and I've been nailed twice.  Kinda rubs me the wrong way, especially because Chicago seems to have the shortest yellows I've ever seen.  Opinions?  
 

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Hmmm...

The National Campaign to Stop Red Light Running has received funds from the photo enforcement industry in the past and is currently a public service initiative of Blakey & Agnew LLC.

Chicago Bicycle Advocate said:
No one is ever going to like them. But they are effective. Here's a blog post on the recent protest against them.
Effective and just aren't always overlapping concepts.

It's my contention that short yellows create no-win situations. It might be accurate to say that the problem is less the cameras and more the fact that the yellows don't provide enough warning, creating a MORE dangerous situation when opposing traffic gets a green that is premature.

Chicago Bicycle Advocate said:
No one is ever going to like them. But they are effective. Here's a blog post on the recent protest against them.
I will assume we're stuck with them now that we have them. Personally, I don't like them. Disclosure: I have never received a ticket from one.

I just don't agree with the black/white aspect of enforcement on actions as complex as navigating traffic situations. How many people stop at the line and then stop at the stop-sign? The right turn on red issue provides too easy an opportunity. The moving into an intersection to make a left turn (Dug)---in certain intersections, it is the safest way to evaluate oncoming traffic.

I can see the good in placing them in certain high-traffic, congested, especially LARGE* intersections. Y'know, the ones where everyone has been waiting through light after light to get to the front of the left-turn lane so everyone just keeps going and going.

*A particular note of which I define the exurbs as opposed to the suburbs. Go out by Plainfield, Aurora, etc. Just too large for a single field of vision. Lots of accidents at these in my experience, but I have never seen a scientific study on the problem.

I say live with the red-light cameras. The real issue is transportation design. I see an awful lot of horribly designed roads with no thought to their actual practicality. The latest trend I sincerely disagree with is (I need a better term) "parking lot side-roads". That is, you make a complex of commercial buildings isolated from a major artery. Then dictate that each building have so much % of parking lot per square footage. The whims of each development then dictates traffic patterns within the maze one by one. In the end, you must drive through two city blocks of parking-lot roads. They are incredibly unsafe for everyone involved. Especially as it obscures logical address markings, GPS units only get you to the complex and not your destination, and thus distracted drivers. In this case, it purely is a financial issue. The city then does not own what would have otherwise been a secondary road structure. The businesses must maintain them instead.

I dislike watching LA rebuild itself in Chicago.
Not so! As noted in earlier posts, legislation has been introduced to ban them in IL.

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/illinois-considers-bill-banning-red-...

Arrak Thumrs said:
I will assume we're stuck with them now that we have them.
Aren't you allowed to enter the intersection for a left, and allowed to clear it if the light is yellow/red?

And downhill isn't an excuse... speedlimit is the speedlimit, even if you ruin your brakes by riding them. <3 sticks shift for this reason...
I think the largest problem we are faced with is changing the habits of drivers in general. What passes for legal driving behavior in Chicago will get you multiple tickets in another town. Swerving around potholes, getting around trucks and busses, different yellow duration lengths, this city is a fricken obstacle course. A lot of drivers prefer the offensive to the defensive while getting from point A to point B. Offensive drivers scare me the most. Always in a hurry, always more important than anyone else on the roads.

Law makers are always trying to made a buck while taking advantage of the habits of us silly humans. The #1 change that a driver has had to make in this city since the cameras have been up is the unspocken "3 car rule", you all know it. It's when the light is green at an intersection and you need to turn left. Three cars out past the line and that's it. The light cameras are making a fortune just off that habit of Chicago drivers alone. Don't want to get a ticket, don't get caught in the intersection, the third car always gets the ticket now.

The other area where they get us is the shortening of yellow lights. I actually think as a whole the red light cameras have forced many drivers to change how they approach intersections forcing them to be more aware of what's going on. Slow down a bit when you get near an intersection don't speed up. The problem is yellow lights are different at damn near every intersection. I think if they are going to ticket for running a red, they have to standardize the duration of yellow lights. Yes yes, a six way is different than a 4 way and so on but still there must be some kind of universal understanding instead of guessing which forces the driver to make a rash decision. Go or don't go? Slam on the gas or slam on the break? Not everyone is equally skilled when being forced to make a lightening fast decision that might or might not cause an accident. We are all different in how we process information. Why not cut out the guessing game and standardize yellow light durations.
Technically no but it is common practice; if you are sitting there when the light turns and somebody takes off and runs into you when followed to the letter of the law you are in the wrong.

Trust me on this one, I have gotten the ticket to prove it.

Jessica said:
Aren't you allowed to enter the intersection for a left, and allowed to clear it if the light is yellow/red?

And downhill isn't an excuse... speedlimit is the speedlimit, even if you ruin your brakes by riding them. <3 sticks shift for this reason...
I think its hilarious when critical mass goes through those intersections and the cameras are taking loads of pictures of us on bikes.
As for entering an intersection for a left turn, I don't know the letter of the law.

I have noticed that the "Rules of the Road" does not mention it today (last took my written exam about two years ago). When I was in IL driver's-ed (1990's) it was both taught in class as correct and mentioned as such in the "Rules of the Road" booklet published by the state.
Official response from Active Trans:

This issue is extremely complex and controversial on many levels. We respect the concerns of citizens that video enforcement of laws may be an infringement on individual’s civil rights. We also understand that our mission is to represent the widest range of bicyclists, pedestrians and transit riders.

Red light cameras only record those that break the law. They do not record everyone who enters an intersection -- just those who enter them illegally.

The use of red light cameras is just one tool that municipalities can use to reduce traffic crashes. We strongly encourage municipalities to use the revenue earned from red light camera enforcement to reinvest those dollars directly into other tools: improvements in street design, intersection design, and education so that the need for red light cameras lessens over time.

We are not a civil rights institution or advocate. While we respect the concerns of civil rights advocates, we can only advocate for the safety of our streets and protect the interests of vulnerable users of the road. There are, for example, libertarian activists who feel that we should not pass any additional traffic laws. While we understand this perspective, we leave that battle for others.

We also realize that there are times when our positions will not be completely aligned with each of our members’ opinions. We will do our best to weigh the pros and cons on each issue and take a stand that is consistent with our mission and that of our strategic plan. Our organization is an open democratic member based organization, and our board members are open to members. You are welcome to voice concerns about any of our positions directly to our board. We will soon be posting board meeting minutes and agendas on our website. You can also reach us at info@activetrans.org.

Thank you,

Rob Sadowsky, Executive Director
Active Transportation Alliance
Had to go through about four RLCs in Bolingbrook for a year or two. Never spooked me much. But then I usually leave myself enough time so that I don't have to rush and make $100 snap-decisions about yellow lights.

I also learned to stay behind the line during a left turn until the intersection was clear instead of hanging out in the middle (a habit I picked up riding my motorcycle - you feel awfully exposed out there). If there was any doubt, I'd just sit it out for another round.

I bet RLCs produce an uptick in rear-enders for a short time until drivers figure out where the cameras are, then a big decrease in accidents after that. I'd also be willing to be that the rear-enders were mainly minor bumper-benders, whereas accidents where people blow red lights are often fatal T-bones.

I'm not opposed to 'em. It's a tax on Type-A personalities, just like the lottery is a tax on people who don't understand basic statistics.
Dave Jacque said:
I'm not opposed to 'em. It's a tax on Type-A personalities, just like the lottery is a tax on people who don't understand basic statistics.

Punitive taxation based on inherent personality traits?

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