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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OK, maybe I was too harsh when I condemned the endorsements of the Active Transportation Alliance in a recent newsletter. Specifically the items they were endorsing were:

1. Allow red light cameras to be used in the Chicago and St. Louis metropolitan areas.
2. Require tickets issued in Chicago to be reviewed by a technician and a third party that is unaffiliated with the red light camera company.
3, Require tickets issued in communities outside Chicago to be reviewed by a technician and a current or retired police officer
4. Allow anyone ticketed to review the footage online
5. Ticket drivers who pass the stop bar and enter a crosswalk only when pedestrians or bicyclists are present.

All of these items seem to me to be making too many concession to car drivers just to make the red-light-cameras acceptable to them. Instead of making it easier for drivers, I think we should make it harder for drivers.

I did get a nice phone call from Dan Perskey of the ATA, explaining that they were trying to minimize the anti-red-light impact of the car driving group.

With all due respect I'm getting tired of just trying to be accommodated. I want to see us as full and equal. But I can understand their strategy even if I don't agree with it.

There are more car drivers than bike riders, but we're better organized and active than they are. Let me suggest that all of us, each of us individually, contact our state legislators (many of whom are up for re-election this year) and let them know we support the red-light-cameras, that we'd like to see the Right-Turn-On-Red law abolished, that we'd like to see the cameras used for speed monitoring as well as turn monitoring.

You may not even know your state representatives; here's a way to find them:

Go to http://www.chicagojwj.org/ - Chicago Jobs With Justice website
On the right side, "Find Elected Officials"
Fill in your Zip Code - 9-digit is better
Click "Find", Click "State"

Send an email to EACH of your state representatives. Even better, write or call them. Remember that each of you has one Representative and one Senator at the Illinois State level.

We need to "take the lane" in legislative support as well as in the street.

I'll double-post this, since I didn't really know a discussion was already taking place.
Here is a fascinating article:

A Georgia town made a law that at every intersection with a camera they would have to increase the yellow light times. The result was red light running went down so dramatically that they removed the cameras because the fines didn't even cover camera maintenance. I'd be interested to see if red light running went up after removing the camera, but still the lesson is clear: with increased yellow times, red light running dropped dramatically. If we still want cameras, why not do both?


Just because some people "think" 3 seconds is enough, doesn't mean it is enough. I have to laugh at Steele in that article "what works in one place may not work in another", then he goes on to say how much more dangerous Chicago streets are even at the same speeds, and that justfies SHORTER yellows? Yes different speed limits and types of streets may mean safety is best implemented a different way, but instead of guesswork there is an easy way to determine what is the best light timing: experimentation and observation.

Change the timing and monitor the intersection, and see what happens. That actually gives concrete information, rather than guesswork and "we've always done it this way." Saying "this is how it's been done in the past" is not a reason, and not scientific. Saying "new york does this" is not a reason to do it. Whatever we do should be based on hard evidence of what works best. And when gathering such evidence is ridiculously easy, there is no excuse not to.
Here we go again - making it easier for drivers to drive and making it more inconvenient and dangerous for bicyclists and pedestrians!

The legislation also would give drivers more wiggle room to creep up to the edge of an intersection before stopping. A complete stop still would be required before making a right turn on red, but drivers could come to a halt after the painted stop line without getting a ticket as long as pedestrians were not nearby. Drivers awaiting a green light to head straight into an intersection also could stop past the line without being nabbed by a camera.

Go ahead - driver over the painted stop line, into the pedestrian crosswalk - just to see if you can sneak through the red and save a couple of seconds.

I still disagree with the Active Transportation Alliance in supporting this legislation and asking us to support it.

Curbs on red-light camera tickets OK'd in state Senate

By Michelle Manchir and Ray Long, Tribune Reporters

March 25 2010, 6:04 PM CDT

SPRINGFIELD -- Drivers would get a little more leeway at intersections with red-light cameras but face a stiffer penalty for driving at excessive
speeds under separate measures state lawmakers advanced Thursday.

The complete article can be viewed at:
Since this thread started I've been paying closer attention to the red light cam at Damen and Division, where I live. I do not see the camera flash for many incidents that I would personally consider illegal (someone waiting behind the stop line in the left turn lane, turns behind the car in front of him on a yellow/red) or at the very least antisocial (gunning it to make it through a yellow/ red rather than stopping). I really only see the camera flash when someone enters the intersection after the light is already red. Nothing wrong with that imo, and although I am normally someone who would err on the side of civil liberties and privacy, I don't see its relevance here... no one has a right to break the law without being caught.
Slightly OT, but here's an article about a (IMO) more intelligent method of traffic control.
New research from the University of Connecticut suggests that minor reductions in vehicle speed are possible through changes in the street environment. Through the use of roadside parking, tighter building setbacks, and more commercial land uses, road designers can make drivers subconsciously drive more slowly, according to a study of hundreds of roads in Connecticut. It’s a revelatory demonstration of the power of design to change the way people interact with transportation.


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