Thursday, February 9, 2012

Chicago polorized over red light camera

Yep, speeding cameras are coming to Chicago this summer and we got our shorts in a bunch about them. Rumblings of this first appeared on last fall when the State was looking into the cameras and have only increased since Governor “Haven’t Been Indicted Yet” Quinn approved them last week.

As with any message board discussion, all the finer points pretty much get presented and discussed to death on all the various threads, with all the usual manners and finesse the anonymity of the internet bring and this issue is no exception.

There's a major ideological division going on over the cameras. Some people are in the if you don't speed, you will not get a ticket Camp while others are in you cannot fool me; this is more about revenue than safety Camp.

My take is that if the collective We that makeup society could police ourselves enough to not drive all bat shit crazy and not bend or break the rules of the road, we wouldn’t need these cameras in the first place. Obviously, we can’t.

Even when the Don’t Speed Camp begrudgingly acknowledges the Revenue over Safety Camp, they do so with a resounding: SO WHAT.

The So What are these cameras are the technical details are weighted to maximize violations. Kinda like the House winning more often in Vegas than the average Joe.

From The Expired Meter, no clue where he got it from
The Parking Ticket Geek posted on his blog The Expired Meter a list of the 79 locations of red light camera intersections which qualify for speed camera status by their 1/8 mile proximity to a school or park. Based on the map, it will be difficult to get from one part of town to another without encountering a speed camera.

You can tell by some of the comments on EB – if not the actual commenter’s avatar tags – are by people who have lived in the city a long time. They know firsthand how the city has a track record of making poor decisions under false pretenses or alternative agendas...parking meter lease deal anyone?

I’m smart enough, old enough, and cynical enough to know that this isn’t being done exclusively for my “safety and security” a war cry we have heard since 9/11 and will always hear.

Some people have used this as a platform to complain about everything from Union pensions to the war on drugs. Others feel the cameras are the wrong way to go and we should hire more cops to issue these speeding tickets. I disagree. Cops should go after the heavier law breakers especially if there is a feasible technological solution that works as well.

A year ago, I was almost exclusively using the El so something like this wouldn't have concerned me too much. The driving I do on weekends is relatively minimal.

These days I commute to the suburbs for work. They drive differently in the suburbs than in the city. Much differently. And I think these are the people who are going to get caught the most.

  • People who live in the city but work in the suburbs
  • People who live in the suburbs but their work brings them to the city

In the burbs, the yellow lights and turn arrows last a lot longer than the 2-3 seconds they do in the city.
In a lot of suburbs, there are sensors that can extend the light/arrow a few seconds longer to keep traffic flowing.  Imagine how that switch in paradigm is gonna affect those two sets of people.

Sidenote:  I’ve found myself in the left turn queue 8 – 10 cars back and watching the light turn green and it’s a good 5 seconds before the first car wakes up and realizes he can go. In the city that would prevent everyone from being able to legally turn though it wouldn’t stop the first three cars from trying.

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