At the head of the room, from left to right: Kelly, Kubly, Klein, Quinn, Laurino, an assistant, Colón, and Cappleman. They are all referenced in the text below. Updated April 13, 2012, 12:35 to add that it passed 7-3.
I am trying a different method to write this article. The hearing I attended for three hours conveyed a lot of complex information and sentiments and it’s going to be very difficult for me to communicate all of those things, especially for those who’ve never attended or watched a city council meeting or committee meeting. I want Grid Chicago readers to have the best information so they can converse with their aldermen in the next few days about speed cameras before the ordinance goes to the full council for voting on April 18, 2012. With that in mind, I have broken the information into easy to follow sections about what happened (what, when, where, who, why) and, in a second post later today, into categories for what people said (operations, contracts, safety). At the end will a full list of aldermen who spoke and my interpretations of their concerns.
What happened Wednesday
There was a hearing to consider Mayor Emanuel’s proposed update to the existing “automated traffic enforcement system” ordinance in Chicago, more commonly known as the speed camera ordinance, but officially titled “Establishment of Children’s Safety Zones program” (see our full coverage of speed cameras). It’s extremely important to note that there was a revised ordinance that was completed moments before the hearing for the committee to consider. 46th Ward Alderman James Cappleman expressed his displeasure at being unable to read the revised ordinance because he didn’t receive it until 5 minutes before the hearing began.
The ordinance passed the committee with a 7 to 3 vote. I am awaiting a roll call for that vote.
I’ve read the original ordinance originally introduced on March 14, 2012, but I was unable to read the revised ordinance. Documents distributed to the aldermen are not distributed to the public. Changes in the revised ordinance were said to include:
- Reduces the fine for the first level violation; 6-10 MPH over is now $35 instead of $50
- Adds a new subsection that requires the CDOT commissioner to divide the city into 6 regions, each holding at least 10% of safety zones (I may have misheard the second part about holding a specific number of safety zones). These regions are for reporting data.
- Aldermanic notification when speed cameras are proposed to be placed in their wards
- Cleans up text/language
Commissioner Gabe Klein talked about an advisory council that would be made up of the PTS chair, vice chair, and members of the community. They would review crash stats and other data and weigh in on the most effective locations for speed cameras to reduce speeding and crashes.
When did the meeting happen
The Pedestrian and Traffic Safety Committee (PTS), chaired by 39th Ward Alderman Margaret “Marge” Laurino, rescheduled its meeting from April 4, 2012, to Wednesday, April 11, 2012, at 1 PM. The hearing started at 1:25 PM and concluded at 4:30 PM. I was under the impression that the committee would also consider the ordinance to enter into a contract for bike sharing but that has been moved to a second meeting, on Friday, April 13th, in council chambers, at 10 AM. They will also conduct the rest of committee business, which includes consideration of humdrum ordinances to change one-way streets, add or modify parking restrictions, loading zones, and other traffic changes.
Where did the meeting happen
City Council chambers at City Hall, 121 N LaSalle Street. All committee meetings are open to the public unless otherwise noted. Anyone may testify in support of or opposition to any agenda item. Find meeting agendas on the City Clerk’s website. Not all agendas are published in advance of meetings. This is usually not the fault of the clerk.
Members of the PTS committee at the head of the room were, from left to right, 13th ward Alderman Marty Quinn, 39th ward Alderman Laurino, 35th ward Alderman Rey Colón, and 46th ward Alderman James Cappleman. There are 15 members in total. Vice Chairman Deborah Graham, alderman of the 29th ward, was unable to attend. Laurino explained, with a hint of irony in her voice, that Graham was in a car crash and has a fractured foot. She’s in the hospital and will be in surgery on Thursday. Said Laurino, “We don’t know if there was speeding involved in that”.
Transportation commissioner Gabe Klein and managing deputy commissioner Scott Kubly represented the Mayor’s proposed ordinance and answered a majority of the questions. Rose Kelly of the Department of Law was present to answer relevant questions about the proposed ordinance or the existing Illinois statute that enables cities with at least 1 million citizens create an automated traffic enforcement system that includes cameras that can issue citations to speeding automobile drivers. A representative from the Office of Management and Budget was supposed to come but did not; this was problematic because several important questions couldn’t be answered properly.
Many individual alderman spoke. I will expand on what they said in a second post later today.
Why is this ordinance being proposed
Mayor Emanuel wants to reduce children’s serious injuries and fatalities. The ordinance accomplishes this by implementing an automated camera system to record speeding violations that would likely reduce the incidence of speeding and therefore the injury and fatality rate. It’s well-known to sustainable transportation activists and advocates that someone who is hit by a car moving at 20 MPH has a 90% (or greater) chance of living. Someone who is hit by a car moving at 40 MPH has a 10-15% chance of living. As you can see in the photo above (and in the image below), that information was graphically portrayed and the slide was left on the screen for over an hour. You may also notice Active Transportation Alliance’s logo in the corner. They distributed a press release and fact sheet (pdf) on Wednesday with the fact sheet showing the same graphic. Active Trans is calling for broader enforcement times to match what the state law allows and to keep the fine thresholds.