Speed cameras: Aldermen express their concerns at hearing (part 2 of 3)


Speed cameras have been used around the world for decades, reducing speeding everywhere they’re installed. This van is a mobile speed camera enforcement “device” used in Nottingham, England. Photo by Lee Haywood. 

The adoption of a speed camera system in Chicago is multi-faceted: it goes beyond encouraging people to speed less (which would increase the safety of all people in the streets), but touches on other issues like surveillance and how contracts and bidding are conducted. It has also induced people to think about other ways the city can achieve the same safety goals (fewer crashes, injuries and fatalities).

This post is part 2 of 3 about the hearing in council chambers on Wednesday, April 11, 2012, I will synthesize the concerns the aldermen discussed, their frustrations with how the automated speed camera enforcement system would work, and disappointment in being unable to receive (for weeks) the information they requested. I apologize profusely if there’s inaccurate information (like, are there really 85 schools with basketball programs?); I may have written that information down incorrectly as it’s hard to understand everyone if they don’t speak properly into the microphone.

Read part 1, part 3, or read all of our coverage on speed cameras. In this hearing, aldermen on the Pedestrian and Traffic Safety committee aired their questions alongside aldermen not on the committee – I’ve noted which aldermen are not on the committee. Continue reading Speed cameras: Aldermen express their concerns at hearing (part 2 of 3)

Speed camera hearing generates a new question for every one answered (part 1 of 3)


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.

This post is part 1 of 3 about the speed camera hearing. Read part 2 and part 3 (both published Friday, April 13, 2012).

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.  Continue reading Speed camera hearing generates a new question for every one answered (part 1 of 3)

Important Chicago city council committee meeting today on bike sharing and speed cameras


A raised crosswalk is one traffic calming device that hasn’t been tried beyond the two installations in the Lincoln Square pedestrian area at Lawrence and Lincoln Avenues. 

Updated 23:53: Today’s meeting was a hearing only about speed cameras. A second meeting is scheduled for Friday, April 13th, 2012, at 10 AM, to consider an ordinance to enter into a contract with Alta for bike sharing and the other agenda items (pdf). Updated Friday, April 13, 2012, 17:15: The committee approved the ordinance to enter into a contract with Alta Bicycle Share. 

The Pedestrian and Traffic Safety committee rescheduled their important meeting from last week to today at 1 PM in City Council Chambers, 2nd floor of City Hall, 121 N LaSalle Street. The committee, chaired by 39th Ward Alderman Margaret Laurino, will receive a presentation from Chicago Department of Transportation Managing Deputy Commissioner Scott Kubly on bike sharing.

The committee will also be discussing speed camerasContinue reading Important Chicago city council committee meeting today on bike sharing and speed cameras

Speed cameras: There’s more than meets the eye (updated)


This map shows that 58.8% of Chicago streets, excluding highways, are eligible for speed camera enforcement. Open the map.

The Expired Meter has been tracking the speed camera issue very well. (Here’s our coverage.) Along with reporting that an ordinance would be introduced to alderman at tomorrow’s monthly City Council meeting, it reported Monday on an interview with Alderman Waguespack who had been briefed on the city’s speed camera goals:

Originally, city officials claimed existing red light camera locations would be utilized to do double duty and be retrofitted to also do speed enforcement.

But, according to Waguespack’s understanding of the briefing presented by officials from the Mayor’s office, Chicago Police Department and Chicago Department of Transportation, the city’s long range goal is to install speed cameras at 1,800 intersections near school and parks under the auspices of slowing down drivers through $50 to $100 fines for speeding near these intersections. The state law calls for cameras to be used within a 1/8 of a mile safety zone surrounding the schools and parks. [They can be used in those areas, and in no other areas.] Continue reading Speed cameras: There’s more than meets the eye (updated)

Mayor’s comments to Chicago Tribune about speed cameras


Crossing the street shouldn’t be so daunting that you see a cross on the other side. Photo by Gabriel Michael. 

I posted Saturday a link to the Chicago Tribune’s article about their interview with Mayor Emanuel. They also published the transcript of that 90 minute talk, which I didn’t see until after publishing the post. I’m not going to stop following the speed camera issue. It’s directly related to street safety and active transportation and I’ve not found good research that shows that speed cameras don’t reduce speeding.

Notice in the third paragraph of the first excerpt that Mayor Emanuel is committing all resources (which I interpret as revenues from speeding tickets issued by the automated speed camera enforcement system) to “increasing public safety for children near schools and parks”. The act, now an Illinois law since last Monday, includes specific directives on how the money can be spent although one of them is extremely broad.

Here are some excerpts from that interview I think are relevant to the discussion of speed camera placement in Chicago. They are not the most key in whether or not we should have cameras, but comment on how the City administration is handling the public information campaign.  Continue reading Mayor’s comments to Chicago Tribune about speed cameras

Weekend open thread: Speed cameras, yea or nay?

Watch this video of a small experiment conducted by Volkswagen in Sweden where people who sped funded a lottery that those who didn’t speed were automatically entered into.


Watch The Speed Camera Lottery on YouTube.

Will speed cameras successfully reduce speeding and injuries in Chicago? Would you support such a speed camera lottery? Do you ever think the speed camera lottery would “die”, meaning that people would stop speeding and the lottery would no longer have revenue? Continue reading Weekend open thread: Speed cameras, yea or nay?