Emanuel's speed camera ordinance passes amid confessions

Date: 
04/19/2012

Mayor Emanuel's ordinance for automated speed cameras to be placed around schools and parks passed in the full City Council meeting Wed., Apr. 18. Basing their votes on enhancing children's safety in Chicago, some of the aldermen apparently used discussion time to "confess" their own speeding transgressions for which they were caught.

The ordinance as passed does include the proposed  changes for drivers: 6 to 10 miles per hour over a posted speed limit will receive a $35 fine instead of the original proposed $50 and drivers going more than 10 miles per hour over the limit will receive $100 fines. Fines will be doubled if not paid on time and 5 unpaid fines will result in the loss of the driver’s license. Unpaid fines could also cause a car to be booted. Warnings will be handed out to first-time offenders rather than tickets and no drivers caught speeding by the cameras during the first 30 days of enforcement will be ticketed.

Hours of camera operations around the schools are to be 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and there is to be an addition of 1/8 mile coverage around parks while parks are open instead of from one hour before the parks open to one hour after they close.

Capped at 300 cameras, distribution is to be in 6 regions with no region to receive less ore more than 10% citywide total.  Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein indicated that initial installations will be a "field test" of solutions from a short list of vendors. His prediction is that the first year, installations will be 50 or less.

While no correlation data between  speed cameras near schools and parks and a reduction in child injuries and fatalities was provided by the City, 33 aldermen voted for the ordinance while 14 voted against. Those in opposition were: Aldermen Bob Fioretti, 2nd Ward; Pat Dowell, 3rd Ward; Will Burns, 4th Ward; Leslie Hairston, 5th Ward; Roderick Sawyer, 6th Ward; Sandi Jackson, 7th Ward; Michael Chandler 24th Ward; Scott Waguespack, 32nd Ward; Nick Sposato, 6th Ward; John Arena, 45th Ward; James Cappleman, 46th Ward; Ameya Pawar 47th Ward; Harry Osterman, 48th Ward and Brendan Reilly, 42nd Ward.

"It's hard to look at the data and say that there's definitive proof that we need speed cameras blanketing the entire city," said Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd) before the meeting.

The Transportation Alliance showed videos this week in support of the ordinance. They showed a pedestrian being hit by a driver taking a right hand turn and a yellow school bus among other vehicles speeding through Humboldt Park at around 40 miles per hour.

As reported in the Chicago Tribune, the Mayor has been supported in this street cam effort by Traffic Safety Coalition, a group pushing for the speed cameras. That group is headed by Greg Goldner, a close political ally of the Mayor, and funded by Redflex Traffic Systems, the city's red-light camera vendor.

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