CDOT Will Install Speed Cams at 5 Locations Where Residents Requested Them

CDOT installed speed cameras by Gompers Park, Foster and Pulaski, in 2014. Photo: Steven Vance
CDOT installed speed cameras by Gompers Park, Foster and Pulaski, in 2014. Photo: Steven Vance

keating

Even though studies in cities around the country and the world have found that traffic enforcement cameras are effective in reducing crashes and serious injuries, there has been a major backlash against the technology in Chicago. Some of that is understandable, due to the Redflex bribery scandal, and glitches with the cams, such as unexplained spikes in ticketing. But much of the resistance to the cameras can be attributed to the fact that many drivers don’t want to be held responsible for maintaining safe speeds and obeying stoplights. Therefore it has been politically difficult for the city to install new traffic cams, and it hasn’t done so for years.

However, today the Chicago Department of Transportation announced that it is installing a new batch of speed cameras near two parks and three schools, and it has political cover to do so because the cams were requested by local aldermen and residents.

Starting in mid-July, the department will install cams near these parks:

Hiawatha Park, 8029 W. Forest Preserve Avenue

  • Camera on the 8000 block of W. Forest Preserve Avenue.
  • Camera on the 8000 block of W. Addison Street.

Kosciuszko Park, 2732 N. Avers Avenue

  • Camera on the 3800 block of W. Diversey Avenue.

In late summer CDOT will put in cameras near these schools:

Acero Schools, including Major Hector P. Garcia MD High School, 4248 W. 47th Street (Formerly Uno Schools)

  • Camera on the 4200 block of W. 47thStreet.

Near North Montessori School,  1434 W. Division Street

  • Camera on the 1400 block of W. Division Street.

Gary Comer College Prep High School, 7131 S. South Chicago Avenue

  • Camera on the 7100 block of S. South Chicago Avenue.
  • Camera on the 800 block of E. 71stStreet.

According to CDOT, after aldermen and resident requested speed cams at these locations, the department conducted site visits and speed studies, and documented that drivers are speeding in these areas. The installations will bring the total number of Safety Zones with automated speed enforcement to 68, with 162 cameras.

The city’s announcement of the new cameras included statements endorsing the project from the local aldermen, including Brian Hopkins (2nd), Milly Santiago (31st), Ariel Reboyras (30th), and Nicholas Sposato (38th).

Helena Stangle, chief external affairs officer for Acero Schools, also praised the installations. “The installation of speed cameras is welcome news to the Acero parents who raised concern about pedestrian traffic danger over the last two school years. Acero supports measures that will improve the safety of our students walking to and from school.”

CDOT noted that a report released last year by the National Transportation Safety Board called for more cities and states to use automated enforcement as a strategy to prevent speed-related crashes. The department also provided the following stats:

  • In Chicago, the number of speeding violations has been trending downward in speed camera zones since cams were first deployed in 2014.
  • The average speed of all recorded traffic in speed cam zones has gone down since 2014 from 26.0 mph to 22.5 mph, a 13 percent decrease.
  • The number of crashes in speed cam zones was down 4 percent in 2015, compared to 2013 data, while elsewhere in the City, total crashes were up 13 percent.

This bottom-up approach to installing traffic cameras, putting the cams in locations where residents have requested them, seems to be a good strategy for the city. But officials should make sure that this tactic doesn’t result in other areas where speeding and red light running are prevalent being left behind due to a lack of requests for the technology from residents.

This post is made possible by a grant from the Illinois Bicycle Lawyers at Keating Law Offices, P.C., a Chicago, Illinois law firm committed to representing pedestrians and cyclists. The content is Streetsblog Chicago’s own, and Keating Law Offices neither endorses the content nor exercises any editorial control.

Streetsblog Chicago will resume publication on Thursday. Have a great Fourth of July!

  • rwy

    Red light cameras came up at an Evanston city council meeting a few weeks ago, and seemed to have no support. Are people really defending running red lights?

    Also, why isn’t the speed enforced at night time?

  • what_eva

    because Rahm sold it as “for the kids” and kids are in bed at night

  • 1400 block of W. Division Street by the Near North Montessori School. There is a lot of speeding here, but there is also a very wide street with 4 wide lanes.

  • Dastardly Don

    The people are supposed to speak through community meetings and there have been none about these locations. No meetings / no cameras!

  • Tooscrapps

    One of my main gripes about the speed cams is that there are ZERO in in and around Lincoln Park. This allows (and rightly so) people to claim inequality of enforcement.

    Is CDOT really telling me no one speeds on Cannon, N. Lakeshore Dr (by the hospital), or where Clark turns into a 4-lane drag strip? Put some in these locations and put that argument to bed.

  • johnaustingreenfield

    To see speed and red light cam locations, go to this map and click the appropriate item in the sidebar. http://webapps1.cityofchicago.org/traffic/

  • Tooscrapps

    Sadly, not working for me, but looks like it has some cool features. I used this: https://data.cityofchicago.org/Transportation/Map-Speed-Camera-Locations/7ajp-yjhe

    I’m not saying I agree with the inequality argument, but the fact there are no speed cams in Lincoln Park and Grant Park is pretty good fodder.

  • planetshwoop

    I live within spitting distance of the camera in the photo and can confirm that they help. It’s not perfect — the stretch of Foster needs to be redesigned to slow down, but won’t be, but that’s an article unto itself why — but people genuinely do slow down near the camera, which is near the park field house.

    Speeding is a moral issue, not a civil one. Until it is seen as an activity with deeply harmful consequences — speeding causes unnecessary deaths, and running stoplights kills children — no amount of enforcement is going to make a meaningful difference, cameras or not.

    We keep appealing to technology to make this better: autonomous cars, speed cameras, automated braking in cars. But it will make little difference until this is morally something we choose to do and embed these morals more carefully into our street designs and education systems.

    Being late is frustrating, going fast is fun! But the difference rarely yields meaningful differences but always increases the risk you’ll kill someone in your car.

  • Tooscrapps

    I agree with a lot of what you said. People are going to do what they want to do, rules be damned. Just look at driver licenses and how many people drive without valid ones.

    I do think wider enforcement would make a difference. Up the fines, add on impoundment if you get say 5 violations in a 12 month period, and habits will change.

  • planetshwoop

    I would like to create a formula that measures how much speeding is increased as people approach/leave an expressway ramp.

    I feel like roughly 1km radius causes a 10mph increase in people driving too fast to get on or off the expressway.

  • planetshwoop

    Sure, but there are consequences to such habits there too. The city starts to depend upon the revenue in the budget, and doesn’t choose other/better sources of revenue. It falls really hard some people who can’t afford it and lose their car for work. Etc etc.

    I know it’s easy to say “well, don’t speed and this doesn’t happen to you” but there are definite issues with amping up enforcement. For example, I should post the picture of the UPS truck I took the other day where there were like 10 little marks on the door of where it had received tickets for parking illegally. Clearly not working.

  • There was a petition with over 150 signatures to get one of these put on Logan Boulevard (which is massively oversized for the amount of traffic – but I’ve pretty much given up on resizing the street or getting any sort of enforcement). The only response from the alderman’s office was that this would just create speeding elsewhere. Does anyone think redefining boulevards as ‘parks’ would help with that effort? They act as parks, there are tons of kids around but because they aren’t managed by the park district we can’t get people to drive reasonable speeds?

  • planetshwoop

    Is this Carlos Rosa?

  • Tooscrapps

    The first issue is tricky. I can’t imagine a income based scale like Finland would ever take hold here.

    As for your second issue, start impounding UPS trucks for illegal parking in bike lanes or crosswalks and the message will be received. Violations that endanger others should be more severe than just a ticket.

  • johnaustingreenfield

    All flat fines are regressive — they hit poor and working-class people harder than more affluent people. A solution that’s becoming increasingly common in Europe is income-based fees: https://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/traffic-fines-regressive-fees-solution/Content?oid=23730503

  • undercover epicurean

    Waguespack

  • Bruce

    I’m glad to see that. We need additional redlight and speed cameras in so many locations. There used to be a redlight camera at the corner of 57th and Cornell (next to the MSI) which was removed some time ago. They claimed that “people had learned their lesson” and that it was no longer needed. Now, I ride through that intersection several times each week, and it’s rare that a week goes by I don’t see at least one person blow the light, often more than a few seconds after it’s changed. I always wait at the corner for cars to stop before I walk or ride through, because they move very FAST on Cornell.

    Speaking of fast, we need some speed cameras on Cornell. The speed limit is 30 MPH. I’d be hard-pressed to see many people going under 35. Most exceed 40 and sometimes by a lot. How do I know? I drive on it as well.

  • Jeremy

    I have complained to Ald Smith’s office about that stretch of Clark between North Ave and Armitage Ave. Smart urban planning isn’t something that interests her.

  • Jeremy

    Nice timing with your comment. I took this photo 7/5/18 around 3:00.

    I agree with your idea of impounding delivery vehicles. Make Fed Ex and UPS use smaller trucks, which would lead to them hiring more drivers.

    Regarding punishing private drivers, instead of impounding vehicles or suspending licenses, I want to see them get different license plates for too many moving violations. Scarlet Letter Justice.
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/978b763d1054cc97964ef6ae70734e5876f331f72e29f3a6eb1dc136c52ceaaf.jpg

  • planetshwoop

    II agree that we can’t simply say: we should just step up enforcement. You have documented quite well that the issue is a lot more complex than that.

  • planetshwoop

    Why be so draconian? Do we expect that would solve it? Scarlet Letter Justice–really? (Like honestly, how would you even enforce that?!?)

    First, there is no reason we couldn’t consider a system like Finland. I suspect part of our society’s hesitation reflects deeply held prejudices, not more evidence based ideas.

    Second, offer a motivation to get away from trucks. Incentives to use hand-carts? Create a more clear policy around preferred delivery times? Fedex is a problem with parking, but it’s not killing people.

  • Tooscrapps

    I agree fines can be regressive and I also agree with your point about prejudices. I disagree with your point about enforcement. Just look at the reduction in speeding around schools due to speed cameras in NYC. If you increase the enforcement area, people will learn that it just doesn’t make sense to speed in the City.

    I saw a comment today about the ruling in Tennessee that they cannot revoke licences for failure to pay court costs and the like.:

    “While driving is a privilege, there is absolutely no reason to revoke that privilege other than a demonstrated inability to exercise that privilege safely.”

  • Tooscrapps

    Hey, that’s my hood! (Hampden/Wrightwood) Just look how much empty space is behind him though. Too much work to kick the truck reverse for a second? Delivery drivers drive me mad with their inability to pull to the curb!

  • BlueFairlane

    From personal observation, I’d agree about people getting off. I don’t know that I’ve seen that as much from people getting on. My personal feeling is that most drivers don’t really think about what they’re about to be doing (such as driving on an expressway) until right before they do it. So I think they speed up right at the approach, but not very far before it.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Think Speed Cameras are Traps? Try Using Your Speedometer

|
Is 20th Ward Alderman Willie Cochran’s speedometer broken? This morning, DNAinfo columnist Mark Konkol wrote that Cochran has received three tickets from the same speed camera, near the Midway Plaisance and Cottage Grove in Hyde Park. The cam is located a few blocks west of where a driver struck and injured a young girl last month. Konkol […]

The Real Reason There Are Speed Cams by Challenger Park

|
Uptown’s Challenger Playlot Park is the poster child for the anti-traffic camera crowd. Along with Mulberry Playlot Park, in the McKinley Park neighborhood, Challenger is frequently cited as a small, little-used park that’s not even visible from the locations of speed cameras that are supposedly there to protect park users. This is proof, according to […]

Trib Launches War on Speed Cams, CDOT Releases Data Showing They Work

|
The Chicago Tribune’s David Kidwell and his colleagues have written extensively about the city’s red light camera program. Some of that reporting has been constructive, including revelations about the red light cam bribery scandal, unexplained spikes in ticketing, and cameras that were installed in low-crash locations during the Richard M. Daley administration. Other aspects of the […]