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

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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!

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