MAYOR EMANUEL AND ALDERMEN ANNOUNCE CONTINUED REFORMS TO RED LIGHT CAMERA PROGRAM; Announce Removal of 50 Red Light Cameras and Ordinance that Would Continue Implementing Additional Reforms

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MAYOR EMANUEL AND ALDERMEN ANNOUNCE
CONTINUED REFORMS TO RED LIGHT CAMERA PROGRAM
Announce Removal of 50 Red Light Cameras and Ordinance
that Would Continue Implementing Additional Reforms 

As part of a continued effort to reform the red light camera enforcement program, which was enacted in 2003, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Aldermen Anthony Beale, Tom Tunney, Natashia Holmes, John Pope, George Cardenas, Lona Lane, Howard Brookins Jr. , Walter Burnett Jr., Ray Suarez, Carrie Austin, Emma Mitts, Roberto Maldonado, Deborah Graham and the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) announced today that across Chicago, 50 red light enforcement cameras at locations that have seen a significant reduction of serious crashes will be removed from operation. Mayor Emanuel and the Aldermen also announced plans to adopt a City Council ordinance to continue implementing additional reforms to the red light camera program to enhance transparency, community input, and public safety.

“Red light cameras help reduce the most dangerous crashes and allow police officers to concentrate on fighting crime, not writing traffic violations, and public trust is vital for this program to be effective,” said Mayor Emanuel. “Since taking office, I have instituted a number of reforms to the program, including firing the original vendor, removing 82 cameras at 41 intersections, working with the Inspector General to review the program, strengthening oversight, using improved technology and adding more public transparency. The reforms we are announcing today build on this work to allow for increased community input, enhanced public safety and improved transparency.”

 

As they did last year, CDOT conducted a review of crash data from the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) to determine a list of intersections recommended for removal. After reviewing the 2013 IDOT data, which is the most recent available, CDOT will this year remove 50 cameras from 25 intersections which have seen a significant reduction in angle crashes. Like the cameras removed last year, these 25 intersections experienced either no right angle crashes, one of the most dangerous types of crashes, or only one right angle crash and a “total crash rate” of less than one crash per million vehicles annually. The total crash rate is calculated by dividing the total number of crashes in a year by the annual estimated traffic counts.

 

Last year, 32 cameras were removed from operation at 16 intersections, which was the first time the total number of cameras had been reduced in the more than ten year history of the program.  All of the cameras in the program were installed prior to 2011, and Mayor Emanuel has never added a new camera to the program. In fact, with these additional removals, the Mayor has reduced the red light camera program by more than 20 percent.

 

Additionally, the Mayor and Aldermen outlined an ordinance to continue implementing additional reforms to the red light program, including:

 

  • Requiring a public community meeting before red light cameras are removed, moved or added. For instance, four of the cameras that were recommended for removal in 2013 were kept in place at the community’s request because they wanted enhanced safety brought to their neighborhood by the red light cameras. This new provision will apply to the 50 cameras that CDOT plans to remove this year.

 

  • Outlining an accelerated installation of pedestrian countdown timers at all remaining red light camera intersections without timers, finishing by June 1. Out of the 174 intersections with red light cameras, only 42 do not yet have pedestrian countdown timers, and the installation of those last 42 pedestrian countdown timers was originally scheduled to be complete by the end of the year, but the ordinance will compress that timeline. While pedestrian countdown timers are intended to provide more information to pedestrians so they know how much time they have to safely cross the street, the countdowns are sometimes used by drivers to gauge the remaining green time.
  • Providing an opportunity for first time offenders to enroll in an online safety traffic class, in lieu of paying a $100 fine.

 

“Traffic safety is a top priority for CDOT, and the red light camera enforcement program is an important piece of our overall efforts to improve public safety. Studies have consistently shown that these cameras help reduce dangerous right angle crashes, which are likely to cause serious injury or death,” said CDOT Commissioner Rebekah Scheinfeld. “These benefits have also been recognized by residents, and that’s why we will be seeking additional public input on these recommended removals this year, as last year, some communities asked to keep cameras that were recommended for removal.”

 

The 25 intersections where red light cameras will be removed are as follows. The cameras at these intersections stopped issuing tickets as of 12:01 a.m. Friday, March 6.

 

  • Ashland and 47th
  • Ashland and 63rd
  • Ashland and Archer
  • Ashland and Diversey
  • Ashland and Garfield
  • California and 31st
  • Central and Madison
  • Cicero and Stevenson Expressway
  • Cornell and 57th
  • Cottage Grove and 95th
  • Damen and Blue Island
  • Elston and Foster
  • Halsted and 63rd
  • Halsted and 83rd
  • Harlem and Northwest Highway
  • Jeffrey and 79th
  • Kimball, McCormick and Lincoln
  • Narragansett, 55th and Archer
  • Osceola and Touhy
  • Pulaski and Montrose
  • Stony Island and 83rd
  • Vincennes and 111th
  • Western Ave and 51st
  • Western, Armitage and Milwaukee
  • Western and Pratt

The City’s automated enforcement programs are only one part of the “toolbox” CDOT uses to enhance traffic safety for all Chicagoans, including:

 

  • Pedestrian refuge islands in crosswalks
  • Safety zone signage and street stencils
  • High-visibility crosswalk markings
  • Speed feedback signs
  • Speed humps
  • Traffic signal improvements
  • Curb and ramp improvements
  • Pedestrian countdown timers
  • Leading pedestrian intervals
  • In-street “Stop for Pedestrians” signs
  • Bike and Pedestrian Safety Ambassadors
  • Targeted enforcement events with Chicago Police

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