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Hastily Establishing Laws for the City's Top Speed Cameras

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Chicago has got to make its money, so that our city can run. It's a business, right? Sometimes, a business like the speed camera program, has to be called out. Apparently, it issued over $2.4 million in erroneous tickets to drivers.

One of those program's cameras, on 127th Street near the Major Taylor Bike Trail, has been a profitable top performer, dolling out $4 million in fines. But it raises questions: was that entire amount fair? And should nearby residents consider getting a bicycle and drop the whole car scene?

The idea of regulating drivers started out with good intentions. People who live with small children deserve to be protected from speed demons in their neighborhoods, so they can walk to the local park and nearby schools. The 72 cameras placed around 28 Chicago schools have generated nearly 500,000 tickets and nearly $19 million in fines, but many of the 63 cameras in the so-called "Children's Safety Zone" are placed in the least likely place where young pedestrians are actually traversing. That's a red flag that means it's time to slow down and reconsider these tickets.

The Tribune found that over 33,000 tickets were assigned to cars near parks that were closed for construction or were already closed. Another 28,000 tickets were handed out in places with ambiguous or missing signage, making it difficult or impossible to be a responsible civic driver.

It's not to say that there's no need for speeding enforcement, of course. Last June, a 45-year-old male was killed by a speeding driver at 118th and Halsted. But we need to be mindful that we understand the laws of our neighborhood to fully abide by them, and to potentially consider other solutions. Areas like the intersection of 119th and Halsted seem to invite speeding. When considering an urban planning perspective, perhaps the width of the road should be taken into consideration, as wide lanes tend to invite faster speeds. These factors are all reminders that residents need to take control of the wheel.

·Emanuel's Speed Cameras Issue $2.4 million in bad tickets [Chicago Tribune]
·Many school-zone speed camera tickets issued without danger to kids, Tribune finds [Chicago Tribune]
·Speeding Driver Jumps Curb, Fatally Strikes Pedestrian in West Pullman [Streets Blog Chicago]
·Growth by Annexation – 1830-1935 [Chicagology]