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Added Mar 13 2012

I wrote in to Alderman Pawar's office today regarding the utter lack of credible information surrounding Rahm's speed cameras. I'm quite happy with the response (see below):

"Hello again,

Without actual data, from the Mayor’s office, on traffic accidents involving pedestrians around schools and parks, Alderman Pawar will vote NO on the speed camera ordinance. To date, the Alderman has not received any information to suggest there is a problem that speed cameras are needed to fix. In addition, has asked for the administration to provide data that shows speed cameras reduce traffic accidents involving pedestrians. Our office continues to solicit feedback from the community on this ordinance so thank you for your input.


Bill Higgins
Program Analyst & Coordinator"

Whether or not you feel speed cameras are necessary, I think we can all agree that Rahm's unwillingness to provide adequate information to even make an informed decision makes it much more dubious a request. I might support them if he could show actual, certifiable data that they will reduce traffic fatalities involving children in Chicago, but considering he won't even release any info, and considering the Tribune's repeatedly denied FOIA requests for said information, I'm glad that Alderman Pawar has decided to vote NO.

Thanks also to Bill for responding to my question today. I'm sure you've been bombarded about this quite a bit given the council meeting tomorrow and I'm glad you took the time!

  • Steve J -A Chicago original since 1968-

    How DARE Pawar defy Dear Leader.
    He better vote yes on this lest he be shipped off to Siberia....


  • Bob Kastigar 15 Years North Park, bike rider, retired

    Wouldn't you get your car fixed by someone you know, someone you trust, someone who has helped you?

    Wouldn't you buy your meat and groceries from someone you know, someone you trust, one of your friends?

    Go ahead - suggest someone you know who could install the speed cameras.

    The majority elected the Mayor - it's only the minority that now doesn't trust him.

    Just as it's the silent majority that supports speed cameras to make our streets safer for all - pedestrians, seniors, kids, bicyclists.

    Don't speed and you won't get a ticket.

  • Jim A - As a transportation engineer, I would say that messing with yellow times is not the solution to any problem. People have expectations with yellow times, and if we go messing with those expectations, he can be dangerous for everyone.

    I am neither vehemently in favor or opposed to the speed cameras, after all, if you follow the rules you have nothing to worry about. I never understood why people get so upset when a government decides to actually enforce rules that have always been around. Given that speed cameras such as these have not been widely used yet, there will be little to no data stating that they are either effective or ineffective at increasing safety. But there is a slew of data out there that shows that people do not respect school zone speed limits. I have not gone looking myself, but the first place I would look is

  • Steve J -A Chicago original since 1968-

    "Don't speed and you won't get a ticket."

    WHAT !?!

    Is it ok if I sit outside your North Park home and use my digital scanner to listen to your phone calls?

    If you have nothing to hide, you'd be ok with me listening, RIGHT?

  • The "getting my car fixed by someone I know" can be ---despite the BEST of intentions--the rationale of all political patronage. My car guy might be great. Despite the fact that he's my Uncle. He's a great mechanic. I trust him. He wouldn't ever screw me. But when the new shop opens up down the street with a better, cheaper and faster mechanic, I never even both to look---cause my Uncle takes care of me.

    The next line of defense is "Well, that's human nature." So are lots of things. But does that make them right?

    Then you hear, "That's why we have competitive bidding." Really? Let me know when that starts.

    The final refuge is the "You must be in favor of putting kids in danger!" Which is pure political rhetoric. It leads us back in a circle to the Alderman's point: "Where's the data Mr. Mayor?"

    Produce it and the argument is over.

  • @Steve, those things aren't even close to being the same thing. And your reactionary post only further proves my point. I am glad you are passionate about the issue, and as I said before I am neither in favor nor opposed to the law, but people taking the issue to the extreme seems a little over the top to me. It would be like me saying "if you are against the speeding cameras, then you are okay with people going 50 mph through the school zones". I am sure this is not the case for you nor anyone else who is against the law.

  • Steve J -A Chicago original since 1968-

    Fans of the speed cameras are probably involved with the Traffic Safety Coalition, a pro-camera group run by close Emanuel political ally Greg Goldner and funded by Redflex Traffic Systems Inc

    AND Redflex is a foreign corporation...

    Bob, you own Redflex stock ?

  • Steve J -A Chicago original since 1968-

    Ryan, did you know Chicago Police aren't allowed to carry binoculars and or use them?

    Why? Because you are deemed to be safe and sound in the confines of your home. A cop cannot peer into your home in search of a crime. Its an invasion of privacy.

    These speed cams will have pan, tilt & zoom. These cams will be on RESIDENTIAL streets.

    What is to stop the City from turning that camera towards your front windows??

  • @Steve, I would imagine passionate citizens such as yourself would stop them. But what makes you think they would ever have the desire to do such a thing? One reason they are installing the cameras is there are simply not enough officers available, so what makes you think they would want to take the time to do that.

    Correct me if I am wrong, but the cameras are not continuously operated by a person. The security camera at 7-11 may have the same capabilities, but that is only so it can be positioned correctly and they don't have to produce different cameras for different situations. Not so they can go peeking in peoples windows.

  • @Ryan

    Police will not be looking at these camera feeds. Private contractors who are not accountable to the public will.

  • Bob Kastigar 15 Years North Park, bike rider, retired

    Steve J. - Thank you for the information about the Traffic Safety Coalition:

    Their annual report:

    Where did you get the information that this Traffic Safety Coalition is run by Redflex? Could you supply a source or reference for that information? Where did you find this out?

    No, I don't own stock in Redflex.

    ...and don't speed to avoid getting tickets. With or without the cameras.

  • @Bob

    See the article here:,0,2221371,full.story

    "Most of the firm's work on the issue is done through the Traffic Safety Coalition, a group it created with funding from Redflex that seeks to establish support across the country by forging relationships with law enforcement, pedestrian-friendly groups and relatives of pedestrians killed by errant drivers. The coalition pushes for new camera laws, defends against regional uprisings to ban cameras and produces gut-wrenching video testimonials about fatal crashes."

  • Jim A Sic Semper Canis

    @ Ryan W

    Increasing yellow times seems to have worked in St Louis:

    And Dallas

    And Dalton, Georgia:

    According to this study done in Philadelphia lengthening yellows could be effective:

    As a transportation engineer you might find this interesting:

    I drive through four other municipalities on my way to and from work and so my expectations for yellow light timing are already shot. In any event, longer yellow times allow for a greater margin for error in this regard as well.

  • Bob Kastigar 15 Years North Park, bike rider, retired

    Why all the Tribune quotes? The Tribune ENDORSED this legislation back in November - but the link won't return the endorsement any more, probably too old.,0,7199856.story

    "Speeding cameras: Go, governor"

    Tribune editorial endorsing speed cameras.

  • Jim A Sic Semper Canis
  • @Jim, thanks for the info. Glad to see you are actually well read on the issue.

  • Jim A Sic Semper Canis


    Thanks for being a class act in our discussion.

  • jeff f life time neighborhood resident

    I thank Alderman Pawar for his stance and asking the mayor to prove his thesis about child safety. It truely shows a proper concern for transparent government.

    An article I read in the recent past, by a neighborhood paper I beleive, questioned parents what they would like to see about traffic safety around schools. Almost every parent questioned said they would like to see portable cameras to caputure violators at school area stop signs, none responded by asking for speed cameras, telling I think.

    There also has to be a response we can believe by the Mayor concerning the contractor selected to run any camera program run by the city since contract rigging seems to be alive and well in the city. Recently, a story was done on a contractor who bid and won the contract for repairing expansion joints at O'Hare. It seems that the specs were written for only one contractor to win the contract, this recounted by another well known large contractor who read the specs and spent no more effort to bid the contract. Daley style/Chicago style.

    I would urge Alderman Pawar to hold his ground, ask the question about the data showing the need, share the info with the residents of the ward and the city. And as this journey continues, about using safety concerns to generate revenue, that the city council reserves control over letting these contracts out to the council itself, and let's turn the page on bid rigging in this town.

  • Sean Zick Live and work in the 47th ward

    An easy one for the Alderman!! Too bad there isn't a Veggie Garden opening up and he can cut the ribbon. Wheee......

  • CJL ...

    Russ: "over 80% of Chicagoans DON'T want speed cameras"

    Based on ...? What? The people you know?

    I'm unaffiliated with any thing/body/group that might profit from the speed cameras, but support them whether the purpose is 100% safety or 99.9% revenue raising. CHOOSING to drive the speed limit sure beats having non-optional taxes/fees being raised.

    And yes, I would most certainly have to adjust my driving habits, as I am a chronic, fairly unrepentent, speeder.

  • @CJLane

    That's based on the feedback that was given to Governor Quinn's office about this bill.

    I don't mind changing my driving habits if I have to. But to say that speed cameras are for the "safety of the children"--when the overall statistical base claims otherwise--is dubious at best. There is just too much evidence against this bill right now, and the fact that Rahm seems to want us to all shut up and accept his will without releasing these studies (or acknowledging the contradicting national statistics) is about as Chicago Corrupt as you can get. Especially considering he ran on a platform of ending corruption and increasing transparency in the Mayor's office.

  • @Russ
    People RARELY call/write/email about bills they are in support of. The vast majority of the calls that politicians get about bills are those that are opposed. Those in favor of this bill don't need to call and support it as it looked from the beginning that it would be adopted. So this method cannot really be used to measure public sentiment on the topic. To be honest this is the kind of issue that would never pass if up for a vote. NOT because the majority are not in favor of it, but only those who are opposed would be the ones that care enough to vote on the matter.

  • @Ryan

    What is your statistical evidence supporting that claim? I'm not sure it's fair to shoot down my statistical evidence with another unproven claim. It's commonly said that people complain about bad service more than they praise it, but the sheer number of positive reviews on sites like Amazon and Yelp shows that people will take the time to show support for something if they like it.

    So far the studies done have been performed by a PAC with a clear financial connection to Redflex, which makes it pretty hard to say there wasn't any bias. Again, I follow factual evidence, and if it can be shown that, statistically speaking, Illinois favors this bill, AND there are independent studies proving that speed cameras will make more than a marginal improvement in safety, I'm all for it.

  • @Russ

    Complaints may be statistical evidence, but they can by no means be interpreted to be representative of the population, that is my point. Review sites like Amazon and Yelp are far different, as those individuals spent money on a product, and wish to tell other people their opinion on that product (also can probably not be interpreted to be representative of the population, but are a lot closer). Sure, tax dollars are being used to pay for traffic cameras, but that's psychologically not the same as spending your own money.

    Someone has to pay for the studies you are referring to, so it is very hard to have completely independent studies on the matter. Those in favor will fund studies, just as those who oppose. Hopefully we can at least get several studies from both sides to compare. The tough thing is that these have not really been used a whole lot yet nationwide, so there is not a lot of studies/evidence after they have actually been installed. Someone has to be first.

  • @Ryan

    Thanks for clearing up your point. While we don't have many studies in the US, i wonder if there are more in Europe where speed cameras are much more prevalent?

  • Steven Vance Urban planner

    Thank you Russ for posting Alderman Pawar's email response to your question about his support of speed cameras. I have the same concerns that he does (the mayor not releasing the data).

    I also have a concern about what Alderman Waguespack told The Expired Meter, that the cameras will be used 24/7 for surveillance:

    @Ryan W.: I've done some reading of speed camera research and posted my findings on my blog, Grid Chicago. The post is likely outdated now that the ordinance was introduced (just yesterday, 3/14/12), but the links to resources and research remain relevant:

  • The Crusty Pirate Old crotchety pirate captain (retired)

    As anyone can see - even a land-lover - this is 'bout collectin' gold coins for the crown !

    En ef' ya don' mind bein' lied to agin' - then - by all means - vote yes.

  • Ryan W. said: "One reason they are installing the cameras is there are simply not enough officers available, so what makes you think they would want to take the time to do that."

    So here's a thought: Why not use the revenues collected by the cameras to hire more police officers? That would ACTUALLY keep streets safer for children. But they aren't gonna do that are they? The money will go into a general fund aka someone's back pocket.

    I don't understand how EVERYONE isn't offended by Rahm's lies and how he's trying to push another agenda on the backs of "poor, unsafe" children. Give me a break. At least don't lie about it. He wants the money, and he's scratching his friend's back.

  • Bob Kastigar 15 Years North Park, bike rider, retired

    christos, could you be a little more specific about who's back pocket money from the general fund is going to? Do you have any real, certifiable examples?

    Or are you just using another excuse to complain about the speed cameras again?

    The ordinance hasn't been passed. It was introduced at the last city council meeting and assigned to the Committee of Public Safety (of which Ald. Laurino of the 39th Ward is the Chairman). The committee will report back to the city council and the final vote on it hasn't been scheduled yet.

    Why all the complaining about who Rahm hires to install the cameras? Wouldn't you give it to your friends if you were mayor? Who cares who gets it as long as the job is done right?

    Rather than just rant, give us some examples of malfeasance that you're complaining about.

  • This sounds so reasonable "Wouldn't you give it to your friends if you were mayor? Who cares who gets it as long as the job is done right? "

    Maybe explaining why its so wrong is not possible. i tried and couldn't do it.

    It has to do with understanding how something happens is just important as the result. And lots of folks think that's just BS.

    Like for example Blago. He thought "Wouldn't you give it to your friends if you were governor? Who cares who gets it as long as the job is done right?"

    And so he sits in a Colorado prison---still not thinking he did anything wrong.

  • Bob Kastigar 15 Years North Park, bike rider, retired

    "t has to do with understanding how something happens is just important as the result. And lots of folks think that's just BS."

    As I understand it, after the specifications have been determined about what, precisely, needs to be done it will be put out for bidding.

    Maybe he'll just post a message on EveryBlock: "Does anybody recommend someone for installing speed-cameras?" That would get a lot of responses!

  • And if he did that, maybe somebody could do it better, cheaper and faster than his uncle/friend.

    Course he's put calls for input on the web twice that I know of. Once for his transition team. Once for his ethics sub committee.

    And I know first hand he's ignored responses that do not come from his inner circle.

    So if he actually has the integrity to do what he says he will do?

    And gets beyond is very tight circle of friends to do what's best for the city?

    I'll be the first guy to stand up and start applauding.

  • CJL ...

    " I know first hand he's ignored responses that do not come from his inner circle."

    And I know first hand that the guv's office, the alderman's office, my state rep's and state seantor's offices, etc, etc, etc. have ignored responses from me, too.

    What's the point? That our republic doesn't always take the advice of individual citizens? That they should do better than canned, non-responses that are only vaguely related to the actual issues we present to them?

    "So if he actually has the integrity to do what he says he will do?"

    Name three examples of things that actually can be accomplished by a mayor of Chicago, in 10 months, without additional money which were (1) promised by Rahm, and (2) not even started.

    "And gets beyond [h]is very tight circle of friends to do what's best for the city?"

    He has to do both? What if what's best for the city (yeahyeah, I know it's not true, but bear with it) is that he keeps everything within the inner circle? I swear the guy could cure cancer, cut taxes, balance the budget, turn CPS into the best school system in the world, and most of the people complaining about his *process* of getting there would still be complaining. It's like everyone was too scared to challenge Daley and because Rahm isn't perfect, he gets fileted for not being *enough* better than his presecessor.

  • CJ--You sound pretty angry. If you see my observation as a filet, then there's nothing I could add.

    Speculating on the good that could come out of keeping power in the inner circle and citizen input outside that circle is something where I wouldn't be of too much help.

    So I'll bow out of this exchange,

  • Matt Maldre Lincoln Square artist

    I'll just say as a pedestrian, I see cars running red lights all the time at Oakley and Lawrence. As a pedestrian I've learned to be cautious for speeders. However, I do find a particular joy whenever I see a flash go off at those camera intersections for people who run through a red light.

    @jeff f makes a great point, and well-stated, that Pawar should investigate further about if these helps to improve safety and if we move forward on the cameras, the process on picking the contract.

    As a pedestrian, I'm a fan of the cameras. I'm sorry car drivers, that's just my perspective.

  • The Crusty Pirate Old crotchety pirate captain (retired)

    Arrr ! Dem spy boxes got nothing to do wit' speedin' - 'cept maybe - speedin' off to the bank with a bag full o' yer loot !

    Any pirate kin see - an even a half-blind land lover - ets just 'bout gittin' yer gold coins.

    Shiver me timbers - indeed !

  • CJL ...

    "You sound pretty angry."

    Very, very mild ad hominem, but ad hominem none the less.

    Sorry I used your post as the jumping off point for that, but it seemed a perfect example of the drumbeat of demands that Rahm be a miracle worker, rather than a mayor trying to fix problems festering from 25 years (yea, really 125 years) of crony- and patronage-based mismanagement which, no matter what any of us may want, just ain't gonna happen in a year.

    Sure, it would be nice if he could used a consensus-based process to do *exactly* what I want, but guess what? Someone is *always* going to be unhappy in the political reality that is Chicago.

    Complain away, please, indeed, I insist. But be aware that when it slides into the "Rahm is a [whatever] who does [whichever] without [however]" and the best anyone can do for an example is that he relies on close advisers (as the leader of any large organization SHOULD do) and that he uses the "best" reason available to promote a new policy (which any non-idiot WOULD do), it provides Rahm's administration with all-too-easy cover to poke holes in that, and completely ignore the genuine, hard to brush aside, complaint (which is what everyone DOES do--as evidenced by the "you're angry, so I don't want to discuss it" apporach).

  • CJL ...

    Matt: "As a pedestrian, I'm a fan of the cameras. I'm sorry car drivers, that's just my perspective."

    As a (daily) car driver, (daily) pedestrian and (occasional) bike rider, I'm a fan of the cameras.

    As a tax payer, I'm a fan of the cameras.

    As a recipient of a camera ticket, I find it preferable to an interaction with the police for the same violation--it's no more expensive, doesn't get reported (dmv/insurance) without having to do stupid traffic school, and takes less time. Plus, then there are fewer cops assigned to traffic duty.

  • jeff f life time neighborhood resident

    Another story of clout, even in the Rahm age of transparent government


  • painhertz butterknife ninja

    More cameras. More tickets. Stop speeding and running red lights and you won't have anything to worry about. I'm all for cracking down on scofflaws.

  • DGA

    No that I am a speed demon or any of the such. I have not had a speeding ticket in over 25 years but I am not in support of the speed cameras. Speed is adjusted naturally by conditions. Why force a slower speed at 10am in a Tuesday morning on lets say Lawrence or on Foster when there are no kids on the street because they are in school? Oh and just for the record I have never had a red light ticket either.

  • CJL ...

    "Why force a slower speed at 10am in a Tuesday morning"

    Then there should be dynamic speed limits. And even if we had dynamic speed limits, everyone should *still* abide by the speed limits (no, I don't; I *am* a bit of a speed demon; but I'd slow down if there were--and do when there is--a reasonable likelihood of being caught, so don't see the cameras as digging into my pocket).

    And if the speed limit doesn't really matter, why bother with stop signs and lights, if there's nobody around? And one ways, who needs them, if there isn't someone coming the other way.

    Let's just prohibit traffic enforcement altogether--seems like it must be naturally policing.

  • DGA

    @CJLANE - The natural speed limit is 25 to 30 on those two streets when kids are not there. Do not take my post and turn it into something else that was not mentioned at all. Thanks for not doing it again.

  • jeff f life time neighborhood resident

    3 people are sitting around talking, speaking about the state of the country. 1 says its going to hell in a hand bag, another says government is too big and in my face to much. The third says things are pretty much the same, but there are areas to improve, but I want to know what facts are there out there to support any change. This and this alone should be the content of the camera decision before the city council.

    I read some of these posts and am just amazed at some peoples willingness to control, or wish to control others for really no reason, with no facts.Has there been an uptick in hit and run accidents involving children in and around parks and schools? Show me and I will support the measure if it is crony free and not designed to just generate revenue.

    But as we turn over our so called security to cameras and vendors, we should note just how much violent crime is committed with cars, and now we are asking not to have police pull over people who speed, and have a camera do their work. I have not read of a camera that can toss a car's contents, see if a driver is under the influence, or carrying cargo and items which the individual driver can prove is their's.

    A camera can record the make and color of a car, but more often then not, not the driver, and with out that, we have no security and no control.

    If you are so concerned about our children and safety, put more crossing guards out there, put portable camera's at troubled crossings, have the police show a greater presence.

    And if camera's are the only solution that small minds can wrap around, let's get license plates for bikes and pedestrians also, because they also are part of the problem.

  • Sean Zick Live and work in the 47th ward

    As we all know from reading and watching the news, we have a problem with police protection. So the Mayor wants to install cameras by the schools to protect the little pedestrians and family members that are in those areas. Let's ask ourselves how many times we have seen children killed by folks who don't give a damn. But HEY, let's talk about "greenways" and slow down traffic in the neighborhoods that are capable of handling larger volumes of traffic and spend a fortune on those projects:

    The Alderman needs to start to focus on whats good for everyone and stop fighting with the Mayor, this is a traffic issue that makes sense

  • DGA

    As I understand this is for speed and speed only. This will not catch offenders that are not speeding in zones. If it was for the reason you state it would have been bought out long ago. This will work like the red light cameras and only go off when there is a car speeding in a certain zone.

  • Sean Zick Live and work in the 47th ward

    @DGA - Agreed and that was my point as well. I see alot of speeding going on and I think the Mayor is on the right track. For me, as I stated in the last post, we almost seem to forget that we are undermanned by at least 3-4 thousand officers and if we can get technology to work in these cases, then perhaps the manpower will be better spent on dealing with gangs. We have reached 100 deaths so far and thousands of shootings in this city.

    So to the people who wants facts, well, the reality is there. Are you with making things safer for the community or are you with political Juxtaposition?

  • The Crusty Pirate Old crotchety pirate captain (retired)

    Arrr ... Dats why me boat stays anchored in the harbor. Not worth sailin' around these parts. Suppose it forces a pirate to shop 'fer 'is rum close to port. I'll only lift anchor anymore if I'm goin' to deep waters. Too many 'elected' pirates 'round these local waters - boardin' me ship an lootin' me gold chest.

  • Joan M. Back in Lincoln Square and liking it.

    "And if the speed limit doesn't really matter, why bother with stop signs and lights, if there's nobody around?"


    And if you've ever driven (or taken the white-knuckle flight in the backseat of the car) in certain other countries in Central or South America, for instance, you'll discover that that is indeed the attitude of many drivers. And they've got the accident statistics to prove it!

  • DGA

    Hopefully those drivers are already being caught at the existing red light camera intersections. I know I have been in cabs where I was not sure I would get to my destination accident free.

    Let me clarify something, If these cameras for being used like the blue light cameras I would be all in favor of it. Additionally, if a traffic issue did arise, and there were blue light carmeras then hopefully the offender would be caught if the chose to run and if some other altercation occured on the property then if could be used for that also. I would be in favor of that.

    Heck while we are at is why don't we put a carmera on every block. Anslie from Wolcott to Western would be a good area to start with. The cars roll stop at the intersections and slam on the gas til the next stop sign we they do the rolling stop again. Well I guess it is not quite to Western as there are speed humps in from of the church and school. So up to Oakley it is a race to see who can get from Western to Wolcott the faster.

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