Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Red Light Cameras- How Are They Doing?

Intersections around Spokane where red light cameras were installed do not appear to have had an effect on drivers' behavior. In fact, the number of accidents at those intersections are up. Here's the story from the Spokesman-Review.

I know this is opening a can of worms, but what is your opinion on the cameras? They are admittedly catching a lot of red light runners, so they're doing their job there. But do you think they will eventually help to make intersections safer?


Charles said...

I guess people still think they can run a red light and not get hit or caught. I listened to the hearings on getting the red light cameras and the main reason was to increase safety and cut down on the accidents at those corners. Maybe it will take longer to educate people that a red light means STOP. The council did put the excess money into a fund where the neighborhoods can access it for traffic calming. One of the uses for that money may be for adding bike lanes. Think Crestline will finally get the bike lane striped??

SRTC Staff said...

This is the stuff that frustrates me. How hard is it to understand green means go, yellow means slow down, and red means stop? I keep learning over and over again though why you see those education campaigns on TV that you think are pretty obvious- like the train ones. Stop for a train? Seems to make sense to me but it doesn't for a lot of people. So in the meantime, the City gets criticized for using measures such as these cameras, even though they put the money aside for something positive like traffic calming. As for your bike lanes Charles, I just put a call in to Katherine Miller at the City to ask what the latest is. Will let you know when I hear back.

Hank Greer said...

Kind of long to post here, but you can find my here.

SRTC Staff said...

Hank, I read your comments on your blog. You pulled this from the story: 'Spokane issued 5,690 camera tickets that resulted in revenue of $419,000, Fuller said. After the contracted camera company, Arizona-based American Traffic Solutions, is paid and other expenses subtracted, police estimate a profit of $103,000.'

I know they worked it out ahead of time how much the City would receive, but does that sound to anyone else like a small number to end up with when you started with $419,000?

Unknown said...

Constructing roundabouts are the best solutions to date for reducing accidents, reducing costs associated with maintaining traffic light signals, and improving traffic flow.

SRTC Staff said...

Oh David, you've just mentioned my favorite subject. If the transportation industry had an 'it girl,' it would be roundabouts right now. A few were installed throughout the area several years ago (at Wellesley and A Streets in the City of Spokane and on SR 206) and now EVERYONE wants one. Even Deer Park has one. I find this funny because for a while roundabouts were equated with the Devil's work. I personally think it was just a misunderstanding of how they work because once they proved themselves in our area they started popping up all over around here.

Roundabouts ARE good for cutting down accidents because they prevent anything but fender benders and they keep the flow of traffic going by requiring drivers to yield instead of stop at the intersection. And yes, they're significantly cheaper than installing a traffic light.

Unfortunately we can't put them everywhere (such as the locations of the photo red cameras) because they do require more space to install. So while they have their place, roundabouts don't work everywhere.

Not said...

I don't think the roundabout at Wellesley and A streets is such a great success story. It might reduce accidents at that location, but it makes it easier for cars to speed down A street to the intersection with Driscoll Boulevard, where many drivers seem to feel they have the right of way despite their stop sign. I frequently ride on Driscoll and this is one of the more frightening intersections I encounter. A solid barrier preventing southbound traffic on A from crossing Wellesley would have been a much better solution, since there are good alternatives to A street such as Alberta or Driscoll.

Also, roundabouts create a pinch point for interactions between bicycles and cars.
- Ventura

SRTC Staff said...

Thanks for the comment Ventura, I hadn't heard that about 'A' Street before, that it's a virtual drag strip. I've been up there a couple times recently but both times it was pretty late at night and traffic was very light so I didn't see the problems you mentioned. Sounds like some speed enforcement is needed in the area. If you get your neighbors or friends to all call the police department and complain, sometimes they'll do an emphasis patrol if enough people complain.

Also, you're right about roundabouts not being the best solution for bicyclists. They're also not very convenient for walkers. When I worked at the City of Spokane and the Wellesley and A roundabout had just gone in, I was working with Cable 5 to put together a public service announcement on pedestrians traversing a roundabout. And I almost got hit by a car while we were shooting the piece!

About SRTC

SRTC is the federally designated Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for Spokane County. Urbanized areas with populations exceeding 50,000 people are required to have an MPO. SRTC was formed to address the county's transportation planning needs. It provides coordination in planning between the public, cities, small towns, the county, the state, transit providers, and tribes.

SRTC offers services including transportation monitoring, transportation modeling, census information analysis, travel demand forecasting, historical traffic count analysis, geographic information systems, and trip generation rates.