Columnist

Red-light camera shocker! Village finds devices aren't wonder cure

In Tranist

 
 
Published: 9/19/2010 12:01 AM

Construction slowdowns on I-290 between work and home were driving me mad so I switched to Route 83 last month. It's slightly better but the relentless array of red-light cameras add a whole new level of tension.

Red-light cameras. It's been a while since I wrote about them, but two intriguing developments this week makes the issue column-worthy.

Elk Grove Village, one of the biggest advocates for the controversial technology, is actually removing cameras from the intersection of Busse Road and Devon Avenue. Officials say crashes are down since the devices went up so they intend to study the intersection for 12 months. If crashes rise, they'll reinstall the cameras, if the trend continues downward, the technology will be gone for good.

Meanwhile, Lombard is nixing its one remaining red-light camera, at North Avenue and Route 53.

"We didn't see any significant statistical differences (in crashes)," Deputy Police Chief Dane Cuny said.

Originally, Lombard had cameras at two intersections. The statistics showed crashes decreased at North and Route 53 but increased at another location at Finley and Roosevelt roads.

The conflicting results convinced village leaders to yank the devices.

A Daily Herald investigation in 2009 found the vast majority of violations are for turning right on red without making a full stop - a maneuver considered much less dangerous than driving straight through. And believe me, there's nothing like receiving a $100 citation for a rolling right to make a driver see red.

"Over 95 percent of our violations were for right turns on red," said Cuny. Lombard police reviewing video of violators are instructed to be lenient toward rolling rights unless they pose an obvious hazard.

"We're not in the gotcha game," Cuny said, adding this is why the village didn't generate high numbers of tickets.

While camera companies promise new revenues and declines in deadly crashes, the hype didn't pan out for Lombard.

So what's the panacea for stopping crashes? Engineering, said Cuny, explaining safety can be as simple as highly visible traffic lights and turn lanes.

"I think roadway design is the single, most effective method of reducing dangerous locations - but we don't always have control over that," he said. "We've seen intersections that had accidents on a regular basis and once they're redesigned and improved, the accidents are significantly reduced."

Flotsam and jetsam

• Metra is revising its schedule for the UP North Line between Chicago and Kenosha. A mega construction project has riders frustrated over delays and crowded trains. New train times effective Sept. 26 can be found at metrarail.com.

• The RTA's Travel Information Center will be shut down Sept. 26 through 7 a.m. Sept. 28 due to a relocation. As an alternative for directions, try the website goroo.com.

• State Rep. Elaine Nekritz, a Northbrook Democrat, recently received the Legislator of the Year Award from the Illinois Public Transportation Association, a 60-member group, whose members include Pace and the Illinois Department of Transportation.

Incoming

• If you're pining for news of the Elgin-O'Hare Expressway extension and western bypass plan, take heart. The Illinois Department of Transportation will update you from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Itasca Holiday Inn, 860 Irving Park Road.

• Bikers can go Dutch this week. A delegation from the Netherlands is teaming up with the Active Transportation Alliance to figure out how to make the area more bike-friendly. The public is invited to a ThinkBike Workshop starting at 8:30 a.m. Thursday at the Thompson Center, 100 W. Randolph St., Chicago. For info, visit activetrans.org.

• Nothing like a good, old-fashioned plane pull. You're invited to form a team to take on a UPS Airbus Saturday at O'Hare International Airport. The Illinois Law Enforcement Torch Run Plane Pull will benefit the Special Olympics. For details and to register, check out the website illinoisplanepull.com.