The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

"Thar's Gold in Them Thar Speedin' Cam'ras!"

By Chuck Sudo in News on Nov 8, 2011 3:30PM

Image Credit: -Tripp-

Mayor Rahm Emanuel is putting on a full court press in Springfield to pass legislation allowing speeding cameras to cover nearly half of the city. Yesterday Emanuel took to the media to frame his lobbying for the cameras as a safety issue.

Emanuel made his argument yesterday in front of a giant wall of video monitors at the city's 911 center displaying live feeds from red light cameras. That's what we call "controlling the message."

"While we're speaking, Diamond Robinson, who was hit by a car near a school … they're actually having her funeral," Emanuel said. "That is a reminder of what we're talking about today and the full price and consequences of what we're talking about today."

If it seems as though the mayor is going out of his way to emphasize this is a safety issue, it's because our friends at The Expired Meter, along with CBS 2, reported yesterday the revenue from speeding cameras could eclipse that of the red light cameras already in place.

The Chicago Department of Transportation conducted three studies since 2006. The most recent, from April 1 to May 31 of this year, documented the number of cars that sped through seven approaches at intersections with red light cameras. Here's what they found.

"The study monitored the speed of vehicles only during weekdays from 6 AM to 11 AM and then from noon until 4 PM. During the nine hours per day over the course of 43 days, cameras recorded 1,418,797 vehicles passing through the seven approaches.

"While the city’s report said nearly 26% of all vehicles were exceeding the speed limit, under the proposed law tickets would only be issued if the driver exceeds 5 mph, which drops that percentage to 9% or 131,034 vehicles.

"In other words, if speed cameras were enforcing during this two month period, 131,034 drivers would have been issued tickets totaling $13.1 million in fines."

Here's another aspect of the speeding camera legislation: if passed by the Illinois House, it would allow speed camera enforcement from 6 a.m. - 10 p.m. five school days a week, instead of the current nine hours. Safety zones around park districts would be monitored an hour before a park opens and an hour after it closes. At $100 a ticket, that would be a boon to the city's coffers.