Thursday, December 1, 2016

Warren aims to get rid of red-light cameras

Posted By on Thu, Dec 1, 2016 at 11:44 AM

Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren says she will submit legislation to City Council to end the city’s red-light camera program at midnight on December 31. Outstanding tickets and tickets issued up until that time would still have to be paid.

She cannot wage a fight against poverty while supporting a program that disproportionately affects the city’s poorest, Warren said at a press conference this morning. The people living in the city’s poorest ZIP codes receive the highest number of red-light tickets, she said. And a study on the effectiveness of the city’s program was inconclusive, Warren said.  (Curious: Referencing the study, the city's website says, "A study conducted by an independent engineering and consulting firm has concluded that the Red Light Camera Traffic Safety Program is preventing accidents and keeping city intersections safe. The firm has recommended that the red light camera program continue.)

“All programs have a beginning and an end, and it’s time to bring this one to an end,” she said.

The city makes $800,000-$1 million annually from red-light ticket fees.

Cynically, eliminating the program is a smart political move for a mayor heading into a re-election year. The cameras are wildly unpopular for myriad reasons, including the one that Warren cited — the lopsided effect on the poor.

People often get tickets but can't pay them, so the punishments escalate in severity and people fall farther and farther behind. Eventually they could lose access to their vehicles.

Questions have also been raised about the effectiveness of red-light cameras — critics say they’re about raising money, not promoting safety.

And there have been controversies, including accusations that some communities shortened yellow lights in order to nab more violators.

More by Christine Carrie Fien

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