Archive for the tag 'speed cameras'

A DOT speed-enforcement camera sits at this location, fining people who fail to slow down after exiting the highway. (Source: Google Maps)

A DOT speed-enforcement camera sits at this location, fining people who fail to slow down after exiting the highway. (Source: Google Maps)

While opponents of a camera-enforced speed trap on a Belt Parkway exit ramp cry foul, the Department of Transportation says “tough luck.”

The agency said it has no plans to move the speed enforcement camera placed on Shore Parkway at the end of the highway’s Ocean Parkway exit ramp, despite complaints from neighbors and a local City Council member that it’s unfair and undermines the program’s credibility.

A spokesperson for DOT would not confirm the placement of the camera, saying it’s the agency’s policy not to disclose camera locations. However, the spokesperson added that there are no plans to relocate any cameras in Southern Brooklyn.

Moreover, the spokesperson disputed the assertion that it’s a “gotcha” location, noting that the ramp is approximately 400 feet long, enough distance to slow down from highway speeds, and that a sign has been placed indicating that the speed limit is 30 miles per hour.

Violations are not issued to motorists going 10 miles or less over the speed limit, the spokesperson added.

That answer isn’t good enough, said Councilman Mark Treyger. The pol’s office has been flooded with complaints from ticket recipients and yesterday he called on the agency to move the camera closer to Ocean Parkway.

“I don’t think that [the DOT] even addressed my concern. No residents asked them to measure the length of the exit ramp,” said Treyger. “We didn’t ask them to measure how long it is. We asked them, in the interest of public safety, to move it where pedestrians are actually using [a crosswalk].”

Treyger said he’s going to appeal to the agency to reconsider the location. His office will also begin notifying residents to be aware of the camera.

The councilman, a former school teacher, said the placement of the camera does little to protect students at nearby Lincoln High School or other pedestrians, since it’s not placed near a pedestrian crosswalk.

“To my knowledge I don’t believe any pedestrians are crossing near exit ramps for highways,” Treyger said. There is no sidewalk on the highway side of Shore Parkway where the camera is placed.

By moving it just a few hundred feet up the block to the Ocean Parkway intersection, they can catch motorists who are speeding through crosswalks. The current placement instead has the appearance of enforcement for revenue-generating purposes, the pol suggested.

“The goal of the speed cameras is to protect public safety and make sure people are abiding by laws. But when you place them in these ‘gotcha’ locations it really threatens to undermine the credibility of this program. We want to save lives, but ‘gotcha’ locations in my opinion don’t accomplish that goal,” he said.

Clarification (3:00 p.m.): The camera itself is in Councilman Chaim Deutsch’s district, not Treyger’s – although many affected by it are in Treyger’s district. We are reaching out to Deutsch’s office as well.

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Neighbors are crying foul over what appears to be a high-tech speed trap, after learning that the Department of Transportation placed a speed enforcement camera where they say speeding is unavoidable.

The camera is placed adjacent to Lincoln High School on Shore Parkway, between West Avenue and Ocean Parkway. It’s perched just above where the Belt Parkway exit ramp leads into the service road – catching drivers while they’re still decelerating from highway speeds.

“This camera seems to be conveniently placed so close to the exit ramp that you are almost guaranteed to set off this speed trap,” said neighbor Connie C., who was shocked to find a $50 ticket in the mail for a July 22 drive past the location. “[It's] positioned right in between the exit ramp and the entrance ramp, so basically they have you either way. As you are accelerating to get onto the ramp to enter the highway or coming off the highway at 50mph. I thought is seemed quite fishy.”

(UPDATE [September 4, 2014]: The DOT will not relocate the camera. Read that story here.)

Approximate location of the camera, between the exit and entrance ramps. (Source: Google Maps)

Approximate location of the camera, between the exit and entrance ramps. (Source: Google Maps)

Connie, who said she generally supports the use of speed cameras, isn’t the only neighbor to notice. Councilman Mark Treyger’s office said they’ve received numerous complaints and the pol is outraged at the apparent money grab.

“The role of speed cameras is to reduce speeding and increase safety in appropriate locations around our neighborhood. They should not be placed in locations like the start of an exit ramp because this ‘gotcha’ location plays into fears of many that these cameras are solely revenue generating machines,” said Treyger.

The pol is urging the DOT to move the camera closer to Ocean Parkway, where they’ll have more time to slow down after exiting the highway.

“Speed cameras can have an important role to play in our efforts to eliminate fatalities on city streets, but placing them in highly questionable locations threatens to undermine this program’s credibility,” he said.

Per a report this week, there are 23 active speed cameras operating near school intersections. They’ve issued 183,000 tickets since the first cameras came online in January. That number is about to skyrocket to 140 total speed cameras after Albany approved the expansion earlier this year.

The Department of Transportation did not return a request for comment on this article. The DOT said they will not move the camera, as the 400-foot-long ramp provides enough room to slow down safely.

Source: NYCIBO

Source: NYCIBO

While the news that New York City will expand speed camera enforcement across the five boroughs was met with conspiratorial sneering from local drivers, revenue data suggests that the overall amount of funds collected for traffic fines has declined every year for the past four years despite the expansion of camera-enforcement programs.

That’s not to say there’s not money being made: the city pulled in more than $55 million in fiscal year 2014 (which ended on June 30), and 75 percent of that was from camera-based enforcement. The city budget for 2015 already presumes a jump to $62 million in revenue, with an even larger percentage coming from camera enforcement.

The New York City Independent Budget Office released a new infographic yesterday that charts the amount of revenue collected from traffic fines from 1999 to the present, and also shows the share of those collections that came via police-issued violations, red-light cameras, bus-lane cameras and the newest enforcement tool: speed cameras.

Some of the takeaways?

  • The proportion of revenue generated by cameras has grown from just 38 percent in 1999 to 75 percent in 2014.
  • The amount of revenue in 2014 is nearly double that collected in 1999. (Adjusted for inflation, the jump is less stark; the increase is just under $13 million.)
  • Since 2004, actual revenue from police-issued traffic violations has been on a steady decline, marginally offsetting some of the increases from camera enforcement.
  • Red-light camera revenues are the lowest they’ve been since 2007, the year before a massive expansion of the program, suggesting that camera enforcement won’t drive revenues forever.

There are two big spikes in the graph, one in 2008 and another in 2011.

The first coincided with an increase in the number of red light cameras installed around the city. After the increase, there’s a drop again. That’s probably because once drivers figure out where the cameras are, they make sure to abide by the law.

The 2011 spike came as a result of a ruling that unpaid red light summonses can count towards the threshold needed for the city to tow your car for unpaid tickets. Delinquent motorists who saw their cars impounded had to pay back those fines that year to reclaim their vehicles.

The two newest forms of camera revenue are also seeing pretty rapid growth as drivers have yet to adjust to them. Bus-lane cameras were introduced in 2011 as part of the Select Bus Service program. As that program has steadily expanded across the five boroughs, so has the number of cameras, and thus the number of violations.

Speed cameras were introduced in early 2014, with just 20 in school zones around the city. That led to $2.1 million in fines collected. But the program has been approved for massive expansion, with 120 new cameras on the way.

The city is projecting it will put $7.6 million in city coffers, but if the historical spikes from the expansion of red light cameras are any indication, it’ll probably rake in more than that before falling off over a few years.

So is it about money? It’s anybody’s guess. There’s definitely a historical increase in revenues collected but it’s not as staggering as one would think, given the massive expansion of these programs. And the data here suggests the gains appear short-lived as drivers learn to follow the rules of the road.

Here’s the above chart in an interactive format. Hover over each of the bars to see how much actual revenue was received for each method:

Source: formulanone/Flickr

Mayor Bill de Blasio yesterday unveiled the 63-points of his Vision Zero proposal aimed at eliminating pedestrian deaths, and some of the steps make Michael Bloomberg look like a Detroit industry lobbyist.

De Blasio’s plan pushes a citywide reduction of the speed limit to 25 miles per hour from the current 30, as well as the installation of more speed and red light cameras, more cops focused on moving violations, and – everyone’s favorites – more speed bumps, bike lanes and possibly pedestrian plazas across the five boroughs.

It’s not all bad news for me-first drivers; the plan also calls for widening parking lanes to keep delivery vehicles out of travel lanes, and investigating an automated system that would penalize taxicabs by pausing their meters if the driver exceeds the speed limit. They’re also looking at improving street lighting at more than 1,000 intersections.

Here’s some background from the New York Times:

Some of the mayor’s proposals — like lowering the citywide speed limit to 25 miles per hour from 30 and expanding the installation of red-light and speed-tracking cameras that issue tickets — require approval in the state capital, where the administration is asking lawmakers to approve a tax increase on the city’s top earners to finance prekindergarten programs.

Though the Bloomberg administration pressed the Legislature for years, with mixed success, to approve the expansion of automated enforcement cameras, Mr. de Blasio predicted “a receptive audience in Albany” this time around.

Pursuing jaywalkers will not remain a part of the plan, de Blasio noted, although the city has issued 215 summonses for jaywalking in a little over a month, compared to 27 over the same period last year.

More cops are also proposed, particularly to crack down on bad turning. amNY reports:

Citing police statistics that speeding and “inappropriate turning” were to blame in 70% of pedestrian fatalities, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said the department would increase the number of officers devoted to deterring bad driving and investigating crashes.

There are about 250 pedestrians deaths and 4,000 serious injuries a year, the report says.

Some more stats from the Wall Street Journal:

Since Mr. de Blasio took office Jan. 1, more than 20 people have been killed in traffic crashes, he said. In 2013, according to a preliminary tally, there were 286 traffic deaths, a 3% increase from 2012 and a 15% increase from 2011.

On a related note, the city doled out nearly 4,000 speeding tickets since the installation of speed cameras last month, the mayor said.

The Department of Transportation mapped out the speed of cars in areas near schools where

Well, the day has come. Starting today, speed cameras placed near schools throughout the city will begin ticketing people who are driving above the speed limit in school zones, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced yesterday.

City officials won’t release the locations of the new cameras, which were installed last September after New York State lawmakers passed a bill authorizing it. The “safety measure,” as the city is calling it, has been something former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration tried to pass for more than a decade, according to a city website.

As we reported last year, the bill is a five-year pilot program and it allows 20 cameras to be installed. As of today, the city installed six of them in the fall, but did not issue fines – only warnings. Now the cameras will issue $50 tickets for those who go faster than the 20 mile-per-hour limit of slow zones near schools.

The 20 cameras will be rotated around 100 schools that the Department of Transportation deemed to be danger zones based on their studies and findings. While the location of the cameras at any given time will remain a mystery, the list of target schools is available here.

“The cameras are mobile so we’ll be able to move them around and address high-speed locations that may change over time,” former Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan previously told WNYC. “Any school where there’s excessive speeding will be fair game. One of the deterrents is that people don’t necessarily know where they are.””

De Blasio also supports the “home rule,” which would allow the city to install cameras at their own discretion without having to wait for Albany to pass anything, a source of contention for the last mayor.