2 Investigators: Some Profitable Speed Cameras Are Nowhere Near Schools, Parks

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(CBS) — Speed Cameras in the city are designed to slow down traffic and make it safer for children crossing streets near parks and schools. But critics tell 2 Investigator Pam Zekman some of the cameras are nothing more than money-makers for the city.

Some locations are obvious — like ones directly across from schools and busy parks. But the location of some of the city’s most profitable speed cameras beg the question: What are they really for?

Businessman Peter Patel says customers are constantly complaining about the a speed camera located near his store on Lawrence Avenue.

“I did not see any park around this camera,” says Ayubiu Khan, the owner of a nearby car repair shop who is mad about the $100 tickets he has gotten.

He thinks the cameras are all about “money, plain and simple,” he says.

They are complaining about two of the most active speed cameras in the city. City officials say they were placed on the Northwest side to protect children walking to a from a tiny play lot known as Ashmore Park.

The camera at 4831 W. Lawrence has already issued 18,806 tickets so far this year. That makes it the fifth most active speed camera in the city.

The second camera is at 4909 North Cicero, right along the Edens Expressway. It’s the No. 1 ticket producer for the city, issuing 51,075 tickets so far this year. That’s $1.7 million dollars in revenue for the city.

“I believe it’s a revenue-generating tool,” says Mike Brockway, a consumer advocate and traffic blogger. He believes the cameras do little to protect children.

“I’m sure people are asking, ‘Where’s this park? Is it right on the expressway?’” he says.

In reality, it’s a couple of blocks south and one block west of Cicero Avenue.

And for the speed camera on Lawrence to be effective, children would have to walk through a car wash and down and alley to get to the Ashmore playlot that has an entrance on Gunnison.

“It makes no sense to me,” says 45th Ward Ald. John Arena. “The park is literally an excuse to put the speed camera there, there’s no denying that.”

Arena says alderman have very little input regarding where the speed cameras are installed.

“People feel like we’re grabbing money, not trying to solve the traffic issue,” Arena says.

Another top-performing speed camera at a questionable location is the one at 10318 S. Indianapolis. There’s no school or park with children at risk, just a nearby bike trail.

It’s issued 17,993 tickets this year, collecting $1 million from drivers.

Ald. Arena says the speed cameras “shouldn’t be the only solution and it shouldn’t be just to generate revenue.”

Michael Claffey, a spokesperson for the Chicago City Department of Transportation, says a state law allows speed cameras within one-eighth of a mile of Child Safety Zones. The city, he says, has speed cameras in 61 of the 1,500 such zones in Chicago.

In a written statement, he explained that the city “prioritizes the zones based on the number of crashes, the number of crashes involving fatalities and serious injuries, bicycle and pedestrian crashes, crashes involving high speed or young people.”

The decision to place speed cameras at the locations highlighted in one report was based on an examination of crash data between 2009 and 2012. The zones “ranked highly in the ratings of dangerous Child Safety zones based on crash data,” the statement said.

“Traffic safety data shows that speed cameras are successful in reducing the incidence of speeding,” the city said.

 

Speed Issued – Top 5 –
2013 thru 2015

ISSD_YR

ST_NUM

ST_DIR

ST_NM

SPD_CAMERA_ID

NBR_TCKTS

2013

4124

W

FOSTER AVE

CHI003

13,283

2013

6909

S

KEDZIE

CHI014

12,592

2013

5120

N

PULASKI

CHI004

10,048

2013

3843

S

WESTERN

CHI007

9,775

2013

6818

S

KEDZIE

CHI018

9,713

2014

536

E

MORGAN DR

CHI029

67,923

2014

10318

S

INDIANAPOLIS

CHI120

57,606

2014

445

W

127TH

CHI045

56,435

2014

2900

W

OGDEN

CHI021

55,394

2014

1142

W

IRVING PARK

CHI095

38,650

2015

4909

N

CICERO AVE

CHI149

19,202

2015

445

W

127TH

CHI045

12,865

2015

2900

W

OGDEN

CHI021

9,763

2015

2705

W

IRVING PARK

CHI079

8,159

2015

4831

W

LAWRENCE AVE

CHI147

8,120

Speed Payments – Top 5 –
2013 thru 2015

PYMT_YR

ST_NUM

ST_DIR

ST_NM

SPD_CAMERA_ID

AMT_PAID

2013

4124

W

FOSTER AVE

CHI003

$45,387.52

2013

6909

S

KEDZIE

CHI014

$42,057.20

2013

3843

S

WESTERN

CHI007

$40,454.00

2013

5120

N

PULASKI

CHI004

$39,570.00

2013

2080

W

PERSHING

CHI005

$34,725.00

2014

536

E

MORGAN DR

CHI029

$1,991,198.16

2014

10318

S

INDIANAPOLIS

CHI120

$1,474,749.80

2014

2900

W

OGDEN

CHI021

$1,398,285.80

2014

445

W

127TH

CHI045

$1,160,590.07

2014

1142

W

IRVING PARK

CHI095

$1,047,176.88

2015

536

E

MORGAN DR

CHI029

$761,074.74

2015

4909

N

CICERO AVE

CHI149

$687,906.17

2015

10318

S

INDIANAPOLIS

CHI120

$582,411.46

2015

445

W

127TH

CHI045

$564,891.97

2015

2900

W

OGDEN

CHI021

$546,181.45

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