Saturday, July 2, 2011

21 Days of Red Light Running and Counting

For twenty-one straight days I saw a vehicle run a red light in ABQ. What in the hell is councilman Dan Lewis thinking forcing a public vote on the Red Light Camera program? And why did the mayor allow it to go to public vote? Wisely and dispassionately the mayor had research conducted that showed the validity of the program. He used the findings to correct the shortcomings. It is my opinion we should be talking about expanding this program. Sure, it's an imperfect attempt to treat the symptom instead of the problem (we live in an increasingly crowded car dependent city), but what is Lewis's alternative? When deaths go up, will he be to blame? As you can surmise, I am highly doubtful the public will save this program in an off year election. Update: After being out of town for several weeks I just got back and have a new streak going: two days of witnessing cars run red lights.


Unknown said...

Politicians have made every decision on this program for 6 years. The former mayor implemented it without any consultation from the council or from the public. I said during my council campaign three years ago that the best thing for this program is to put it before the voters and I've been consistent since then. What is the fear of the people of Albuquerque weighing in on this? People want their voice to be heard.

I don't believe this program has anything to do with public safety. In studies all over the country including our own UNM research study the cameras have proven to cause more accidents with very little evidence that they have a positive effect whatsoever.

Additionally, studies all over the country do prove that there are many alternative measures that have been proven to reduce accidents at intersections including extending yellow lights, all-red clearance times, improving sight lines at trouble intersections, and much more. If we were really interested in public safety, we would take every problem intersection in the city and implement these proven alternative measures. Extending a yellow light by one second is proven to decrease accidents at intersections by 80%.

Reasonable people that actually read these multitude of studies conclude that there is a better way. Cities large and small all over the country are getting rid of these programs based on serious studies.

City Councilors make thousands of decisions each year without asking the voters for their input. This is one of very few issues that will go before the voters. The ballot question is not a referendum. The council is simply asking for input from the voters, and the Journal as well as all the TV stations and media have clearly explained that.

The mayor also in a press release explained that this ballot measure is not legally binding and that the council would have to act one way or the other. This ballot question is similar to the 1/4 cent for public safety tax where this tax question was on the ballot for the people to weigh in. The decision of the voters did not enact the law. The council still acts legislatively one way or another, but is not legally bound to do so. The council has the ability to raise taxes or lower them at any time by up to a 1/4 cent without voter approval.

I would take the time to do your own research of the many studies out there as I have before passing uninformed judgement.

I will always do my best to make decisions based on what I believe is right for the community. Having said that, Republicans, Independents as well as Democrats have expressed widespread support for a public servant that thinks enough of the people of Albuquerque that he would suggest allowing them to have a say in such an important issue.

Dan Lewis

Dan said...

Mr. Lewis,

I appreciate your response. But this city has a red light running problem. I saw another incident tonight (at an intersection w/out a RLC).

If this program is so ineffective why did the study [] find the following:

"The primary finding of a moderate net cost benefit supports the continued use of RLCs in Albuquerque. The moderate net cost benefit primarily derives from the reduction in the number of injury crashes relative to the increase in PDO crashes."

"The reduction of red light running citations and speeding citations provides evidence and parallels the findings of other studies that RLC programs reduce the number and rate of red light running violations."

[full study:]

Why does the police department support this program?

As I stated, RLCs are, in my opinion, an imperfect attempt to treat the symptom instead of the problem (we live in an increasingly crowded car-dependent city). As soon as you can show me a better solution that will be implemented (instead of a hope that it will be implemented), I'm on board. Why not first have the city implement the superior intersection safety enhancements you advocate before shutting down the cameras? Once all intersections have been addressed the city can shut down the RLC program. If there is a cost involved have the RLC program fund it. I'm not convinced your solutions will truly reduce accidents but if you will provide links to supporting research I would be happy to check it out.

While I do not agree with your stance on the RLC program, I respect your service to the city.

If you aren't yet familiar with the book Traffic: Why We Drive Like We Do and What it Says About Us I encourage you to read it.