Ponzi up, Riverside!

The camera blanketing of Riverside has taken a Hitchcockian turn – red-light cameras to fund spy cams. You gotta admire the candor: gone is all pretext of installing red-light cameras for “public safety.” The goal now is to raise cash. Cash to fund the recording of every entry and exit into our village. Creeping authoritarianism is picking up its pace – soon it’ll start breaking a sweat.

It is just as well that public safety isn’t of interest. In December 2014, the Chicago Tribune released its study of Chicago’s red-light camera system. “The state-of-the-art study commissioned by the Tribune concluded the cameras do not reduce injury-related crashes overall.” (Chicago Tribune, Dec. 19, 2014) 

“The researchers also determined there is no safety benefit from cameras installed at intersections where there have been few crashes with injuries. Such accidents actually increased at those intersections after cameras went in.” (Ibid) 

“The [2014] findings are the latest in a series of Tribune investigations beginning in 2012 that have exposed corruption, failed oversight and unfair enforcement in Chicago’s program, once held out as a model for automated traffic enforcement.” (Ibid)

For a red-light camera to be a successful cash cow, two main ingredients are required. First, an intersection with an inviting turn lane to entice rolling right stops. Second, a location that will capture non-residents almost exclusively. 

The intersection of Forest and First is wholly within the village. You might ensnare some visitors to the zoo, but too many travelers are going to the high school. A thorough traffic study should reveal if there are enough non-resident drivers rolling on red to make the moo cow “moo-la.”

 Certainly the village board has to be open to ideas – some good, others not so much; but when “bad” turns to “worse,” it’s time to moo-ve the herd out to pasture (talking about cameras, not the village board).

Kevin F. Smith


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