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Dear Yo: If you are to add traffic cameras, then reduce traffic lights

By Todd Franko (Contact)


Published March 15, 2011

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Youngstown is considering cameras to catch speeders and stop-light violators.

Pardon the cynicism, but it comes off too much as a cash grab -- especially on the heels of council demanding the need to hire a parks director and up to 5 planning directors despite a budget that barely allows them to hire an intern.

Better evidence of it being a cash grab is how the plan started as a school safety measure, but is now becoming an idea that deserves usage in other parts of the city, say some councilmen.

Here's the story in today's Vindy.

I like cameras in school zones. I like them around hospitals.

But general use in and around the city, I disagree with, and that's where governments lose this debate with its citizenry.

The majority of the public has often come down against these when the public gets the chance to vote. (See below). We won't get that here.

I drive several Youngstown corridors for work, for fun, for my kids, etc. I've wasted more of my life at the city's intersections than I care to count.

Twenty percent of the downtown traffic lights could be eliminated and not one life would be jeopardized. I sit at them and too often count no person or car in sight as I sit. The worst is this 4-light monstrosity at Front Street and Vindicator Square. Boardman and Hazel is mind-numbing, too.

And it's delightful to sit at Williamson and Erie at 11 p.m. after a downtown event. The feeling there is that the only safety at risk is my own. 

We're a city of 60,000 people. Sure, you can add 20,000 people daily for those who work or go to school or visit here, but then you'd have to subtract the 20,000 city residents who do not drive due to age, economics, mental abilities or legal repercussions.
 
We are not a 60,000-person suburb on the way to a million-person city -- like a Columbus suburb. 

And yet we have a traffic light system that controls us like we're a 90,000-person city.

Here would be a deal for the city to consider to appease motorists: For every camera put in, remove three stoplights.

If you are work hard to penalize traffic, then work just as hard to free it up, too.
 
Here's some topic fodder below.

Here's a recent story from The Plain Dealer's driving dean, John Horton. He said cameras have been voted down 15-0 when the issue has been taken to the ballot box. In 15 towns where voters have decided, 15 towns have said no.


Newark just finished its first year with red-light cameras in 10 high-concern areas. The result: 93,000 citations, $3 million in revenue and a 23-percent drop in accidents.

Missouri has worked hard from the statehouse to local jurisdictions regulate how cameras can be used. In one study, fewer people ran red lights in areas with cameras, but there was also a 14 percent increase in overall crashes at those intersections.

What do you think?


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