Evanston Alderman Melissa Wynne has asked city staff to find out how much it would cost to equip the city with speed cameras that could automatically ticket motorists exceeding the speed limit.

A new state law that went into effect earlier this year authorizes Chicago, but not other Illinois communities, to install such cameras in safety zones near schools.

Wynne, 3rd Ward, said she’s not necessarily advocating for the speed cameras, “but it we have chronic speeding problems, maybe that’s what we have to look at.”

She said she’s seen such cameras in Germany and in Washington, D.Ct.

But Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, said that people get incredibly angry about the cameras and that she’s heard that in Switzerland, where they’re also used, some drivers have shot them out.

The camera idea was raised in the midst of a broader discussion at Monday’s City Council meeting of ways to further reduce the city’s already declining traffic accident numbers — which included better signs at crosswalks, more radar speed displays and adding more curb bump-outs to reduce the width of the roadways pedestrians have to cross.

In Britain, speed cameras have been in use for two decades. The Telegraph, in a recent review of the program, quotes surveys showing that despite complaints, 69 percent of the British public still support their use. But The Sun says town have turned hundreds of the cameras off, in some cases leaving them in place as a silent deterrent.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. This is not  a surprise that

    This is not  a surprise that Evanston (and soon many other municipalities) followed Chicago's lead.  Seems unconstitutional to me. . .I wonder when someone will bring a court challenge?

    1. what if it were impossible to disobey the traffic laws?

      Consider what would happen if it were not possible to disobey any traffic law. Speed humps could be removed. Stop signs on every corner would not be needed. No pedestrian would need to worry about a driver turning right without stopping. No more smash-ups with someone running a red light. Nobody would be driving 15 over the limit on a residential street. No more multi-car and truck pileups on the interstates.

      The cost of auto insurance would dramatically drop. Police would be free to do other work than watch for traffic violations.

      Of course, this is currently impossible, but the closest that we can come to it is to either have cameras that monitor traffic or devices built into cars that "see" traffic signs and don't allow the driver to disobey them.

      Think of aviation. Almost all air traffic is continuously monitored. Yes, it is possible to fly a light plane in rural areas without monitoring but where air traffic exists, you cannot fly without air traffic control. This results in safety for everyone in the air and an aviation accident record that is exemplary. Nobody talks of this as an infringement of freedom. Flying and driving where others are present are both privileges, not freedoms. You must be licensed to do either.

      So the idea that enforcement of traffic laws is some kind of infringement of freedom is a fallacy. The one and only problem with traffic monitoring that might be continuous is that one's movement could be monitored so that authorities would know when and where you go. However, this is already the case if you fly anywhere since you must buy a ticket with a known departure and arrival.

      1. Driving is not a right

        While I agree that driving is not a right, I do believe that it is another move to the left's goal of a Nanny State. It doesn't surprise me that this could happen in Evanston.

        1. Driving is a privilege

          You're right!  Driving is NOT a right, it's a privilege.

          As long as the bicyclists who blow traffic lights and stop signs get cited for their offenses by these cameras, I'm all for it.

        2. We wouldn’t need a nanny state…

          We wouldn't need a nanny state if people obeyed the law.  Instead, there is a constant push to go multiple MPH over the posted speed limit.  I would like to feel safe when walking down the street.  I would like our children to be safe when they walk to school…. instead, parents are forced to drive their children because of the lack of safety that exists due to speeding and drivers who ignore multiple traffic laws.  

          Of course people are going to cry out that this is a move toward a nanny state, but many of those people are driving 35 in a 30 or 35 in a 20 MPH school zone with kids present.  And we don't want to forget the guys that drag race on our artery streets – for those of us that live on one, we have no protection.  If you live on a side street, you can call the city, complain and get speed humps.  Give artery street residents a solution so that we are protected as well.  And please do not say enforcement…. we've requested it and found:

          Cops cannot be everywhere at once and the system, which so many people call a nanny state system, throws out virtually every ticket that is challenged in court.  HOW are cops supposed to do their job?  With speed cameras, if you are caught, you cannot fight the ticket so it won't be thrown out of court… which has a cost to tax payers I might add.  Paying our cops to sit at court waiting to give testimony is a waste.  

          Instead of raising taxes, the city could recoup the cost of repaving our streets through fines imposed on scofflaws.  Further, if you don't break the law, you have nothing to worry about.  Bring on the speed cameras please!

  2. Speed cameras in Evanston?

    So alderman Melissa Wynne wants Evanston to install speed cameras?

    I have several times received $100 tickets in the mail for allegedly running a red light when in fact I was in the intersection making a left turn when the light changed. Try fighting that.

    Now Chicago is placing hundreds of speeding cameras throughout the city. No Thanks. I try to avoid Chicago as much as possible.I certainly don't want speed or red light cameras in my hometown.

    Melissa Wynne's proposal is the perfect example how our City Council is simply finding more ways to squeeze money from its citizens.

    I know who NOT to vote for next April.

  3. It’s really just another revenue stream

    The idea is a bad one. It's bad for community morale and while I'm sure that our fine elected officials are first concerned for the safety of the people in the city, this is also an effort at a new, or at least more broadly used, revenu stream. 

    It would be a huge mistake. 

  4. Get over it.

    Get over it. This is commonplace in many cities throughout the US.

    Moreover, if it deters a few hundred Chicagoans from shortcutting through Evanston during rush hour I'm all for it.

    My only concern is the potential for speeding to migrate to residential streets, or even alleyways. I have observed this at the south Whole Foods alley- a 40mph driver. Shocking but true.

    1. What shortcuts?

      I have lived in Evanston for almost 35 years now and I am yet to find these shortcust that you speak of. Evanston is one of the slowest north suburb to get through because of low speed limits, bad roads and general congestion.

      This notion of blaming a" few hundred Chicagoans" for supposedly speeding through Evanston is ludicrous. Are you saying that the fact that they live in Chicago makes them law-breaking speeders?

      What about the people who drive through on the way to home in Wilmette, Kenilworth,Winnetka and all those upscale north shore communities served by Green Bay and Sheridan roads?

  5. Voluntary taxes

    The cameras seem like a good idea, in that the tax burden begins to shift from the law-abiding citizens to the lawbreakers among us.  Taxes then become voluntary: if you don't want to pay, you simply follow the law.  If you decide to break the law, you pay, and your money goes to help the city continue to run.  Seems like a win all the way around, both fiscally and in safety.  And yes, I support ticketing law-breaking cyclists and pedestrians as well as motorists.

    1. Traffic cameras

      I agree in letting the law-breakers pay and we don't need ugly cameras set up for that. If the people who were using their phones while driving were ticketed,  we could haul in all the cash we need. Why aren't the police writing more of these tickets?


  6. Bad for business

    We already make it difficult for people to frequent the area with our parking situation.  Let's not drive them out with speeding tickets.  It is just ridiculous.  The city needs to come up with better ideas on how we can bring in revenue producing tax dollars.  Evanston does not necessarily have a speeding problem.  Another crazy notion by an inept Alderman.

    1. No speeding problem?

      I suppose it depends on how you define a speeding problem.  The last house I lived in had a speeding car up in the neighbor's lawn when it lost control (fortunately didn't hit anyone).  Our current house has speeding cars when parents are in a hurry to pick up their middle schoolers.  With young children out playing, I believe we have a speeding problem.  I say bring on the cameras.

  7. I am not in favor of our

    I am not in favor of our small hometown community having these cameras. This is not the first time Ms. Wynn has had a bad idea that she has pressed upon us.  I wonder where we come up with the money to buy them when we can't afford art teachers in our schools. 


    1. Teachers and cameras? Two different taxing bodies

      I'm not crazy about the cameras idea.  But affording arts teachers is a question for the District 65 budget, which is virtually entirely funded through property taxes and is a separate and independent taxing body and administration from the City of Evanston.

      The cameras would be in the City's budget, which has revenue from property taxes, fees, fines, sales (e.g. water), etc. 

  8. Dash cameras

    Most people are okay with public cameras as long as the public has access to the camera feed.  These cameras can let people log into a live feed to check out traffic and other things.  If there is no public access, then they aren't really public cameras, they are private cameras in public areas.

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