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Should Menlo Park stop or expand its red-light camera program?

Original post made on Aug 19, 2013

Should Menlo Park add a fifth red-light camera, or shutter the program altogether? That question comes before the City Council on Tuesday, Aug. 20, as officials weigh whether to approve a five-year, $1.7 million contract with Redflex, which operates the cameras.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, August 19, 2013, 9:09 AM

Comments (25)

Posted by Michael G. Stogner, a resident of another community
on Aug 19, 2013 at 9:31 am

Why would the Menlo Park council continue to do business with REDFLEX?

Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 19, 2013 at 9:46 am

Because it brings revenue into the city. These cameras are NOT about safety. They're all about revenue generation.

Posted by yellow peril, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 19, 2013 at 9:56 am

redflex is the cautionary tale to consider when someone insists on outsourcing essential city services

someone greased some palm: there were no red-light accidents at those intersections that have a red light. Still none. But reflex gets 5 grand a month.

increase the yellow. send redflex home.

Posted by Old MP, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 19, 2013 at 12:06 pm

The red light cameras will cease to be revenue source if all of the selfish drivers stop running the red lights.

Posted by Martin Engel, a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Aug 19, 2013 at 12:41 pm

Yes, extending the yellow a second or two will help during that ambiguous time between green and red. An additional help in that last-minute decision-making whether to enter the intersection or not is the pedestrian count-down. I've found that very useful wherever they exist.

When, in the past, while serving on the Transportation Commission, I was involved in discussions regarding these traps, and provided articles about cities that had, due to public pressure, removed these camera-money traps. And, several of us argued against their installation. We were, of course, ignored.

The argument that rear enders are less costly than T-bone collisions is an absurd reason for keeping the cameras.

Please note that, as Sandy Brundage points out, Belmont, Redwood City, Hayward and San Carlos REMOVED their cameras. So have many other US cities.

What action do you suppose this city council will take? Yes, I'm afraid so.

Now that Menlo Park is so lavishly endowed with a full and well-salaried police force, perhaps they might patrol and cover these "dangerous" intersections personally, and catch those light-running evil doers. In that way, if necessary, a citation will be issued by a human being, not a non-thinking money-making machine.

This is one of those issues that a wide-spread protest by the residents and citizens of Menlo Park would oblige the city countil to act on our behalf, as they were elected to do.

Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 19, 2013 at 12:55 pm

Old MP:

90% or more of the red light violations are for right turns on red. The statistics indicate that these types of turns have a very low incidence of being the primary collision factor in accidents.

Posted by Old MP, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 19, 2013 at 2:15 pm

Not trying to pick a fight, but your response semi-indicates that you're OK with people running red lights if it is a red arrow? Hope I'm wrong.

I get so PO'd at those type of red light runners. Again, totally selfish. Meanwhile, I can't go on my green light because of those self-centered idiots. Not to mention the danger to pedestrians.

Just stop running *any* red light and the cameras cease to be an issue.

Posted by James C. Walker, a resident of another community
on Aug 19, 2013 at 2:16 pm

The Safer Streets LA analysis is excellent and correct.

Over fifty California cities have dropped or prohibited red light cameras, including LA, San Diego, Hayward and many others. There have been 30 official votes by citizens on ticket cameras and the cameras lost 27 of them. Once people see and understand the true money-grab purpose for ticket cameras, most people oppose them.

The simple fact of the finances is that ticket cameras cannot even pay their own high costs unless they ticket mostly safe drivers for small technical fouls that endanger no one.

Ticket cameras are three way for-profit business partnerships between a camera company, the state, and a local government willing to deliberately mis-engineer their traffic lights for more tickets and more money, and willing to issue most of the tickets to safe drivers.

Ticketing for profits is wrong 100% of the time. Residents who agree the money-grab program must end should attend the meeting and speak against the cameras.

James C. Walker, Life Member-National Motorists Association.

Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 19, 2013 at 2:23 pm

Old MP:

No, I don't think it is ok to run red lights. You are talking about left turn red light violations I was talking about right turn red light violations. But, supposedly these cameras are about "safety." If that's the case, why install a camera at an intersection with no history of red light running accident and then proceed to issue citations to the least likely to cause an accident in that situation? It's not about safety, it's about revenue. I despise being lied to and that is exactly what the city is doing when they try to claim those cameras are there for "safety."

Posted by Safer Streets L.A., a resident of another community
on Aug 19, 2013 at 2:27 pm

In reviewing our analysis, what should become apparent is that, contrary to claims made in the staff report on this subject, Menlo Park's red light camera program has not resulted in an improvement in safety and continuation of the program is not justified. Specifically:

1. At the El Camino photo enforced intersections, there was no red light running collision problem prior to installation of the cameras. Therefore the use of red light cameras at these locations was not justified and no safety improvement has been achieved.

2. At the Bayfront Expressway camera enforced intersection, the change in the number red light running collisions cannot be shown to be statistically significant due to the small number of collisions both before and after the cameras were installed (average change of 1 collision per year). Furthermore, any improvement in the collision rate was likely due to an increase in the amber signal time, not the presence of the red light cameras.

3. After adjusting for external factors affecting the number of issued citations (e.g. changes in signal timing), the data show that there was no overall reduction in violations over the 5 years of the program due to the presence of the cameras. At the Bayfront location, the citation rate increased slightly and at the El Camino locations the violation rate remained relatively constant.

4. Although red light running collisions have not decreased due to the cameras, rear end collisions have increased, resulting in a reduction in safety on the city's roadways.

The vast majority of violations captured by the cameras are for slow rolling right turns or fraction of a second late into red violations. Neither of these types of violations have caused any collisions although thousands of these incidents are captured by the cameras yearly at these intersections alone. The fraction of a second lates are the result of yellow times set slightly too low due to a misapplication of signal timing protocols. They would be virtually eliminated if the timing was done correctly resulting in a slightly longer yellow time of up to about 1 second.

Posted by Brandt, a resident of Atherton: other
on Aug 19, 2013 at 4:16 pm

Traffic cameras are just another form of Policing for Profit as Capitalism distorts our Justice System. These companies are bottom-feeders and take a 40% cut of the tickets while creating MORE dangerous intersections by fixing the lengths of yellow lights to entrap drivers. You can read about how private companies and crooked politicians have turned our Police forces on their ear in every attempt to squeeze money out of the general public at Web Link

Posted by Roger Jones, a resident of another community
on Aug 19, 2013 at 9:13 pm

Red Light Camera systems depend on revenue from fines to pay Redflex and police department overhead. Roughly each camera has to "earn" an average of $7,000 per month. There is a decided DISINCENTIVE to reduce red light running and to aggressively enforce all rolling rights or keep yellow lights at or near the minimums. The numbers must be kept at high levels. The city cannot afford to implement any significant safety measures such as extending the yellow light times since staff knows the burden of the costs will then shift to the general fund.

Posted by Mrs. B., a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 19, 2013 at 9:56 pm

Three cheers to Safer Streets LA and to James C. Walker! You have stated far more eloquently what I have advocated for years: these cameras are a menace to SAFE drivers, fail to reduce real intersection accidents, and are purely a means for the City of Menlo Park to garnish more revenue - largely from non-residents who don't know the "trick" that the cameras are looking for right turns on red made without a really long solid stop. Get rid of them!

Posted by Henry, a resident of another community
on Aug 19, 2013 at 11:46 pm

Let's see. They examined the camera enforced intersctions and found no statistically significant reduction in accidents caused by red light running, because there weren't any, or many, to begin with, but a big increase in rearenders.

For me, that raises a question: Could the fear of getting one of the $500 tickets be causing a CITYWIDE increase in rearenders, many times gteater than that seen at the camera-enforced intersections? After all, the Industry has always claimed that the (claimed) beneficial effect of the cameras is not limited just to the enforced intersections - they call it the Halo Effect. So it seems reasonable to expect that the adverse effects would also be widespread.

Posted by Roger Jones, a resident of another community
on Aug 19, 2013 at 11:51 pm

According to Martin Engel's comment above, his concerns while on the Transportation Commission fell on Council's deaf ears. The many MP residents who realize the fraud of the RLC program need to speak to Council today (Tues) at 7:00 pm. Do not let police set social policy. Ending the MP camera program will influence other area cities. We all have occasion to drive in other red light camera towns. By the way, one would do well to avoid Fremont and Newark.

Posted by Joseph E. Davis, a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Aug 20, 2013 at 5:32 am

Since red light cameras provide no benefits to citizens whatsoever (to the contrary, increasing stress and expense with no reduction in accidents), but they provide revenue to parasitic government entities, it is a safe bet that the council's decision will be "on with the program!"

Posted by Key fact, a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Aug 20, 2013 at 9:54 am

The red light program only succeeds if drivers persist in making mistakes. That's my main takeaway after reading the above comments. Chilling, isn't it? The financial incentives support whatever light configuration will result in the most drivers running a red.

The right-turn-on-red issue: a problem at El Camino and Ravenswood, where northbound El Camino drivers routinely turn right without looking, trying to outrun southbound El Camino drivers who have the turn arrow or eastbound Ravenswood drivers who have a green. I see near-accidents every day at that intersection, and two pedestrians have been killed there. For safety purposes, that should be a turn-only-on-arrow lane, but somehow the city can never find money for enhancements that truly reduce accidents.

Posted by Louise68, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 20, 2013 at 10:53 am

I, too, absolutely detest these stupid red-light cameras -- for all the reasons given so eloquently by others. Get rid of the doggoned things -- ASAP! But I am afraid that our City Council cares far more about the money the city makes from these stupid cameras than they do about public safety. Time to vote out whoever on the City Council supports these stupid red-light cameras.

Posted by neighbor, a resident of another community
on Aug 20, 2013 at 12:15 pm

Right turns on red are legal in California --- if the driver makes a full stop, there is NO oncoming traffic whatsoever, and where there is no special signage prohibiting such turns (as there is at Sand Hill/Alameda)

Posted by Downtowner, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 20, 2013 at 1:13 pm

Am I the only one who likes RLCs? As long as do a full stop prior to a right turn, no problem. What I have fits about are the red-left-arrow runners & RLCs greatly minimize those. Last week at an intersection without RLC, I was first in line to go straight when I got a green light. When the light turned, the first 2 cars to make their lefts across my path were probably yellow lighters. OK. The next 4 weren't & clearly hadn't started their turns until their left turn arrow was already red. I had a green for GO and still waited while 6 cars left-turned in front of me. An RLC would take care of that stuff fast.

Posted by John B., a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 20, 2013 at 4:19 pm

The cameras are about $$$ - not safety. Get rid of them!

Posted by here come da judge, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 20, 2013 at 4:38 pm

" RLCs greatly minimize those."

" An RLC would take care of that stuff fast. "

prove it. We have had the cameras around and I see insignificant statistics supporting your claims. Go hang in traffic court some morning and watch them get dismissed.

"picture ain't me, your honor"

"wasn't me driving it, your honor"

"See the green light in the photo, your honor?"


Posted by srd275, a resident of another community
on Aug 21, 2013 at 11:33 am

Note "cost" neutral contracts ARE PER TICKET FEE!

Web Link

Quote: Under severe budgetary pressures, local jurisdictions often sign contracts with vendors that were presented with a slick marketing campaign. Such deals often contain extremely unfavorable terms. The public is hurt by per-ticket payment systems -- often disguised with "cost neutral" contract language -- that ensure that the system is designed to maximize revenue, not safety. Such provisions provide a monetary incentive to increase the number of tickets issued. That leads to other provisions prohibiting cities from lengthening yellow light duration to improve safety and requiring right on red ticketing and ticket approval quotas.

Camerafraud on Facebook

Posted by Carlos Danger, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 21, 2013 at 12:20 pm

The City should cancel the red light camera program and instead allow residents to install red lights in front of their homes.

Posted by James C. Walker, a resident of another community
on Aug 21, 2013 at 12:56 pm

Menlo Park needs to dump its camera program to stop the predatory ticketing of mostly safe drivers AND to enhance the local economy by ending the idiotic practice of shipping $325 of each $480 ticket to Sacramento, Arizona and Australia. This HURTS the local economy to ship so much money out of the local area.

James C. Walker, Life Member-National Motorists Association

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