Red light cameras for Collingwood?

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traffic cameras
A small but very irate number of residents have broached with me the topic of installing red light cameras at Collingwood’s traffic intersections. I hadn’t really thought about it – except to acknowledge that traffic seems to be getting busier. I’ve seen traffic backed up for 500-1,000m at numerous intersections in town – even on weekday afternoons, and seen it enough times to recognize it is the future here.

More cars means an increase in the number of bad, inattentive or aggressive drivers will also go up. Although I don’t know if the percentage remains the same, the number of bad or aggressive drivers appears to be climbing.

In my own experience, it’s worse on Highway 26 than other streets, but that’s my own driving pattern – YMMV (your mileage may vary).

Are red light cameras the solution? After giving it some consideration, I tend to agree that at the very least they may help deter the worst drivers.

I’m sure we’ve all had the same experiences at traffic signals: drivers running yellow or red lights. It’s both frustrating and dangerous to attempt a left turn on the yellow signal never knowing if the oncoming drivers will stop or speed up to race through. I’m equally sure you’ve had experiences of close calls where speeding drivers have cut you off when attempting a left turn, or having to wait until the light turns red because too many oncoming drivers ignore the yellow (which is equally dangerous).

One doctor told reported that when he was at a red light the car behind him swung out into the adjacent lane and raced through the red! I’ve personally seen numerous vehicles race through red lights – even when pedestrians were trying to cross at lights where the signals said they could do so. 

Red light cameras might deter this behaviour, if we post warning signs all over town. The risk of signage clutter seems a small price to pay for making our streets safer. But we’d also have to make sure we are strict about enforcement.

Traffic on Hwy 26/First Street is pretty crazy and needs to be addressed. It’s difficult and dangerous for pedestrians to cross at any but the signalized intersections at any time. And it’s far too dangerous for cyclists to ride in the lanes (most take to the 3m-wide sidewalk on the north side – why the MOT didn’t build a 3m sidewalk on the Hwy 26 expansion on the east side of town is a mystery).

This busy traffic is not what we wanted in our small town, but we have it. It’s a reality we need to address because it won’t be getting better on its own.

To be fair, I don’t have any information about costs, and I don’t even know whether the town has jurisdiction over the signals on Highway 26, or if the Ministry of Transportation governs them (i’ll do some research). But I think the idea is a good one and well worth exploring. The revenue from tickets may be enough to pay for their costs.

I think it’s far better to spend our tax dollars investing in public safety than in wasting it in Saunderson’s Vindictive Judicial Inquiry or in sole-sourced lawyers, and PR consultants Brian and his minions hired to fight the hospital’s redevelopment.

The alternative is to request the OPP do more traffic policing and radar enforcement of local speed limits. This, too, has a cost to the town. I don’t know which is more effective or more expensive. Personally, I think a combination of red light cameras and more radar enforcement would help and be well worth the expense.

As your Deputy Mayor, i will ask for a staff report on the installation and maintenance costs of these cameras and for staff to identify the most likely signalized intersections in which to put such cameras. I will also ask for the costs of more OPP traffic enforcement in the busiest corridors.

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