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Speed Cameras Begin Issuing Tickets on Northwest Side

By Erica Demarest | October 16, 2013 11:12am
 Four speed cameras near Gompers Park began issuing tickets Wednesday.
Four speed cameras near Gompers Park began issuing tickets Wednesday.
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DNAinfo/Erica Demarest

NORTH PARK — If you feel the need for speed near Gompers Park, you might want to curb that impulse.

On Wednesday, the city began issuing tickets via four speed cameras adjacent to the North Side park — two at 4100 W. Foster Ave. and two at 5100 N. Pulaski Road.

"People need to remember they’re breaking the law" when they speed, said Gabe Klein, the city's transportation commissioner. "We need to create a new normal for how people drive around Chicago."

The speed-enforcement cameras were installed in August and have issued warnings so far. Starting Wednesday, speeding drivers will get one more "freebie" ticket — a warning that doesn't include a fine — before fees start rolling in.

Those who drive 10 mph over the speed limit will be charged $35. For speeds that hit 11 mph or more over the limit, drivers will be fined $100.

Speed indicator signs — tall flashing posts that show drivers their current speeds — have been placed ahead of each camera. The goal, Klein said, is to give drivers time to slow down.

Critics have slammed the speed-enforcement cameras as nothing more than a cash grab for the city. But Klein insists it's all about safety — not "padding the city's budget."

"We don't want revenue. We want people to slow down," he said. "There’s a real cost of accidents and a real cost to deaths on the road that far outweigh any revenue.”

According to Klein, when a pedestrian is struck by a car traveling 20 mph, there is a 95 percent chance that person will survive. But when speeds increase to 40 mph, the likelihood of survival drops to 15 or 20 percent.

“Drivers are traveling too fast, and they are putting children, the elderly and adults at risk by moving at dangerous speeds near parks and schools,” Ald. Margaret Laurino (39th) said in a statement.

Ron Burke, executive director of the Active Transportation Alliance, estimates there are 60 crashes in Chicago each day that involve an injury or fatality. Of those, about 11 involve pedestrians or bicyclists.

Tickets will be issued near Gompers Park between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m. seven days a week. Eventually, the threshold for tickets will reduce from 10 mph over the speed limit, to 7 mph over the speed limit.

Klein did not provide a timeline for the reduction.

All money collected from speed-enforcement cameras will go toward safety programs, after-school programs and road improvements, Klein said.

Cameras stationed near McKinley, Marquette and Garfield parks will begin issuing tickets next week.

Additional cameras near Prosser Vocational High School and Douglas, Legion, Washington, Humboldt and Major Taylor parks are currently issuing warnings as part of their 30-day warning period.

City officials hope to install cameras in 50 safety zones within the next 12 months, Klein said.