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Drivers Treat Irving Park, Foster Like Highways, Speed Cameras Show

IRVING PARK — Drivers along Irving Park Road and Foster Avenue appear to be mistaking these city streets for the Kennedy and Edens expressways, if speed camera data is any indicator.

According to data analyzed by DNAinfo Chicago, speed cameras installed at 2705 W. Irving Park Road and 4124 W. Foster Ave. are among the most active in the city, collecting a combined total of nearly $3 million in fines since they were installed in late 2013.

A speed camera on Irving Park Road is among the most active in the city. [DNAinfo/Patty Wetli]

Though the cameras were among the first to go live, with more time to rack up fines, they're also among the highest in terms of violations recorded and fines issued per day.

The camera at 4124 W. Foster Ave., adjacent to Gompers Park, has averaged 109 violations and added close to $3,000 to the city's coffers daily.

Neighbors have long complained that drivers treat traffic signals on Foster as "optional," stepping on the gas as they hit a relatively open stretch of road west of Pulaski.

"The people are getting in the way of the cars on Foster Avenue," resident Steve Davern said in 2013, during a public meeting that in part sparked the placement of the speed camera at Gompers.

According to the city, the cameras are doing their job and getting people to slow down.

"Our review of the data has shown a 31 percent reduction in speeding violations when you compare speeding rates during the first month of a camera being present to speeding rates during the sixth month of a camera being present," said Mike Claffey, spokesman for the Chicago Department of Transportation.

Ben Woodard and Tanveer Ali break down the speed camera data:

For the camera at 4124 W. Foster Ave., that statement has held true. The number of warnings issued topped 4,800 in November 2013 but fell to 1,285 in March 2015.

Violations by the speediest speed demons — those fined $100 for driving more than 11 miles per hour over the limit — also dipped, from a high of 1,077 in April 2014 to 805 recorded in March 2015.

The situation on Irving Park Road further demonstrates the way drivers treat four-lane versus two-lane streets.

Consider the camera at 2705 W. Irving Park Road, situated at the south end of Horner Park, compared with its counterpart on the park's northern boundary at 2721 W. Montrose Ave.

The four-lane Irving Park Road, ferrying drivers to and from the Kennedy, has notched more than 45,000 violations and $1.5 million in fines since coming online Dec. 29, 2013. By contrast, the camera on Montrose, which was installed the same day, has logged 1,707 violations and collected just $69,000 in fines.

Unlike the camera at Gompers, the one at 2705 Irving Park Road has done little to deter speeders of any persuasion. Though warning tickets have fallen from a peak of 3,285 in March 2014 to 1,195 a year later, $35 and $100 fines for speeding 6 to 10 mph or more than 11 mph over the limit, respectively, have held steady.

Violations in the $35 range hit a high of 303 in December 2014, a full year after the camera was installed, and totaled 261 in March 2015. Violations in the $100 range have consistently topped 900 since March 2014 to the present.

Roscoe Village: Concerns for Lane Tech Students Justified, But the Danger Isn't Where You'd Think

Parents and Lane Tech administrators fought for traffic safety measures in front of the school on Western Avenue following accidents in 2011 and 2012 in which students were struck by cars.

Among measures that included construction of a pedestrian island, a pair of speed cameras were installed at 3521 and 3534 N. Western Ave. in March 2014.

More than 17,000 combined violations have been issued by the cameras for a total of $592,000 in fines, bearing out concerns for students.

But the real danger, speed camera data suggests, is on Addison Street.

A single camera at 2549 W. Addison St., also installed in March 2014, has outpaced the pair on Western, logging 22,465 violations and $706,000 in fines.

The camera appeared to be working as a deterrent for a time, with violations dropping from a high of 3,588 in April 2014 to a low of 836 in November 2014. But in recent months, the number of tickets has been creeping back up to a total of 2,087 in March 2015.

Lincoln Square Brakes for Welles Park

Speed cameras on Western Avenue, next to Welles Park, get less of a workout than their counterparts on other four-lane streets. [DNAinfo/Patty Wetli]

In Lincoln Square, the three cameras installed around Welles Park all rank in the bottom half of the city's 146 speed cameras in terms of violations and fines per day.

Cameras at 4433 and 4436 N. Western Ave., installed in February 2014, have totaled slightly more than 18,000 violations and $727,000, a far cry from numbers posted by lone cameras on other four-lane streets such as Irving Park Road and Foster Avenue.

Credit the string of traffic signals between Montrose and Lawrence avenues for creating the sort of congestion that makes it challenging to speed on that stretch of Western throughout much of the day.

The third camera, at 4432 N. Lincoln Ave., might not even be necessary. It ranks 143rd out of 146 cameras and averages three violations a day — fewer than one a day in recent months — and has nabbed a total of 633 speeders in 14 months of operation for a grand total of $28,000.

Here are all the stories looking at speed camera data across Chicago's neighborhoods.

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