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Lakeview Speed Camera Citations on the Rise

By  Ariel Cheung and Tanveer Ali | May 6, 2015 5:45am 

 A speed camera up close.
A speed camera up close.
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DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser

LAKEVIEW — Two Ashland Avenue speed cameras installed in September as part of a controversial city program have generated almost $100,000 in fines, data shows.

The cameras, located at 3111 and 3130 N. Ashland Ave. near Burley Elementary School, have issued 2,133 tickets since Nov. 9, 2014.

The fines have cost drivers $95,280 as of April 2, according to data obtained by a Freedom of Information Act request.

First-time speeders caught on the cameras receive a warning, with 1,058 warnings issued in five months.

Speed cameras in Chicago can issue $35 tickets for motorists going six to 10 miles over the speed limit (but are currently only ticketing those going 10 over), and $100 tickets for those going 11 or more miles per hour over the speed limit. First-time offenders get a warning.

The Ashland Avenue cameras have issued 1,075 citations with fines, including 887 violations resulting in $100 fines.

The goal of the city's speed cameras is to slow drivers near parks and schools, but some residents feel speed and red-light cameras are an unfair way to generate revenue.

"Why are most cameras placed on major roads, away from parks and schools, rather than the side streets adjacent to schools and real parks where children actually walk?" asked South Lakeview resident Bob Stine.

Stine, 51, said a better location for the cameras would be on Barry Avenue, where children often cross to get to school, instead of Ashland.

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

The George Street resident also said he'd witnessed a car crash at the intersection when a car braking for the cameras was rear-ended, suggesting the cameras can cause problems, too.

"People drive at their normal speed up to just before the cameras and then put their brakes on right before the camera to avoid a ticket. The cameras therefore create a major traffic safety issue," Stine said.

After six months of speed camera use, speeding violations drop by about 30 percent, the Chicago Department of Transportation said in a statement. The department also credits the cameras with reducing the number of repeat offenders.

However, in Lakeview, the number of violations has steadily grown over the five months, with the 726 violations in March dwarfing the 226 issued during the cameras' first month of citations.

The 3130 N. Ashland Ave. camera, just south of the intersection at Belmont, Lincoln and Ashland avenues, issues more than double the number of violations given by a neighboring camera. The 1,520 violations (including 759 first-time warnings) generated $67,910 in fines, compared to the $27,370 from the camera at 3111 N. Ashland Ave.

With Burley Elementary nearby, the two cameras enforce a 20 mph speed limit on school days from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., but a child must be seen in the photograph of the speeding car. Otherwise, a 30 mph speed limit is enforced until 7 p.m.

The Lakeview speed camera data also showed:

  • The most popular time for speed camera violations is between 10 a.m. and noon, with the 934 violations accounting for almost 44 percent of total citations from the two cameras.
  • After 4 p.m., the 3130 N. Ashland Ave. camera sees little action, with only 52 violations recorded since November.
  • The 3111 N. Ashland Ave. camera's 635 violations are the 17th lowest of the city's 146 cameras, some of which, however, were installed as early as October 2013. The two Lakeview cameras are among the city's newest.

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

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