"You Don't Have to Put Up the Red Light"

Presented (mostly) without comment: "Sheehan (You Don't Have to Put Up the Red Light)," by former Albany mayoral candidate Jesse Calhoun. It's... well, it's much pretty much it sounds like -- a cover of "Roxanne" by The Police as criticism of a possible plan to install red light cameras in Albany.

Calhoun was the Republican candidate for mayor in last year's election. He's also part of a band, The Ameros.

A few quick comments:

+ It's a bit a of technicality, but contrary to the video's intro text, the resolution recently passed by the Common Council was for the state legislature to give the city the ability to pass a law allowing the cameras. Sheehan and police chief Steven Krokoff have both said they're not 100 percent on board with the idea yet, and would like to study if further -- but they don't want to invest resources in that examination until finding out what the state legislature will do.

+ Speaking of studying the issue... There are a lot of good questions to be asked about red light cameras, and the video touches on some of them. A few of the first things the city could do toward answering some of the (other) questions: 1) compiling a list of the most-accident-prone intersections and trying to figure out what role red light running plays in accidents there and 2) Maybe a small study of a few intersections to count how red lights are run.

(Oh, and a good home for that traffic accident data would the openAlbany portal...)

(Thanks, A)


You don't have to up the red light cameras that will allow us to ticket maniac drivers blowing through red lights at speeds of more than 40 mph, but you probably should.

Way more interesting than the original song. Yes I said it.

You don't have to, but you might as well. Whatever makes it safer for pedestrians.

...or you could, you know, have the police officers (who we already pay) actually enforce the laws which they are sworn to uphold.

I know it's a novel idea, but it also would mean that we don't have to let ticket revenue flow to a third party corporation simply because we lack the political willpower (or are simply too lazy) to enforce the laws which are already on the books.

Then, by having the police do their jobs, you might actually catch more criminals during those traffic stops (DWI, unlicensed operator, you name it) - and it has the added benefit of not trampling all over your constitutional rights to due process.

And, of course, then there's the part about you being responsible for a car which is registered to you - and somehow being charged with a violation which you may not have actually committed.

Next up: your gun was stolen from a secure place in your home, used in a murder, and you get charged with homicide! Fun stuff, really.

Or we could, you know, use the cops we already to pay to enforce the laws they are already paid to enforce.

whoa whoa whoa, slow down there. this IS the City of Albany........ somebody's gotta get greased along the way.

I've been square against these camera systems for years. But once this came up, I started doing some real research. And the story on these things is way worse than I even knew.

Between the privatized law enforcement scheme, no option for those charged to contest the tickets, absolute corruption and government meddling on the part of the vendor...

And that's just in the last month or so... bribery scandals, courts declaring them unconstitutional, and cities that already have them shutting down the systems. Syracuse took a look at these also and ran screaming.

It seems like a nice idea in theory, until you realize that there's a for-profit entity with a vested interest in giving out more tickets rather than maintaining safety.

Check out the website to learn more....

Put me in camp no cameras, for all the reasons people have stated above. My question is, has anyone asked *WHY* people blow red lights in Albany so frequently? Could it be that we simply have too many lights, many of which could be replaced by stop signs? Or perhaps the fact that timed lights don't appear to exist here? Even the fact that many of the lights are old and not bright enough to see, especially on our east/west corridors, could be a contributing factor. All of these things can lead to an extremely frustrating drive through the city and can contribute to a F-it attitude, I'm gunning it at the yellow light.

Note: I'm not condoning red light running, it's obviously dangerous. But the underlying causes of the problem should be addressed. Red light cameras are a bandaid treating a symptom, and do not address the larger transportation problems plaguing the city.

Dan brings up some good points. It would be nice to see police officers staking out intersections for people who run red lights (I do realize that means we'd need an officer at pretty much every light in the city).

My husband and I attended an Eagle Hill neighborhood meeting last summer where an APD officer who was assigned to the meeting took questions. Route 20 runs through Eagle Hill and many people expressed their concern of drivers running red lights and driving well in excess of the speed limit through our residential area. The officer indicated that they occasionally monitor the road but also shrugged his shoulders and indicated it was Western Ave, people are going to speed, and there's not much they can do about it.

Between that and Pat Fahy trying to justify the tax give-away of Start Up NY that she voted for, we left the meeting infuriated.

But back to specifically red lights - wouldn't it make more sense for the city to finally invest in a smarter light technology? If you drive in Albany you know darn well why people run red lights - it's because it's frustrating to hit every single red light along a stretch of road. There is no rhyme or reason to the timing of the lights. If you're the lead car and you take off from a newly turned green light, a block later you're bound to hit a light just turning red. After this happens five or six times driving down Madison or Central it gets frustrating. This causes people to speed to try to make the next light and you know they'll eventually go through on a red just to break through and get anywhere. I didn't even factor in the road-rage component which most drivers probably succumb to in this scenario.

Between modernizing our traffic lights and actual police enforcement, it should be easy to make the the streets of Albany safer for cyclists, pedestrians and drivers.

It's obvious that APD could do a better job enforcing traffic laws whether or not cameras are installed.

"The officer indicated that they occasionally monitor the road but also shrugged his shoulders and indicated it was Western Ave, people are going to speed, and there's not much they can do about it."

Maybe APD should have a chat with Guilderland Police, who issue tickets on Western Ave to drivers going 5mph over the limit.

I don't really think the cameras are a bad idea, but starting with better traffic policing and better signal timing makes more sense to me.

As a pedestrian, I experience some of the unsafe and frankly inhumane behavior exhibited by drivers. I totally agree that the outdated traffic signaling in Albany is frustrating; trust me, its also frustrating for us walkers who often don't have proper pedestrian signaling or when we do, it takes about two minutes after pushing the button for the lights to turn to our favor. However, it does not excuse the fragrant behavior I see every day on my commute. On my daily journeys by foot, there are three intersections in particular where running the red isn’t just common at each cycle, its downright unconscionable. Its one thing to say “whoops, light just turned yellow and I can’t safely stop” its another thing when cars are blowing through a red 5 seconds after its turned. If its too frustrating for you drivers, just simply don’t drive. Trust me, I save so much in money and stress and really love having to not be a slave to my car.

I am totally behind these cameras and do feel that such technology can be installed and utilized appropriately by our civic leaders (the issue is simply to explosive for it not to be). All of the problems sited have some fairly reasonable solutions in my mind. However, I’m a numbers guy and don’t think these lights should be put up indiscriminately. Intersections with high accidents, especially vehicular on pedestrian, should be prioritized and I don’t think we need them everywhere.

I view red light cameras as a supplement (and a small supplement, mind you) to more significant upgrades to our traffic signaling system, more education to our drivers who frankly just don’t care about pedestrians, and to cops who to often ignore unsafe behaviors, especially as it relates to pedestrian rights.

Are there any insurance company claims studies demonstrating that known red light cameras result in many more rear end collisions? You know, the driver in front car slams on the brakes the moment the light turns yellow.

I demand the right to break the law and not have a camera catch me! It's logic pure and simple.

He's ruined that song for me

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