Albany Common Council passes red light camera ordinance: comments, votes, thoughts

albany red light camera vote fahy

State Assemblywoman Pat Fahy speaks during the public comment period ahead of Monday's night vote on red light cameras.

The Albany Common Council passed the ordinance for a red light camera demonstration project in the city Monday night. The ordinance passed 11-4 after some impassioned comments from council members.

Pending a signature on the bill from mayor Kathy Sheehan, who supports the measure, Albany will be on its way to becoming the first municipality in the Capital Region to get the automatic cameras.

Comments, the votes, the ordinance, and a few thoughts...


red light intersection western ave

A few weeks back, we ran through some of the issues surrounding red light cameras. Many of those issues surfaced again Monday night ahead of the vote. The super quick summary:

+ Backers of the red light camera ordinance -- including mayor Kathy Sheehan, Albany Police Department leaders, ordinance sponsor Leah Golby, state Assembly member Pat Fahy -- pitched the idea this past summer as a safety measure, and as a response to concerns frequently mentioned at community meetings about traffic safety issues.

+ The state legislature passed, and Andrew Cuomo signed, a bill giving Albany the authority to purse red light cameras.

+ The ordinance lays out a demonstration project involving cameras at 20 intersections. The owners of cars tagged by the cameras would be hit with a $50 violation. Violations would be reviewed by a city police officer being issued.

+ Albany police department officials pledged that the city would retain control of signals, and would not allow a red light camera contractor to manipulate yellow light times.

+ Red light camera skeptics -- both in the public and on the Common Council -- argued the experience of other municipalities was inconclusive on whether the cameras increased safety. And they pointed to problems with corruption and other operational snags with the contractors that provide cameras as evidence the systems are fundamentally flawed and the revenue from them can warp incentives.

+ Sheehan's proposed city budget included $2 million in revenue from the cameras. That intensified public criticism from camera skeptics that the plan was more focused on revenue generation than previously stated.

+ A copy of the ordinance is below.

Public comments

Snippets from a few of the public comments ahead of the vote.

Pat Fahy
State Assemblywoman in the 109th District, which covers much of the city of Albany. She was the sponsor of the state bill that opened the way for Albany to have the cameras.
"For me, this is about using technology. It's using technology so we can have a police force that we free up to investigate harsher and more serious crimes. We have an incredibly well-trained police force. Quite frankly, that's where I'd prefer to see their energies. So this is using technology in an appropriate way -- because, remember, this has to be done right -- and it's using technology so that we can free up very scarce, but vital police resources. Are there revenues to be raised? Absolutely, absolutely. Unfortunately, that is how we get folks' attention, through their pocketbook."

Patricia Reilly
Head of the Nassau County Traffic and Parking Violations Agency from 2002-2009 while it implemented red light cameras -- she's now a Slingerlands resident.
"If I could recommend a process, that process would be that for every camera installed in Albany make sure that there's adequate signage for the camera, whether it's a beacon, a sign. It shouldn't be that you're trying to ensnare someone. ... I would urge all those decision makers and stakeholders to make sure, whatever company you choose, you decide how money is collected, you decide with your traffic engineers about the federal standard for yellow lights. That is really important."

Rob Arrigo
Chairman of the New York chapter of Campaign for Liberty, Saratoga Springs resident.
"Red light cameras, not to mince words, are a scam. They're a complete scam. And they're designed to redistribute money from hardworking moms and motorists and dads trying to get to work and redistribute it to a for-profit corporation that wants as many violations as humanly possible so they can pad their pocketbook."

Jesse Calhoun
Republican candidate for the 109th state Assembly District. He's been a vocal opponent of red light cameras.
Re: American Traffic Solutions, one of the red light camera companies: "This is a corporation that 30 percent of it is owned by Goldman Sachs. And they got a lot of money from the federal bailout funds and then they used that money to buy up a lot of their competition, and they used some of this money to lobby and engage people like council members, Assembly people. And it kind of is reflective of this larger picture that's kind of a stranglehold on the system where the money generates more influence and the people are blocked out. ... The moral hazard, I believe, is too great. Once you get the money flowing in from these companies, the gotcha mentality may be a symptom of the money that flows."

Council comments

Snippets from comments made by Common Council members before the vote.

Leah Golby
10th ward - sponsor of the red light camera ordinance
"We've had much discussion on this. And I understand there are some people who are opposed. I see this very clearly as one tool in a toolbox to help address our egregious public safety issue, traffic safety issue, on our streets."

Jack Flynn
8th ward
"I did my own study, and my study was going to my constituents in the 8th ward and overwhelmingly people in the 8th ward are against this vote."

Mark Robinson
5th ward
"We are in a deficit, we have to climb out of the deficit. ... This is a tool to generate revenue. There are 60,000 cars that come through Arbor Hill every day, rushing to get to work, and rushing to get home to before they meet the traffic. And now they have to be conscious about when those lights change."

Ron Bailey
3rd ward
"We've been asking for years for speed bumps, not red light cameras, speed bumps. Because our kids and grandkids are getting hit. You know how many people are going to change their route now because of the red light cameras? They'll be those who fly through our neighborhoods, hitting our children, not caring about the crossing guards or anything. Those are the things we need to be worry about. This piece of legislation started out with the mayor saying it was not about revenue. We get to the budget session, it's about revenue. ... I cannot vote on a piece of legislation that's in a budget that we have not talked about ... And the mayor said, they can either accept the red light cameras or give up the ladder truck. I will not be bullied or blackmailed to vote for a piece of legislation that I don't believe in."

Frank Commisso, Jr
15th ward -- one of the most vocal critics of the legislation on the council
"[Putting the revenue from cameras in the general fund] gives all 15 of us a bad set of incentives. It creates these adverse incentives for our police chief, for our deputy police chief, for our mayor ... Don't let this pass tonight. You're making a bad decision that's going to hurt the city for years to come. When we run out of money from the red light cameras, when people learn where they are, then the speed cameras come. And then you'll have those set up all over the town."

Judd Krasher
11th ward - one of the most vocal critics of the legislation on the council
"Another alternative that I felt would have been far worthy of our time, certainly of our legislators' time, is to do something very simple: reduce the speed limit in the city of Albany to 25 miles an hour and give the city authorization to reduce the speed limit even more to 20 miles per hour where we deem appropriate. ... So while we continue to give tax breaks to multi million dollar corporations, our public safety is suffering. And red light cameras, and lining the pockets of other multi million dollar corporations, is not the way to go." (Krasher spoke for about 18 minutes, so this is just a small slice of what he said.)

Michael O'Brien
12th ward
"I think one of the important things is written right into this is that this is a demonstration project. In fact, it's subject to reviews by the council, by the state, and indeed by the city of Albany because it will be posted on the city website. ... And I do believe as demonstration, with the proper reviews, we can make a contribution to traffic safety."

Richard Conti
6th ward
"There is research and studies and data on both of sides of this issue. And what you do with research, studies, and data, you learn from it. You learn from mistakes that other people have made. And you emulate the success in those communities that have been successful. That's the purpose. You listen to both sides and you learn in terms of moving forward."

Cathy Fahey
7th ward
"We would all love a police officer on every corner to enforce traffic. But in this day and age we can't afford it, we've got to come up with creative solutions. Technology is one of those creative solutions that can save us money."

Carolyn McLaughlin
Common Council president
"I'm not sure whether it is about revenue or whether it is about safety. At this point, I'm just saying it's about both. Because I heard both arguments. But I also hope that as the process goes forward that there will be opportunity for the council to have further input about how this program works."

The vote

A few things

crosswalk button reflection

This discussion over red light cameras often reached a frustrating point because there was a lack of data about the traffic safety situation in Albany. Many people involved -- both advocates and skeptics -- acknowledged that red light running was a problem, but no one could point to good data about the incidence of this behavior or its effect (or lack thereof) on accidents and injuries. City officials said they were hesitant to dive into the research before getting the OK to advance because of the work involved. And that's understandable, especially when resources are tight.

But the absence of data hurt many arguments, especially those pushing for the cameras. Anecdotes about problem intersections and injuries are fine (we certainly have a bunch of them) -- and they certainly point there being a persistent problem -- but systematically collected evidence would have been more persuasive. If anything, a small study of 5-10 high-traffic intersections might have been able to give some better sense of the scale of the problem. Also, publicly identifying a pool of, say, 30-40 intersections based on incidence data that could be in line for the selected 20 spots would have given people a more concrete sense of how the cameras might help.

The math
Another numbers-related issue with the ordinance involved the $2 million revenue figure floated in the budget. Absent data about the incidence of red light running in the city, that number just sort of seemed to come out of nowhere. APD deputy chief Brendan Cox mentioned at a Common Council public safety committee meeting that the number was generated by an algorithm from American Traffic Solutions, one of the most prominent companies providing red light cameras. Judd Krasher posted an email he received from a lobbyist for ATS indicating the figure was "based on data that included an analysis of city intersections and multiple other factors including our experience in over 300 municipalities served by ATS."

OK, then share the math behind that with the public so people can make their own judgements about the assumptions folded into it.

Engineering and education
If there's one part of this situation that everyone involved seemed agree upon, it's that the city of Albany needs better traffic engineering, design, and education. Proponents of the cameras said the tech would be just one part of an overall approach including better engineering and education. Skeptics argued for the city to look into making engineering changes before going for the tech. And this isn't surprising, because we're guessing anyone who's spent any sort of substantial time in the city of Albany has stories about frustratingly coordinated lights or intersections that just don't seem to work the right way. And on top of all that, drivers and pedestrians could be both be more conscientious.

So, given that everyone seems to be on the same page about this (even if arriving at it from different directions): Let's see the concerted effort to push through these changes, and a willingness to experiment with ideas such as the Madison Road Diet.

The red light camera issue has been interesting because it's been intersection point for a lot of different threads about traffic safety, how government works, the potential corrupting influence of money, the role of technology, and fairness.

It's probably a sign of things to come as our society heads toward an ever-more-automated future, and we kick around ideas about technology taking over functions from humans. Today's it's about red light cameras replacing human police officers giving out traffic tickets. But it's not so hard to see a day when we're all debating (to speculate somewhat wildly) police drones or algorithmically-triggered code enforcement. How much are we willing to rely on these technologies (and are we willing to cut other things in order to not rely on them) -- and to what extent will we consider it fair?

The ordinance

This is a copy of the ordinance we got from sponsor Leah Golby the afternoon of October 20 ahead of the vote.

One of the notable changes from the original version: A new provision which diverts any revenue above the amount in the city budget to a reserve fund for traffic safety.

Albany Red Light Camera Ordinance 45.92.14 - Traffic-Control Signal Photo Violation-Monitoring System (Amen...


Money grab. Another transfer of wealth from the poor and the middle class to corporations and the city. For people taking home $400/$500 a week in salaries, $50 is obscenely high (but certainly not a problem for Kathy and her circle of friends). Too bad, because there were so many other solutions to address safety without peering into people's pockets... But it's Albany, where there is a tax, fee, fine, permit, license, etc, for everything.

@Joe A : If you can't afford the ticket, don't commit the crime.

Apparently your fine will be dismissed if you can prove you were on your way to a pro East Greenbush casino rally...

Yes because this worked out so well for Chicago.

Sean, thank you for the advice. Running a red light is NOT a CRIME, especially if absolutely nothing happens. Only in your mind.If something does happen, such as a real crime, we have laws on the books to deal with that. Fining people on the assumption that something "could have happened" is borderline unconstitutional. And, btw, the invention of red lights has been proven to be a horrible solution to move traffic, which is why you now see so many roundabouts. The solution to increased safety lies in traffic planning, not in "discipline and punish" (the title of a good book, btw). The idea that you should punish people is antiquated and rooted in misconceptions of forced compliance, which never works, like the Rockefeller Drug Laws. I find it amusing that so many people still think like you. For now, I maintain my initial position: it's a money grab.

Great news! This is long overdue in Albany.

@Joe A : I'll support nearly any ordinance that makes drivers like you think twice before deciding to run a red light. Whether I'm pushing a stroller, riding my bike or simply sitting opposite awaiting my turn, any disincentive I can give you that subsequently raises my chances of survival is worth it. For all I care, they could make the fine $1 so long as the act of paying it is more of an inconvenience to you than it otherwise would be to stop and wait at the red light.

@Joe A.: your vision is genius. Let's discuss this at the shooting range! I'll be the guy trying to hit the target. You'll be the guy in between. Now remember, I'm *not* trying to hit you, you just happen to be passing by. This shouldn't be a problem though, because just like you, Joe, I'm able to predict the future, and I can *guarantee* your safety. Shooting at a target is NOT a CRIME, especially if absolutely nothing happens. Only in your mind (a bit in your pants too). If something does happen, such as a bullet through the face, we have laws on the books to deal with that, hurray. Looking forward to meet you!

Sean, I hardly ever drive and pretty much never in Albany. For me, this is about abuse of power. But thanks. I understand your stance.

Love it. I walk from my house to work at Saint Rose 2-3 times a week and have to watch like a hawk for people speeding through red lights. Let's also lower the city speed limit to 25 while we're at it. Maybe then these morons will not go 45 miles an hour down Washington Avenue. Why should cities surrender themselves to the automobile and automobile drivers? - the very forces that killed cities to begin with. I guess people want to speed and go through red lights so they can get home 30 seconds sooner in order to watch TV 30 seconds sooner. These cameras are perfectly avoidable, if you don't want a ticket, slow down at a yellow. What's so hard about that besides being in your car 30 seconds longer? Life is so awful!

I am for red-light cameras if they put one at the intersection of Western Ave and Russell Road. The complete and utter disregard for that red light is astounding. Sometimes the crossing guard will "cross" me if my walk home coincides with the end of the school day.
yes, I am an adult and it's ridiculous to be walked across the street like a child, but watching all the cars be *forced* to stop by his upturned hand (since the red light was evidently not enough) is worth it.

Will anyone in city government will keep count of the rear end vehicle collisions, caused by drivers slamming on the brakes when they see the green change to amber? Didn't think so. Mark my words…….

@S: whatever. That comment is so absurd that I would not spend any time debating it. But thanks.

Just another money grab by the city really. @Tim brings up a great point I was thinking about as well, I think there will be many more rear end collisions. This is especially true if they city sets the yellow light timing to be short on purpose so they catch more red light runners=more fine income. There have been cities, like San Diego CA that have done this and been party to a class action lawsuit, and have removed the red light cameras.

tim, those data would probably be collected anyway. Compared to the danger of running red lights, I welcome those collisions!

Also, did someone actually say that running red lights is legal and then compare a $50 fine to the Rockerfeller drug laws? Seriously?

No, JayK, neither one of those statements are made in my comment. Please, read it again for comprehension. This is not a black or white issue (there's a yellow in between).

I absolutely agree that this is completely a money grab. Just one of the many ways we can have big brother watching us at all times. If anything, this ordinance will only serve to further drive a wedge between law enforcement and tax payers, exacerbating the distrust that already exists. For me, I already avoid driving in Albany because of pedestrians jumping out (no, I am not exaggerating) in the middle of the street not even at a crosswalk all because they are too impatient to walk to the corner and wait for the crosswalk light to turn. Perhaps a course on city walking might be more useful coupled with a reduction of the speed limit in higher pedestrian areas.

Let's's about the kids right? It's about putting an end to dangerous speeding and breaking red lights isn't it? Well city in Florida is just abandoned the camera system they placed at great cost because.......ready......they were losing money on tickets because the idiots started to drive properly. Remember whenever the government says its about people or the kids etc it reads "this is a great way to get more money from the dopes".

Another concern: if this is about pedestrian safety and not a money grab from those who can least afford it, shouldn't the revenue go for infrastructure improvement (I.e.: improved sidewalks, pedestrian crossings, signage, bike lanes, updated timing of lights, narrowing of traffic lanes, etc) rather than into the bottomless pit of the general fund. Ms. Sheehan, whom I think is a competent manager, gave up on looking for money to balance the budget and close the budget deficit where the money is: the myriad of non-profits (most of which are all but non-profits, like Albany Med, one of the biggest landlords in the city) and government entities. Instead, she picked the low-lying fruit, because it's so much easier to impose "sin taxes" while playing up peoples' indignation. Red light crossing is indeed a problem, but nowhere near a "crime" like the real crime in this city that needs the city's attention, like shootings, arm robberies, rapes, etc. It's too bad the Common Council is not a ting on those... But who am I to judge? Let's go all Scarlett Letter on those red light criminals, publicly humiliate and then stone them. Pretty shortsighted if you ask me and it solves absolutely nothing. A fine does not deter people from running red lights. They just select other routes.

"Running a red light is NOT a CRIME, especially if absolutely nothing happens." Sure sounds like you're saying running a red light is not a crime, which is technically true being a civil offense, but is still against the law and results in a penalty.

"The idea that you should punish people is antiquated and rooted in misconceptions of forced compliance, which never works, like the Rockefeller Drug Laws." Now that I reread this, it's actually even crazier than how I characterized it. My apologies.

JayK: your lack of comprehension does not compel me to meet you where argument/comment becomes insult. Good luck, buddy.

Honestly JayK, I don't feel that the Rockefeller Drug Law analogy is much of a stretch. If you didn't take one line out of context, you might have an easier time with reading comprehension. Would you care to elaborate why this is sooooo crazy?

There is currently a huge red-light running program in the city. I strongly support traffic calming and other Complete Streets design efforts to make our roads safer for everyone. Red-light cameras are one way to begin to address the problem without a huge upfront cost -- because when implemented correctly, crashes decrease, and revenue goes down over time. We've seen this occur in Nassau County:

$2 million is a conservative estimate for red-light ticket revenue based on my personal observance. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to notice cars run red lights. Try standing on one of Albany's most complained about corners for red-light running during rush hour one day for an hour -- and count the red-light runners. Then do the simple arithmetic and see where it gets you. I asked the mayor and police chief what they thought about putting a portion of the revenue toward a traffic safety fund as Tri-State Transportation campaign had suggested to us early on. AAA also recommends that all revenue be reinvested into traffic safety -- ideally, that would be great -- and maybe it's something that we could work towards. We agreed on the language included in the amended ordinance to put aside money over the budgeted amount to traffic safety. I have no doubt there will be funds going into that account that will be re-invested in traffic safety. As far as I know, this is an unprecedented move that makes Albany the only area of NYS to dedicate any RLC revenue towards traffic safety initiatives.

In researching this issue over the past several months, I've learned that the key to a successful red-light camera (RLC) program is in the implementation of the program. I think Albany's program will be successful based on some of the guidelines that we added to the ordinance that are not required by the state, and because of the Albany Police Department's stated plans. Here are some of those plans and some additional background information:

1. The Police Department has stated that all YELLOW traffic lights are currently at the 3 second federal standard and that as they upgrade lights, they will INCREASE the YELLOW light times to 4 seconds.

2. The Police Department will be running the program and has stated that the department will maintain control and NEVER hand over control of traffic lights to any vendor.

3. I was at a Community Policing meeting last night with Deputy Chief Cox where he stated that the goal of the program will be to eventually reach $0 in revenue. He knows that in the first couple of years, there will be ticket revenue, but as time goes on, he thinks that drivers will indeed catch on and stop running red lights.

4. The police department plans to post signs at the approach to all RLC intersections to educate drivers that they are coming to a RLC intersection.

5. The mayor has stated that she expects revenue to drop each year that the program is in place because that is what is happening in other communities.

6. The Albany Police Department initiated a Traffic Safety Stakeholders Committee in the fall of 2013. The committee consists of 3 subcommittees: Engineering, Education and Enforcement, all three are important components to ensuring that our streets are safe for everyone who uses them. Each subcommittee met over several months and developed recommendations that were then approved on April 28 at a meeting of the full committee.

7. Here are the recommendations of the Traffic Safety Stakeholders Committee:

8. One of the recommendations of the Enforcement subcommittee was to pursue red-light cameras. As it turned out, 2014 was an opportune time for Albany to seek authorization from the state to run a red-light camera program because it was the year that the other areas of the state who use RLCs needed to seek re-authorization of their 5-year demonstration programs.

9. I am an active member of the Engineering subcommittee of the Traffic Safety Stakeholders' Committee. I chose to focus my participation on that committee because its purpose is the most aligned with the Complete Streets legislation that I sponsored in 2013. The ability to seek lower speed limits in the city has been a project of mine for years, and as an engineering committee member, I put considerable effort into making sure that lowering the speed limit to 20 mph at least on Albany streets where people are seeking lower speed limits -- was included in the Engineering recommendations. Since there was a big push for NYC to lower their speed limit in 2014 to 20 mph, there was a window of opportunity to be part of the growing momentum.

10. I reached out to colleagues in the Complete Streets movement to see what could be done to give upstate cities authority to be able to lower speed limits on the streets that they are charged with protecting. This past spring 50 mayors and town supervisors, including Mayor Sheehan signed a letter to the governor seeking the authority to have control over speed limits - here is the letter: and here is an article about the issue and effort:

11. I disagree with Joe A, the person who doesn't have a problem with running red lights -- *especially if nothing happens. Cars running red lights have the potential to hurt and kill our most vulnerable road users, pedestrians. Think about this: if a car runs a run light, and there's a pedestrian waiting to cross at the corner who notices that the car ran the red light and stays on the corner for their own safety, technically "nothing happens"... BUT... what does that mean for the pedestrian? Well, first of all, that person has been incovenienced by the red light runner, who should have no greater priority on the road than a vulnerable pedestrian. Secondly, the pedestrian now have less time to cross the street safely before the light changes! That's a problem. Everybody pays for our roads and pedestrians do the least wear and tear on our streets, yet remain the most vulnerable.

[It's great to see people engaging each other on this important topic. But please, let's stick to the issues and steer away from poking each other.]

Last night during my 5 mile run around the Whitehall Rd/New Scotland Avenue area, I personally witnessed 4 cars run red lights. I also saw an idiot continue, with complete disregard, through a green light which was being approached by a very loud fire engine. I wish these observances were unusual, but they're not. Every single day I see cars run red lights - and don't get me started on the lack of respect for pedestrians in crosswalks. As a frequent pedestrian and parent, I am convinced that public safety needs to be addressed in our city. Thank you, Mayor Sheehan, Assemblywoman Fahy and Common Council for getting this initiative off the ground.

SuburbanSlumming, because it's a 50. Dollar. Fine. If anything, each fine should be tripled, but to compare such a fine to the obscenely harsh drug laws our state used to have is an extreme stretch.

Joe A, you've literally argued against any punishment for anything. That mess aside, I'm just having a blast watching heads explode since this was announced. The hoops you're all jumping through to invent downsides to this program are hilarious.

Let's review just a few of the more credible points raised:

1. This won't change the behavior of drivers.
2. This is just a money grab for the city.
3. In other places, because this changed the behavior of drivers, the city wasn't making enough money in revenue to continue the program.

Aaaaand scene.

(P.S. Thank you to Leah Golby for chiming in and clarifying many of the points made, and for all her work on this.)

These videos of one of the worst patrolled (by cops) and worst utilized (my motorist) is why red light cameras and other tools (turning arrows, traffic guard, and hell, why not a toll with a DMV clerk to test motorist on the rules of the road) are needed in Albany.


Ms. Golby, thank you for a thoughtful post and for shedding some light (no pun intended) on this issue. For the record, I do not run red lights, nor I really drive much in Albany, unless I absolutely need to do it. I simply stated that running a red light is not a crime, as implied by other posters. I also stated that most of the times these violations do not result in tragedy (luckily). I don't believe that our POVs are very far apart, although I prefer prevention to coercion and education to punishment. Call me a romantic, or a progressive, if you prefer. I will not repeat the points made above, as they are quite clear. There are many more to make, but this discussion has gone on for far too long. Let me just point out that rush hour trafffic creates a problem in every city in the world, not just Albany, and such traffic is very difficult to manage. Red light cameras do not generally address the problem (although they are typically less dangerous, since rush hour traffic does not move fast). The problem lies with the speeders who rush through lights -- but I doubt that cameras will change behaviors. The bigger problem, for me, is that the City of Albany is already so bloated with onerous indirect taxes, that people will inevitably get out of the city as soon as they can. Parking tickets and regulations are insane; taxes are high; services are located on the city borders... did you ever wonder why? Did you ever wonder why people move out? Did you ever wonder why businesses don't succeed? If one lives in a city where every minute of every day the city can take away 10% of your weekly income in parking in fines and other fees; where you cannot go to a store without worrying about those extra 15 minutes; where you have to pay to park on the street in front of your house; where your taxes far exceed the value you get in return (no, I'm not talking about lots of bars and taverns), than perhaps we might start talking about another onerous fee to add to the existing ones, on top of the more serious situation of widespread violent crime. Cameras do not help the city's image, and I would bet that they will not solve the problem of compulsive offenders. Cameras also only target one part of the problem (surely the most problematic), but they don't target jaywalkers, bicyclists that do not respect the laws, people who cross streets talking on their cell phones, kids who literally throw themselves in front of cars... and, yes, I also witnessed all of this. Why are drivers the only targets of enforcement? That is why I support education rather than punishment, and traffic management rather than coercion. You know -- it appears that you are well informed on this topic -- that there are dozens of measures that could improve safety before any ticket was issued. The city chose this one -- a single measure that, by all accounts, will slow down offenders...and then what? What was your investment for? How long will it last? What will the cameras be used for after that? If it is not, this measure by the city has all of the appearnces of a money grab and nothing else, because I haven't read about or heard any discussion regarding subsequent measures that will permanently create safer streets. Gut reactions to complex problems hardly ever provide an answer or a solution. Thank you for you input.

Hey Joe A - I've lived in Albany for 25 years and have spent $0 on parking fines. You know why? I don't park illegally. The $50 fine for running a red light is likely to impact my wallet in a similar fashion.

Unlike Silvia, I got a parking ticket my very first night living in the city. While paying it, I learned a valuable lesson: if there are tons and tons of empty spaces on only one side of the street, it's probably for a reason. Even in my ignorance, that parking ticket was no one's fault but my own. The ticket for running a red light is even more justified because red lights, unlike parking regulations, are pretty much universal.

What's especially amusing is the concern over all the people leaving Albany after the first census in 50 years in which the city gained population.

Joe - thanks for your response, and I'm glad that you don't run red lights. I hope that you might see now how even when there isn't a crash, red-light runners put pedestrians in jeopardy by giving people on foot even less time to safely cross the street.

While there are many ways to improve safety through better road design (e.g. Complete Streets), implementing the changes are quite costly. Currently, the city is facing a multimillion dollar deficit, so significant investment in big ticket road re-design is not going to happen in the near future without a dedicated funding source -- that source could be the funds set aside from RLC revenue above the budgeted amount.

The city found a way to *slowly fund the Madison Road Diet (reducing the number of car lanes on Madison Ave from 4 to 2 with a center turn lane) -- and I think that's primarily because it is a neighbor-driven project that has been pitched for several years. The idea first came about 10 years ago... and we're no place near full implementation yet.

I don't think that we're going to find a middle ground to agree on red-light cameras, but rest assured the police department will be pursuing more of the Traffic Safety Stakeholders' recommendations -- in fact, the committee adopted the "See! Be Seen!" pedestrian safety education campaign at one of their first meetings. Here's a recent article on the "See! Be Seen!" campaign:

Also my apologies for a few typos in my comments yesterday - starting with the 1st sentence "a huge red-light running *program" -- ha... that should have been "problem."

Thank you, Ms. Golby. Hope to see you around. It also appears that some people "live in Albany" like Mr. Jennings used to live in Albany; and still some people do not violate any laws in Albany and take their violations elsewhere, to the suburban playgrounds. I want the city to be "livable," not a prison.

Once those intersections to be equipped with cameras are announced, I will take some time to go to those intersections and I will take a movie of the light going green-yellow-red on each of those. And I will do that once again after cameras are installed and in operation for a few months....

Good job Mike, I'll be waiting for a pile up, Henry Johnson and Central...or at South Swan and Madison, say between 4:30 and 5:30... Let's see what that yields.

I've been on the hood of a car more than once while trying to cross at a crosswalk.

I'd much rather be rear-ended while in my car than have that happen again. This increased possibility of fender-benders argument is a non-starter.

I know, I know, anecdata...

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Thank you!

When we started AOA a decade ago we had no idea what was going to happen. And it turned out better than we could have... (more)

Let's stay in touch

This all feels like the last day of camp or something. And we're going to miss you all so much. But we'd like to stay... (more)

A few things I think about this place

Working on AOA over the past decade has been a life-changing experience for me and it's shaped the way I think about so many things.... (more)

Albany tightened its rules for shoveling snowy sidewalks last winter -- so how'd that work out?

If winter ever gets its act together and drops more snow on us, there will be sidewalks to shovel. And shortly after that, Albany will... (more)

Tea with Jack McEneny

Last week we were fortunate enough to spend a few minutes with Jack McEneny -- former state Assemblyman, unofficial Albany historian, and genuinely nice guy.... (more)

Recent Comments

My three year old son absolutely loving riding the train around Huck Finn's (Hoffman's) Playland this summer.

Thank you!

...has 27 comments, most recently from Ashley

Let's stay in touch

...has 4 comments, most recently from mg

A look inside 2 Judson Street

...has 3 comments, most recently from Diane (Agans) Boyle

Everything changes: Alicia Lea

...has 2 comments, most recently from Chaz Boyark

A few things I think about this place

...has 13 comments, most recently from Katherine