Map

List

Numbers via the Albany Police Department. By the way: After a quick check of the math, it looks like the red light crashes is a percentage of all crashes reviewed near the intersection, not just crashes determined to be at the intersection.

Albany red light camera intersection map

albany red light camera intersections final

There's a larger clickable map after the jump.

The Albany Police Department released the final list of intersections for the city's new red light camera system Friday. There are 20 intersections in all.

Here's the list with some crash stats, along with a clickable map, and a few quick things and thoughts.

List and map

They're above in large-format -- click or scroll all the way up.

A few quick things about the program

+ Quick review of the basics: The Common Council passed an ordinance allowing 20 intersections to get red light cameras. Violations will be $50, no points. The city budget includes a line for $2 million in revenue from the cameras. (Here's is much more about the background.)

+ Here's some background on the work that went into creating the list of intersections, including how the APD was sifting through the traffic incident data, as well as an explanation of why some intersections were excluded from the program. Back in December APD assistant chief Brendan Cox said the crash data from the period October 1, 2011-September 30, 2014.

+ The city of Albany hasn't announced it's picked a contractor for the red light camera system, yet -- five companies have submitted proposals. (Here's the city-issued RFP.) [TU]

A few quick thoughts on the list of 20 intersections

+ After studying the map for a few minutes, we're not surprised by any of the intersections picked. They're all mostly along major corridors. Some of the intersections, like Madison Ave/Quail Street, are notorious for accidents.

+ One that might be a little bit of a surprise is Western Ave/Brevator Street. That intersection wasn't on the list of candidate intersections released in December. And it doesn't have a high number of crashes compared to the other intersections. But it was mentioned in public comments during at least one of the December info sessions. And, for what's worth, we have personally witnessed people run that red light multiple times (in fact, we saw someone blatantly run it just this week).

+ City officials -- APD assistant chief Brendan Cox, in particular -- have talked about trying to approach this program methodically and openly. And so far, they're seem to be doing a pretty good job, identifying the possible intersections and releasing crash info about them.

But the next part is where it gets hard. The process of picking the contractor needs to be open and documented. As the system is ready to come online, the city needs to make a concerted and prominent effort to notify people of the cameras. Once the system is operating, the city needs to be open about the numbers. And if the system doesn't perform, there should be changes/adjustments or even removal.

As has been reported many times, there are people who are skeptical of these systems. And the track record in some other cities gives good reason for that skepticism. So continuing to be open and methodical will be the best way for city officials to address those concerns.

Totally speculative, back-of-the-envelope math

The city budget includes a projection of $2 million in revenue from the red light camera system. We've been skeptical of that figure (as have others), because it seemed like it required a relatively large number of tickets. So based on the camera placement, we did a little bit of math to think through it. This is, at best, back of the envelope and really is just some rough thinking to get some perspective.

Based on federal data for traffic volume just along the Madison/Western, Washington Ave, and Central Ave corridors, we roughly estimated that about 65,000 vehicles travel those corridors each day on average. (Again, that is a very, very rough estimate). So let's plug in some numbers:

Of course, this doesn't include total volume throughout the whole system. And we have no idea whether tagging .10 percent of vehicles along a corridor for red light violations per day is high or low. But there's a little bit of very rough perspective.

Comments

Very surprised Washington/Brevator intersection didn't make it to the final 20. Those are potentially fatal ones (lost my grandfather to a person running it and T-boning him). I even thought it was in the earlier list.

I'm surprised Madison and Lake didn't get a camera. You usually have to wait for 2 or 3 cars to zoom through the red light on Madison before you can cross it on Lake.

Shocked that New Scotland and S Main isn't on there. Traffic from the hospitals is horrendous and there are blatant red lights runners every day in the afternoon. Much more so than New Scotland/Quail, from my experience living near New Scotland Ave.

Also based on the data it had way more crashes than New Scotland and Quail from the background link provided above.

Moved from Capital District to San Diego two years ago. Found red light cameras in use out here then, but no longer. As I understand it, the photos need to be reviewed by a human to determine if there has been a violation. Even then defense attorneys sometimes succeed in overthrowing a number of those convictions.

When an intersection has been identified as problematical, wouldn't it make sense to create a period during each traffic light cycle at that intersection when both sides are facing red lights?

I assume that the camera system understands right on red? Would they send a ticket if one doesn't come to a complete stop before making that kind of turn?

Kind of annoyed to see Delaware/Morton/Holland on the list. There are plenty of people caught in the intersection between 4 and 5pm, and plenty of people getting rear ended because you sit in traffic for 20 min just to get through that light-- but is that really an issue for traffic cameras, or just better timed lights and a dedicated corridor to get people onto the highway for their afternoon commute? If anything putting a traffic camera there will lead to MORE rear ending accidents as people slam on their breaks at the light.

To add on to Trish's comment above, I think that a light may have been better situated at Holland and Hackett. I think the problem is the light can be over 6 minutes long if you are sitting on Hackett/ Walgreen's/McDonald's, and yesterday alone I saw 2 people run the red in front of me. They'd definitely make a lot of money off it, but a better choice would be to improve the wait times, especially on weekends when there isn't as much traffic running through Holland. I can't agree, however, with making exceptions for people who block the intersection when trying to get through before the light turns (especially when it's obvious cars aren't going anywhere soon). Traffic is a pain, but pushing your way through in front of others who are waiting? Two wrongs don't make a right. So if not a red light ticket, a blocking an intersection ticket might be in order. We can all stand to gain from being more considerate drivers.

Thanks we have added the locations and a new dedicated page for discussion in Albany.

http://www.photoenforced.com/Albany.html

@Trish In terms of the red light cameras, I couldn't disagree more with the assessment that these don't belong her. I'm sure you already witness it, but if you look at the videos below, there is blatant disregard for the safety of drivers, pedestrians and cyclists alike at these intersections. Are RLC's the solution to solve all traffic safety issues. NOPE, but they are a tool in the kit, which I gladly support given all the idiots who drive this corridor.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=2y2C0sgUpfk

In terms of traffic demand management techniques to enhance the flow of traffic, I'm not optimistic, but do agree some solutions should be explored/piloted. This corridor was simply not designed for suburbanites to cut and run from work on the quick and I don't see any easy solutions to speed things up, beyond people living closer to work and/or utilizing mass transit. Those addicted to their cars...well, staggered work hours could be piloted to see if that would do the trick, but I still don't see this really solving the problem. In fact, it may prolong it beyond the 7:30-9am/4-5:30pm blocks, with cars stuck at intersections for 5 minutes rather than 15. I guess you could count that as a win.

Trish, these cameras do not automatically increase rear-end collisions. Seattle, for example, has seen great results from these cameras: http://www.theurbanist.org/2015/01/23/a-look-at-seattles-red-light-cameras/

This city has a huge problem with people running red lights and if we can add to our revenue while dealing with it, that's a win-win.

One thing I've been curious about is how the RLCs would handle situations where you have both heavy traffic and many left turns (for example making a left into the Harriman Campus out of the eastbound lane on Western). Often you'll get up there to make the left with the light still very much green, but given the equally heavy westbound traffic on Western, you'll have to pause pulled up partially into the crosswalk until there's an opening (you know the avoid causing an accident, which is the goal of the RLCs in the first place). If the violation is only against drivers that flat out drive through the red light straight onwards east on Western that makes perfect sense, but if your car isn't blocking the path of any other vehicles and you just get stuck waiting for a safe opportunity to make a left on green and the light changes, it sems both unfair and in conflict with the goal of avoiding accidents to get a violation there. Thankfully that particular intersection isn't on the list though.

Madison at Willett (in front of The Downtube) should be on the list. Pedestrians (including lots of kids walking to/from school) take their lives in their hands crossing Madison there.

Anyone else feeling some feelings and wondering about the intersection of Glenwood and New Scotland? My husband and I lived a few blocks away for several years and saw cars on New Scotland notoriously running that light daily- which also happens to be the intersection by New Scotland Elementary.

I've learned a lot about RLCs as an enforcement tool over the last year. I live in Santa Clarita, CA but visited Albany last September when I learned your city was considering these. It looks like this is pretty much a done deal in your city. That is a bit depressing. So much has been learned about the flaws in this enforcement tool in the last several years. Your city leaders seem to not care or are delusional. It will be said "It is only for safety" from the proponents while the oponents will say "it is only for the money." The fact is both statements are true. Camera enforcement can only be viable if there is enough revenue to cover the cost. There cannot be enough revenue with this program unless it is catching enough safe drivers in a trap. That trap can be a too short left turn yellow, or catching folks in a rolling right turn. Both behaviors don't lead to serious accidents. If you go through with the installation you will only be taking them down in a few years after it is realized the wrong people have been getting the tickets. Learn from what I am fighting on the West coast, and also look at how many jurisdictions nationwide have dropped this obscenity.

By reading the above, I see that Albany residents are ripe for the scam. What makes you think drivers are responsible for red light running and crashes? You are forgetting that government traffic engineers design these intersections and that drivers' behavior is a direct consequence. Did you not know that the length of the yellow light is half the time it takes you to stop? That's the national standard. Half the time! Do you know what dilemma zones are? These are stretches of roadway upstream from intersections where if you are in one when the light turns yellow, either physics will force you to run a red light or there will be viable stop/go decision but you will not have the clairvoyance to pick the correct solution.

Did you know that your city council and your traffic engineers know that dilemma zones exist at every intersection?

You think the drunk drivers and the inattentive drivers are the targets of these cameras. Think again. 92% of all red light running is caused by government-induced dilemma zones. 70% of the people Albany will ticket will be those people running a red light within the blink of an eye--literally a fraction of a second.

You guys are the perfect Mark.

@Brian: "What makes you think drivers are responsible for red light running and crashes?" The fact that somehow, against all odds, cars do seem capable of stopping at red lights. I've seen it! I've done it! Yet in Albany, they all too often seem to be unwilling to stop at them, and it's a major problem in this city.

"70% of the people Albany will ticket will be those people running a red light within the blink of an eye--literally a fraction of a second." I'd love to see the data you have to back this up, but even if these people encompass 95% of the fines, I'm totally okay with it. A fraction of a second is still running the light and the driver still should have stopped. Thus, they deserve to pay a fine.

I am stunned that the intersection of South Main and New Scotland is not included.

JayK, you completely miss the point. There is a huge difference between fining people a fraction of a second into the red on a too short yellow that creates the dilemma zone versus the folks a fraction of a second into a properly timed yellow. Brian Ceccarelli is an expert in this. Like I said before, it looks like Albany is in love with their soon to be Red Light Cameras. At the very least do yourselves a favor and make sure the yellow timing is correct (especially left turn yellow arrows). While I do not know your city's traffic engineer, I still would not trust him/her to get this right. The Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices is flawed on left turn arrow duration. Most cities go with the minimum 3 seconds it specifies. Depending on the 85th percentile speed it almost always must be much longer than that.

"on a too short yellow that creates the dilemma zone" Last I heard they were extending the yellow light by one second at the intersections with cameras.

You're missing the point. Stop at red lights. If not, pay a fine. Because you earned it.

@JayK: You can know to your own satisfaction that your city is scamming you with yellow lights. Do the following experiment. Pick a friend and arm him with a stop watch. Both of you get in a car. Jay, you drive. Give your friend the stop watch.

Decide in advance to do some turns--right, left and U. Decide in advance which intersections with a 45 mph speed limit, on which you are going to perform your experiments.

Start driving.

Approach an intersection with the intent to turn. You have to approach the intersection while the light is green and with no cars in front of you forming a queue. In order to demonstrate the problem, you need a clear path to the intersection where cars do not impede your progress to the intersection.

Approach the intersection at the speed limit. The moment you take your foot off the gas, have your friend start the watch. At this point, you are too close to stop, but not too close to slow down to a comfortably turning speed. Have your friend start his watch the moment you take your foot of the gas, that is, before you hit the brake.

When you cross over the stop bar (marking the intersection entrance point), stop the watch. At the stop bar you will be going about 12 - 15 mph. That is the speed generally one has to go in order to comfortably being a right turn.

Your friend's stop watch will say 6 seconds.

If the light turns yellow between the time you took your foot off the gas and 3 seconds after that, you will get a red light camera ticket. By the laws of physics, which Albany has just forbidden, you will be a scofflaw. Your mayor will repeat your words and say, "You earned that red light camera ticket."

Albany may give you 4 seconds of yellow. It still takes you over 6 seconds.

Scotty on Star Trek would say, "Captain, I canna change the laws of physics."

Albany is going to punish you for not being able.

Repeat the experiment for left turns and U turns. You will see that once beyond your ability to stop comfortably, a U turn will take you just over 7 seconds. A left turn, because the turn is not so sharp as a U or right, will take you about 5.4 seconds. Again, Albany gives you 3 seconds, maybe 4 if you are lucky.

Now what happens when go straight? If can proceed to the intersection, the yellow light will give you the distance to stop. If you cannot stop comfortably, the time to reach the intersection on the precondition that you proceed at the speed limit or faster. This type of traffic is the majority of traffic movement. The yellow light works for this case under the caveat the driver knows precisely where stop turns into go. For all other driving maneuvers, the yellow light is too short. It is a federal standard to short the yellow in this fashion.

Jay, there is a reason why traffic engineers short the yellow by standard practice. Their priority is the efficient flow of traffic, not the legal motion of traffic. They can only attain their "level of service goals" by forcing a minority of drivers run red lights. (It is like over-clocking a computer.) A Texas DOT report states that the priority in signal design is first and foremost 1. Efficient Flow of Traffic 2. Traffic Safety and then seventh on the list, 7. The legal motion of traffic. Jay, traffic engineers know and do not care that they make millions of drivers run red lights.

Food for more thought: Consider going straight and approaching an intersection. You are progressing nicely to the intersection, the light turns yellow, but then car in front of you makes you slow down because he is turning into a business.

When the cameras go up, note that the cameras will take vigil at the intersections with the most turning traffic and/or close-by business entrances. An intersection which makes cars slow down the most just before entering the intersection is a gold mine.

Wow, Brian, you'll write a book to get out of stopping at a red light, but somehow, it just seems to possible to actually do so. I've stopped at thousands, maybe tens of thousands of red lights. So stop at red lights, and don't get a ticket. If this turns out to be a gold mine, that's great! We could really use the revenue. If not, that's great! It means people are now stopping at red lights.

Also, very few if any of the intersections on this map have a 45 mph speed limit. The speed limit is usually 30 mph - more than enough time to stop. Oddly enough, people also manage to stop at red lights even when the speed limit is 45.

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