Monthly Archives: July 2008
Another goofy short film/video involving a parking meter.
I think we have all had this feeling of being overwhelmed by parking tickets before. At least I have.
Yes, I am easily entertained. Yes, I know I’m a loser.
It seems that website traffic here at The Expired Meter has been increasing so rapidly over the past few months, that we exceeded our allotted bandwith.
We were not down for long, but we apologize all the same.
That rat bastard Sluggo has increased the site’s bandwith for the third time this month.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the fourth (really 3.5) in a weekly series on avoiding red light tickets here in Chicago–soon to be the red light camera capital of the world.
About a week or so ago, I did a rather extensive piece regarding using GPS units to help alert drivers to impending red light cameras.
Within the article, we covered a product from Cobra called the Nav 5000. At the time we had limited info on the unit, because Cobra had not responded to several requests for information.
Well, Chris Kooistra from Cobra finally did get back to me.
He was kind enough to give The Expired Meter some additional information about the unit and to say the least, we’re impressed. Impressed enough that I felt we needed to revisit this product and pass on this additional info to Expired Meter readers.
The main difference between Cobra and other GPS manufacturers is that, according to Kooistra, it has the only red light camera database that is “100% verified.”
“All of the information in our database has been checked and verified from official sources such as DOTs, police departments, traffic management offices, etc.,” says Kooistra. “A lot of the databases out there now rely on consumer input or hobbyists who compile their own data based on what they see.”
Kooistra says this type of un-verified data can lead to “false alerts,” which will lead to drivers ignoring the warnings from the GPS and possibly getting ticketed or making the detector useless to the driver.
Cobra has a staff who’s only goal in life is to give Nav 5000 users the most accurate, up-to-date red light and speed camera database.
“We have dedicated team here at Cobra that focus on nothing but updating our red light and speed camera database.” says Kooistra. “They are in constant contact with municipal traffic and Department of Transportation offices, checking city updates, as well as verifying camera locations from news articles across the nation.”
From what I can tell, it’s the only red light database that can say that.
“Lastly,” continued Kooistra, “we also verify against top red light and speed camera manufacturers giving us yet another verified source of information for camera locations across the country.
The company also allows Nav 5000 users to update their GPS red light/speed camera databases at the Cobra website so they are regularly so units are always up-to-date with the newest red light camera locations.
Kooistra also have three radar detector units that utilize Cobra’s red light camera database. This includes the XRS 9950 and XRS R7, both of which have the red light camera data feature as an optional accessory or the XRS R9G which comes standard with the red light data.
Here is the technical skinny on the Cobra XRX R9G radar detector. This unit as an MSRP of $440.00.
And here’s the tech lowdown on the Nav 5000 GPS unit which has an MSRP of $445.00.
Based on my research, Cobra seems to have the best GPS product out there for warning drivers of red light cameras.
If you are serious about avoiding red light cameras, and have the cash, Cobra has you covered.
RedEye writer Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz told me her cover story on fighting Chicago parking tickets hits the street this Monday morning.
I’m told The Expired Meter is mentioned within the story.
The Kennyman’s are a local Chicago family that have an online family album and blog called Cindy And The Kennyman’s. It’s a typical blog that gives the reader an inside look at the daily life of parents Cindy & John and their two children, Liam and Miles.Recently, John Kennyman received a ticket for blowing a red light. OUCH!
But instead of being upset, the family finds the city’s website and red light video evidence to be impressive. So impressive, they want to share their violation video with you.
If you’re like me, and never received a red light violation (I’m still shocked I’ve never got one) their recent posting allows you a glimpse inside the city’s red light camera enforcement program.
I hate to say it, but the city’s red light camera website IS impressive.
Perhaps I’m not as civil and polite as the Kennyman Family. But, despite being impressed with the technology, I still would be hacked off that I was just hit with a $100 fine.
Check out Mr. Kennyman’s red light camera violation.
big brother (and we don’t mean Liam)
We were caught on camera running a red light:
The letter even encourages us to go online and view the video taken of our car running the red light! We aren’t able to download the video but if you would like to watch it, here are the instructions:
go to www.cityofchicago.org/revenue
click “View Your Red-Light Violation Video”
type in our ticket # 7001222018
License plate # 9574240
You’ll have to copy a security code (just like when leaving a message on Colette & Colman’s blog)
You may be wondering who was driving…it was JOHN! I was downtown all day having a great time WALKING around with our friend Jules, who was visiting from Boston. John’s response upon seeing the traffic video was “The city should sell advertising space on this site. Thousands of people must view it every day.” Later he added “I’m just so impressed with their technology. This is a great use of our tax dollars at work.” Talk about handling a moving violation with grace!
Local readers–beware of traffic cameras when you’re at the intersection of North and Western!
Thanks for sharing your video and experience Kennyman Family. I wish I could help you beat this ticket, but I think your bank account is $100 lower because of this.
This is called “desperate for anything to post,” syndrome.
It’s Sunday damn it! Give me a break!
The Chicago Department of Revenue announced that on Sunday, just from 4:00 AM to 8:00 AM, the city’s parking ticket payment website and parking ticket search web page will be down from 4:00 AM to 8 AM.
What the hell are you doing up that early on a Sunday anyways? Unless you’re just coming home from a night of heavy drinking, or have a newborn baby at home–you shouldn’t be awake! Go back to sleep!
The City of Chicago Department of Revenue’s web site for ticket payments and queries may be unavailable on Sunday, July 20th between 4:00 am and 8:00 am Central Time for maintenance. We apologize for any inconvenience.
It’s like a tsunami of red light cameras.
According to this article by The Daily Herald, South Elgin is just one of several Fox Valley communities who are considering or have already OK’d red light cameras.
Check out the quote at the end where they claim the cameras are about “safety” not revenue. I can’t believe these people can say such things with a straight face.
Read it and weep.
South Elgin leaders are considering joining the growing number of towns with red-light enforcement cameras.
Village trustees have yet to give the official green light to a camera firm and it could take six to eight months before cameras are installed.
But they arrived at a consensus this week to have staff members move forward on the project.
South Elgin Police Chief Chris Merritt said the cameras will improve traffic enforcement by taking photos of vehicles that run red lights and, in turn, decrease accidents.
“It’s impossible to have a police officer there 24 hours a day,” Merritt said. “This technology has evolved to a point where it’s an effective way to change motorists’ behavior.”
Several Fox Valley communities, including Algonquin, Elgin, Geneva, St. Charles and West Dundee, have OK’d or are strongly considering red-light cameras.
Lake in the Hills has red-light cameras now.
South Elgin trustees would ultimately chose the firm, which would then study and determine locations.
Trustee Scott Richmond estimated there would be two or three intersections in town.
“There’s definitely a couple of areas in town where we think it would be helpful, particularly Randall Road,” Richmond said, adding McLean Boulevard also is an option.
Although South Elgin would collect the fines from red-light violators, Merritt said the function of the cameras is safety.
“We don’t want to make any money off this,” he said. “We want to prevent people from getting hurt.”
Geek Editor Note: Due to heavy Ask The Geek question traffic, this week, I’m going to try to bang out answers to several straight forward questions.
Dear Parking Ticket Geek,
I have receive a seizure notice. I am not trying to get out of paying the tickets, I just need more time.
My question is can the City of Chicago Department of Revenue boot outside of the City of Chicago.I live in the suburbs, can they come out to suburbs to boot my car? The car is registered for the suburb that I live in. Thank you advance for your help.
You can relax. The city cannot boot any vehicle parked outside the city limits, or parked on or within private property. The city is restricted to booting vehicles that are parked on Chicago’s public way or on Chicago public property.
So, if you come in the city, try to keep that vehicle off Chicago city streets during work week hours when the booting vans are most active.
In addition, start making payments to the city on a regular basis. Perhaps $25 every other week or so. Since the city is very unlikely to boot your car, you can put together a payment plan on your own terms.
Very truly yours,
The Parking Ticket Geek
I was parked at a meter yesterday that was covered with a plastic bag. When I came back to my car, I had a ticket for parking at an expired meter AND the plastic bag was still over the meter!
I took pictures showing evidence of the malfunctioned meter, but what are my chances of winning this case?
Your chances for victory are pretty good. Here’s what you need to know.
First, the Parking Enforcement Officers don’t necessarily recognize the “bag over the meter head” as proof a meter is broken. Don’t get me wrong. The meter was probably broken, and someone bagged it to alert other drivers, but don’t expect the city’s professional ticket writers to give a crap about the truth.
What you should have done was check under the bag to see if the meter was indeed malfunctioning, as I’ve heard some people bag a meter to fool Parking Enforcement Officers (aka Meter Maids).
Assuming it was broken, I would recommend photographing the meter with the bag over the head along with the error message readout of the front of the parking meter head. It might be blank or say FAIL or DEAD or OUT OF ORDER. Photograph that message and also the back of the meter so you can see the meter number.
I would also recommend calling 311 or 312-744-PARK and report the meter as broken. Do it a few times to make sure they know. Reporting the meter creates a record of it’s malfunction. This parking meter history is available to the hearing officers. If they see on the history that it was reported inoperable, this data along with your photos and testimony should beat that ticket.
Very truly yours,
The Parking Ticket Geek
Hi Parking Ticket Geek!
I had a question about city stickers and something you mentioned in one of your posts. I bought a convertible a year and half ago, paid the city sales tax on it, and the dealership registered it at my home address, which is in the city. The car has only been in the city two days since I bought it and is garaged at my boyfriend’s outside the city in the far north suburbs. I never bought a city sticker for it because it’s never in the city, but I’m wondering if they might track me down one of these days, since it is registered to my home address.
In your 6/6/08 post you mention registering your car at someone else’s house. I’m wondering if my car should be registered at his house. Another point, when I added the car to my insurance I thought they would want the
address it’s garaged out, but instead they said they use the registered address. That doesn’t make sense to me either.
My other car, which I use on occasion in the city has a city sticker, but what should I be doing about the convertible?
First, congrats on the convertible! I have a 1989 Dodge van with rusted out floorboards. So at high speeds, I get a similar windblown feeling up my pants. But I don’t look as cool as someone in a convertible, and in the winter, I freeze my ass off.
But, back to your questions.
I really don’t think you have much to worry about.
After reviewing the law (Chicago Municipal code 3-56-020), if your vehicle is registered within city limits, you are supposed to have a city sticker. However, the way the code is written, you only need a city sticker of that vehicle actually is driven on Chicago streets.
“It shall be unlawful for any motor vehicle owner residing within the city to use, … any motor vehicle or any other vehicle upon the public ways of the city or upon any city-owned property unless such vehicle is licensed (legal speak for city vehicle sticker – Geek ed.) as provided in this chapter”
So technically, you are not in violation of the law, since your convertible is never in the city.
And as far as I know, the city does not try to cross reference the state’s database with your address and mail you a ticket for not purchasing a city vehicle sticker.
You could go ahead and change the registration to your boyfriend’s house if that makes you feel better. You may want to consider re-registering your other car there too, so you can screw the city out of the $75 on the city sticker for that vehicle. You’d probably save some money on insurance to boot.
In general, I don’t think you have much to worry about. The chances of being ticketed or fined is slim to none. I would probably advise changing the registration on both vehicles to save the cash on the city stickers and insurance.
But ultimately, it’s up to you. Hope that helps.
Very truly yours,
The Parking Ticket Geek
If you have a question for The Parking Ticket Geek, please e-mail the Geek at: firstname.lastname@example.org
If we publish your question, you get an Expired Meter T-shirt–FREE!
The Reader’s Mick Dumke has a very interesting post on his blog spotlighting Chicago politics called Clout City.
Dumke, a keen observer and writer on Chicago’s local political scene, somehow got the city to cough up some very (at least to a parking ticket obsessed numbskull like myself) interesting data about red light intersections.
I’ve reprinted Dumke’s story and red light camera data below. The story, data and graphic are all courtesy of The Chicago Reader.
Check out the story and the data, with my goofy observations to follow.
by Mick Dumke
City officials announced this week that they’re ready to start catching parking violators by posting cameras on street sweepers. Earlier this year there was talk of busting speeders with cameras. All of it is inspired by the city’s success with using technology to nab people running red lights–and to collect millions of dollars in fines from them.
The city now has red-light cameras mounted in at least 72 intersections, and officials are planning to install scores more over the next few years.
As it is, some intersections seem to inspire more red-light runners–and, presumably, produce more city revenues–than others. But thousands of people who’ve been caught don’t bother paying the fines.
This chart shows how many alleged violators were caught by each camera between the beginning of 2007 and the end of April 2008, and how any of those have paid up. Of those who haven’t, a select few contested the charges and either won or are still fighting; most of the others are still in the city’s system. (The highlighted intersections had cameras installed after January 2007 and therefore haven’t generated data for the full 16 months.)
Here are some thoughts on the data here.
First, I am blown away by the number of red light violations at the intersection of 99th & Halsted. Over 30,000 violations in 16 months. That’s nearly double the second place intersection.
According to Jennifer Martinez from Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC), overall there’s been an average 59% decrease in red light running wherever red light cameras are installed. My God!!! How many people were running red lights at that intersection BEFORE the cameras were installed?!?
Now, I have not been down to see that intersection (although I’m planning a field trip down there very soon to see it for myself), but if I had to, I would guess that’s there’s something fucked up about that intersection. I don’t know if it is the signs, or the way the intersection was engineered or what, but that number is sooooooooo huge, there HAS to be something wrong that confuses drivers or causes them to accidentally blow the red light there. What other explanation could there be? I would LOVE to get some input on this.
This brings me back to my red light camera mantra. It’s not about safety, it’s about revenue. How can the city look at those incredible numbers and not try to somehow figure out what’s going on and fix the problem. Red light cameras only deter so much red light running. Let the city put their money where their mouth is and take some of that $80 million they’ve generated from red light cameras and fix the problem at 99th & Halsted.
The other intersections that jump out at me are the bottom three. Kedzie & 47th, Cicero & 47th and in particular, Halsted & Belmont. These three seem to be barely producing any tickets, but according to Ms. Martinez, those three cameras went live in early April, so those numbers don’t represent even a month of action.
Finally, I’m intrigued with the low (59%) payment percentages reflected in this report. Ultimately, most of these people will have to pay up and perhaps, if they delay long enough, the fine will double to $200 bucks. OUCH!
Overall, by this data, the red light cameras have been VERY good for the city’s coffers issuing nearly $50 million in tickets over just a 16 month period.
Thanks to Mick Dumke from The Reader, for letting us post his nice reporting.