Monthly Archives: September 2012

Red Light Camera Roundup

A man in Texas was not happy about receiving a red light camera ticket.

So he decided to pay the $137 ticket with…137 origami pigs made from one dollar bills all placed in a…donut box.

We assume he was trying to make some sort of statement.

Oak Brook Terrace Moves Closer To RLCs

West Suburban Oakbrook Terrace is one step further toward having red light camera enforcement in their town.

Tow Trucks Invade Wicker Park/Bucktown This Weekend

Open Streets, Bucktown 5K Will Impact Traffic On Northside Sunday

An army of tow trucks will invade the Wicker Park/Bucktown neighborhoods this weekend.
A series of large scale events will not only close miles of streets to vehicular traffic but some drivers will come back to find an empty space where they left their car the day or night before.

Sunday is the big day in question. Both the Bucktown 5K is being run along streets in its namesake neighborhood while Open Streets will close down nearly 1.4 miles of Milwaukee Avenue from Division St. and Ashland Ave. to Western Ave. from 8 AM to 4 PM.

While all side streets along Milwaukee Ave. between Western and Division will be closed off with barricades, both Damen and North Avenues, which bi-sect the event site, will be open to motor vehicle traffic.

Despite the obvious affect on traffic in the area on Sunday, event organizer Julia Kim of the Active Transportation Alliance is relatively optimistic the impact for area drivers will be low.

“We have been working closely with city agencies to insure everyone can get to wherever they need to go,” says Kim.

Chicago’s Department of Streets and Sanitation will have a total of 10 tow trucks in the area starting early Sunday morning–five for each event–to remove any vehicles who’s owners haven’t gotten the message to move their cars.

Everyone involved seems to be working hard to get the message out to car owners.

City Confused On Parking Restrictions Around Schools

Depending on whom you speak to, drivers can or cannot park their cars around schools during the current Chicago Public Schools teacher strike.

Since all public school teachers are on strike and no public school children are in the classroom, most drivers would assume they can safely ignore the signs restricting parking around schools which are only in effect during “School Days”.

Despite the lack of school children or any class instruction going on at the majority of Chicago Public Schools, Department of Finance spokesperson Holly Stutz says Parking Enforcement Aides will be ticketing around all schools while the strike is on.

“DOF will ticket if an individual is parked in a school zone during the strike,” says Stutz. “Certain schools are being used as Children First alternative school sites. If children are present at one of these alternative sites, there are obvious safety concerns (such as accessibility to emergency vehicles) that make parking enforcement appropriate.”

IDOT Launches New YouTube Video Series

The Illinois Department of Transportation launched a new YouTube video series this week aptly called “On The Move.”

IDOT says videos will be produced on an ongoing basis and allow Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann Schneider to keep Illinois citizens up to date on state transportation issues.

“This video series is an opportunity for me to provide further details on several imperative topics here at IDOT and also to elaborate on what we are working on to help keep you, the motorist, informed, said Schneider in a press release. “I look forward to discussing new projects and initiatives as well as letting you know how you can help us keep our roads safe.”

The inaugural video of the series concentrates on traffic safety. Schneider gives the lowdown on those digital billboard displays which keep a running total of the number of traffic fatalities which have occurred on roads within the state and then spends some time passing on some solid traffic safety tips.

Here’s the link to IDOT’s YouTube channel.

9 Companies Bid For Chicago’s Speed Camera Contract

Contract Could Be Worth Tens Of Millions To Winner

It’s a big contract.

A contract with the potential to produce tens of millions of dollars of revenue for the winning bidder.

So it’s no surprise that a total of nine companies submitted bids for Chicago’s speed camera automated enforcement program on Monday afternoon when the bids were opened.

The list includes nearly every major leader in the automated enforcement industry like American Traffic Solutions, Gatso USA and of course Redflex Traffic Systems, the city’s existing vendor for Chicago’s red light camera enforcement program.

There are also a few less established companies providing automated camera enforcement technology like Brekford Corporation, Optotraffic LLC, Motorola, John M. Baine B & W Sensors, LLC, Oak Brook based Federal Signal and Xerox.

Notably absent from the bid list was Lombard based RedSpeed Illinois which holds many contracts for red light cameras in municipalities around Illinois and
SafeSpeed, LLC another local company providing red light camera and speed camera enforcement.

Bids For Chicago Speed Camera Program Due Monday

After a series of delays Monday, September 10th at 4 PM, is the final deadline for companies to submit their bids to become the vendor for Chicago’s speed camera enforcement program.

The original bid deadline was August 9th, but was extended three times until the September 10th deadline was finalized.

It seems questions from potential vendors regarding the city’s Request for Proposal (RFP) were so voluminous that the city felt the need to extend the deadline to address the several hundred questions which were asked.

“There were 200 of them,” said Chicago Department of Transportation spokesperson Pete Scales. “It took time to answer them. We’re just giving them more time because there were so many questions to answer.”

According to American Traffic Solutions (ATS), spokesperson Charles Territo the RFP for Chicago’s speed camera system was a very complex one and deadline delays are normal.

Texas Raises Tollway Speed Limit To 85 MPH

85 freakin’ miles per hour.

That’s what the new speed limit will be on a 40 miler stretch of Texas toll road between San Antonio and Austin starting in November. The 85 mph speed limit will give Texas the highest speed limit in the nation.

Back in 2011, the Texas state legislature gave the Texas Department of Transportation permission to designate an 85 mph speed limit on certain roadways where they saw fit according to the Texas Tribune.

While still eschewing safety, TxDOT representatives believe allowing an 85 mph speed limit on that portion of Texas Highway 130 (SH 130) will give Texas drivers an alternative that will decrease congestion on other roadways in what’s called the Austin-San Antonio corridor.

Major Weekend Events Close Streets, Cause Traffic Headaches

Heads up weekend drivers.

If you plan on driving on Chicago’s Northside or downtown this weekend, be prepared for a ton of traffic challenges the entire weekend.

There’s a full menu of festivals, parades, art fairs and other street clogging events. Here’s a quick rundown on the what, where and when.

Keep your sanity and avoid these areas as much as possible.

Bruce Springsteen At Wrigley Field

The Boss is in town Friday and Saturday night at Wrigley Field and totally screwing up traffic up in Wrigleyville.

Chicago’s Ambitious ‘Pedestrian Plan’ Could Be Tough On Drivers

Chicago Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein unveils CDOT's Pedestrian Plan Thursday

“Make no little plans,” Daniel Burnham famously said.

Perhaps Chicago Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein was evoking the spirit of the famous urban planner and architect who had such an enduring influence on Chicago, when he unveiled the city’s ambitious Chicago Pedestrian Plan on Thursday morning.

At the corner of Madison & Dearborn, Klein along with representatives from the Department of Health, the Chicago Police Department, Illinois Department of Transportation and Active Transportation Alliance, spoke before reporters about the many months of work that went into the over 100 page report.

“This is a historic day for Chicago and CDOT,” Klein said. “It’s been a long process–over a year. The mayor recognizes a more walkable city is a more viable city.”

Aggressive Reduction Of Pedestrian Crashes

Perhaps the most overriding goal of the plan is not just to reduce pedestrian crashes, but to eliminate pedestrian fatalities due to crashes completely.

Sun-Times Finds Chicago A Dangerous Place For Pedestrians, Bikers

The bottom line?

Chicago can be a dangerous place to ride a bike or walk down the street according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

The Sun-Times takes a long, hard and comprehensive look at pedestrian and biking safety in a three part series that debuted on Monday.

In Monday’s segment, focusing on bike safety, shows a sobering 38% increase in bike crashes between 2001 and 2011, with over 1000 crashes and 43 fatalities over that time period with seven bike related deaths just last year.

Some transportation experts believe the increase in bike accidents correspond to the growing number of Chicagoans using bikes to get to work or for their general transportation.

The newspaper asks GRID Chicago writer and avid bike rider Steven Vance about improving safety for bikers and he believes yellow light durations at many intersections are too short, preventing many bike riders to clear these intersections safely–a critique leveled by many motor vehicle traffic safety advocates as well.

Downtown pedestrian safety is spotlighted in the series’ second segment. According to the Sun-Times, taxi cabs are the culprits with one out of every four pedestrian crashes involves a taxi.