Chicago To Remove Red Light Cameras At 18 Locations

A red light cameras stands watch at Damen & Division in Wicker ParkThe City of Chicago announced it would be removing 36 red light cameras at 18 intersections late Tuesday afternoon.

According to the city, the cameras at these intersections will be decommissioned due to a dramatic decrease in right angle crashes at those locations.

“Automated traffic enforcement, whether through red-light or speed cameras, is about
changing drivers’ behavior,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel via press release. “The cameras at these intersections are now showing a low level of crashes and dangerous angle crashes, which means an enhanced level of safety.”

The city says Illinois Department of Transportation crash data showed that these 18 intersections saw one or less right angle crashes in the past year and that there was a total crash rate of less than one percent–a figure determined by diving the total number of crashes in a year by average daily traffic counts.

Right angle or T-bone crashes at intersections are considered to be the most dangerous types of vehicle crashes.

Barnet Fagel, a long time critic of the city’s automated traffic enforcement programs, doesn’t believe red light cameras improve traffic safety and thinks intersections are actually safer without them.

“Why stop at 18?”, asked Barnet Fagel a traffic safety spokesperson for the National Motorists Association. “I’m pleased these intersections now have a chance to be safer without the cameras there.”

The list of locations includes two in the city’s list of top ten red light camera ticket producing intersections. In 2012, Stony Island and 89th was the 7th highest producing intersection with 9,644 tickets and Clark and Cermak was ranked 10th with 7,923 tickets. Most of the other locations issued considerably less RLC violations.

The removal of these 36 cameras accounts for approximately 9% of the city’s total red light cameras. In 2012, these 18 intersections accounted for 56,184 red light camera tickets or with initial fines at $100 a pop, $5.6 million dollars in potential revenue. These numbers, coincidentally, also constitute a 9% reduction.

“I wouldn’t worry about the loss of revenue,” said Fagel. “The speed cameras will more than make up for any losses from these few red light cameras.”

Earlier in the year, Chicago’s Inspector General’s Office released a report which criticized the Chicago Department of Transportation for running a sloppy program which had not been monitoring the program to see if the cameras were effective in improving traffic safety.

Despite removing these cameras from operation, the city will continue to operate 348 cameras at 172 locations, still giving Chicago the distinction of red light camera capitol of the U.S. Chicago collected a total of $72 million in revenue from red light cameras in 2012 and has collected close to half a billion dollars in revenue since 2003 when the first cameras went live in Chicago.

City spokesperson Bill McCaffrey says these cameras will be removed by January 31st, 2014.

The city is currently negotiating a new contract for its red light camera program with Xerox. Redflex, the current vendor, has operated the program since its inception in 2003 but was banned from the bidding process for the new contract after bribery allegations were raised by the Chicago Tribune.

Redflex is currently working under the second of two contract extensions until the new contract is finalized and the new vendor can take over the program.

Below is the list released by the city of the 18 red light camera intersections slated for removal.

  • Osceola and Touhy Avenues
  • Kedzie and Devon Avenues
  • Harlem and Higgins Avenues
  • Sheridan Road and Hollywood Avenue
  • Austin and Belmont Avenues
  • Cicero and Belmont Avenues
  • Halsted and Belmont Avenues
  • California and North Avenues
  • Wells and North Avenues
  • Kostner Avenue and Division Street
  • Clark Street and Cermak Road
  • California Avenue and 35th Street
  • California Avenue and 47th Street
  • Pulaski Road and 71st Street
  • Wentworth Avenue and 69th Street
  • Racine Avenue and 79th Street
  • 79th Street and Cottage Grove Avenue
  • Stony Island Avenue and 89th Street

UPDATE: The city’s original list of intersections included “Wentworth & 65th”. This has been corrected after a CDOT spokesperson explained the original listing was a typo.

20 Responses to Chicago To Remove Red Light Cameras At 18 Locations

  1. Thanks for the report Mike. Next time you write an article like this, instead of just checking in with a driving advocate, why don’t you also contact a sustainable transportation advocacy group like the Active Transportation Alliance for their take on the news? That would result in a more balanced article.

  2. [...] City Removing Red Light Cameras From 18 Intersections (DNA, Expired Meter) [...]

  3. Jeff says:

    Note how many of these cameras were placed in locations designed for maximum revenue, as opposed to any real danger of the intersection:

    For example, the camera at Halsted and Belmont (one of the busiest intersections on the North Side) was nothing but a pure money grab to snare motorists trying to get through a perpetually backed up traffic light.

    The real reason thse cameras are coming down – they are no longer profitable. Like vermin who consume a home’s food supply and then move on, Emanuel and Klein will place their wretched cameras in new lucrative locations, and start the cycle all over again.

  4. Joe says:

    Yes, I’m sure on a Friday evening when no one is paying attention they will announce that 36 new locations have been found.

    One question on the speed cameras, is it still required for a child to be present for them to issue a ticket?

  5. Jeff says:

    The presence of a child requirement only applies to speed cameras in 20 mph school zones. It is still unclear how this requirement will be met/proved up by the red light camera vendor — Xerox – a company with a long history of issuing bogus tickets:

  6. The Parking Ticket Geek says:

    Thanks for the comment John.

    Mr. Fagel’s comments were used to balance Mayor Emanuel’s comments.

    In addition, the city’s press release was released VERY late in the day and by the time I was able to write it up, it was after 10 PM. I don’t believe anyone at Active Trans was at their office waiting for my phone call at 10 PM.

    I spoke to Mr. Fagel at around 11 PM because I do have his home phone number.

  7. Jeff says:


    I can tell you exactly what the response from the Active Transportation Alliance would have been. As the cheerleaders/Amen Chorus for Mayor Emanuel and Gabe Klein’s all-out, total war on cars, they would have declared a national day of whining and bitching, that motorists are being given any relief at all. After all, it was former ATA staffer Randy Neufeld who (in)famously called for Lakeshore Drive to be reduced to two car lanes in each direction, with the other 2 lanes for buses and bikes:

  8. Dastardly Don says:

    I have some questions.
    1. Who decided these locations?
    2. How were they picked?
    3. Were the Aldermen involved or consulted?
    4. Are there others that meet the criteria?

  9. saucexx says:

    Hey John,

    When the city starts ticketing bike riders for the red lights they PURPOSELY and CONTINUALLY run through, then you can worry about balance.

  10. Jeff says:

    This article is actually fully editorially balanced between:

    (1) the city’s position (that the camera removal is a matter of the cameras having fulfilled their purpose of decreasing accidents); and

    (2) the opposing motorist view expressed by Mr. Fagel (that these 18 intersections are actually safer now without the cameras).

    While the Active Transportation Alliance (“ATA”) might offer a statement on this issue (as would any number of other civic groups), the absence of the ATA’s input does not render this article editorially “unbalanced.”

    Editorial balance does not call for the inclusion of each any every possible shade of opinion that might exist on an issue. Indeed, to the extent that the ATA’s views on transit issues are generally in ideological lockstep with Mayor Emanuel and Commissioner Klein, a statement from the ATA on this point would serve little or no purpose of editorial balance.

  11. saucexx says:

    ATA might as well be another City Dept the way they hold Rahm and Gabe’s water. For every anti-car intiative the city throws out, ATA is right behind them with cockamamie press conferences, bussed in “supporters” and last minute “independent” reports to back them up. “Hey look we filmed cars going 31 mph in a 30 mph zone, see the city needs speed cameras!”

    Until they start to tackle the unsafe bicyclists who put themselves and others in danger on a regular basis and stop blaming cars for every problem in the world, they have no credibility.

  12. The Watcher says:

    Maybe they removed cameras near the homes of the Supreme Court justices who will soon be deciding if Chicago jumped the gun by enacting a void red light camera ordinance before state authorization!

  13. KC says:

    65th & Wentworth doesn’t even have a traffic signal, let alone red light cameras. Google says that the intersection has stop signs in all 3 usable directions.!q=65th+and+Wentworth+Chicago&data=!1m8!1m3!1d3!2d-87.630039!3d41.776547!2m2!1f270!2f90!4f90!2m4!1e1!2m2!1s-sMqAHo2G8qZv3-0TGcCYg!2e0!4m10!1m9!4m8!1m3!1d215029!2d-87.7319639!3d41.8337329!3m2!1i1570!2i868!4f13.1&fid=5

    I’m sure that the city will come up with 18 new locations for the red light cameras. Somehow, I haven’t received a red light ticket in the four years that I have been driving in the Chicago area. Must be the grace of God…

  14. B says:

    1) These cameras are losing money.
    2) These cameras can make more money elsewhere.
    3) These cameras are located where important people are getting tickets.
    4) The city is being proactive politically because the actual collision data is so very low. But it’s probably been low for years.

  15. It’s Wentworth Avenue and 69th Street which has traffic signals.

    Isn’t strange the ATA used to be for red light cameras, but after a meeting with then Mayor Daley the ATA was chummy with the city. And the ATA got some sort of government funding to design and engineer bike lanes if my memory serves me faithfully. Also the engineering for bike lanes is set forth in the Federal Highway Administration’s Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices.

  16. Jeff says:

    Asking the Active Transportation Alliance for input on transit issues would actually introduce more bias into this article. The ATA receives local, state and federal grant money to support its activities. Thus, to asking the ATA to opine on a government proposal – made by the same local government that funds the ATA – is classic conflict of interest. In short, ATA input would actually seem to be a disservice to editorial balance, when it comes to fair reporting on Chicago tranit.

  17. We have posted these locations to a map at the link above. Please send us or post any additional cameras that have been removed.

  18. frank landin says:

    We need the red light camera at belmont and ausint, is very dangerous, with 2 schools, and drivers running red lights all the time, I hope there is an accident and they sue the city and every jerk that wanted that camera turned off, its for saftey, too many dummies drive too fast around here, in their junk mobiles with no insurance, you people are idots that dont like red light and speed camers

  19. Franklin says:

    We need the red light camera turned back on at belmont and austin, its a very dangerous corner with 2 schools, and jerks turning on red and running red lights, too many idots speed thru in junk mobiles with no insurane only a jerk does not like red light or speed cameras for saftey

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