Chicago Tonight Explains Chicago’s Speed Camera Program

Channel 11′s Chicago Tonight has a solid run down on the start of ticketing at the city’s first speed cameras.

Interestingly, they report Alderman Anthony Beale (9th) is questioning if one of the city’s first Southside locations is a legitimate location for a speed camera.

According to the law, speed cameras can only posted within 1/8 of a park or school.

However, the location on 127th Street is not near either. Instead, it’s next to a bike path which we can only assume, somehow fits under the definition of a “park.” Ald. Beale is working to get the camera removed.

This location is similar to a spot on the Northside on Irving Park Road just west of Clark Street. “Challenger Park” as the city named it, is really a running path between the CTA Red Line tracks and a parking lot.

Much like the spot on 127th, there are no swings, slides, baseball diamonds or playing fields–the traditional elements of what most people would consider a “park.”

Chicago Tonight also interviews Alderman John Arena (45th) who says the speed camera planned for a location in his ward is at a place where speeding is not an issue. Instead, Arena says he’d like that camera moved to a location in the ward where residence complain about chronic speeding problems.

UPDATE: We spoke to city hall spokesperson Bill McCaffrey who clarifies that despite the fact the bike trail on 127th street does not look the traditional park, it is a Chicago Park District Park called Major Taylor Trail Park. There’s even a group of supporters called Friends of Major Taylor Trail Park.

Challenger Park
is also a park district designated park according to McCaffrey.

Some critics question why a program called the Children’s Safety Zone & Automated Speed Enforcement Program would install cameras outside of parks where very few children would be present. Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein have continually stated the program, more than anything else, was to improve the safety of child pedestrians.

14 Responses to Chicago Tonight Explains Chicago’s Speed Camera Program

  1. Hey Mike -
    Thanks, as always, for the great plug! I do want to clarify that, while Ald. Beale feels the location at 127th st. isn’t legitimate, the bike path we found down there is indeed part of the Chicago Park District. Its called the Major Taylor Bike Trail and it is technically a park. I guess we can debate the semantics of what exactly a “park” is, but my apologies for not making it a little clearer in my presentation.

  2. Mike says:

    Could Klein lie through his teeth any more? A camera by a bike path on the south side? A camera by a jogging path which also houses a dog park?

    This is greed, pure and simple. The red light cameras were enough. I’m hoping this is the straw that breaks the camels back. It’s time for all these cameras to go.

  3. The Parking Ticket Geek says:


    I just, seriously JUST got off the phone with a spokesperson in the Mayor’s office who explained it to me. I’m going to update shortly.

    Thanks Paris! Keep up the great work over at Chicago Tonight.

  4. Mike says:

    Parks=swings, slides, playground, etc. I expect the city will hastily install those items to appear as a park so they can make money through their scameras.

  5. The Parking Ticket Geek says:


    I drive by the entrance to Challenger Park on a regular basis. I have NEVER seen a kid even remotely close to that location.

    If this program is about “children’s safety” then the two locations spotlighted above are poor location choices for improving the safety of kids.

  6. Jeff says:


    Challenger Park’s entrance is 2 very long blocks up Kenmore Avenue from the spot on Irving Park where the cameras are to be placed. Any foot traffic to or from that entrance comes from the east/west side streets north of Irving that lead to the Park.

    This is the purest example of a “scamera,” designed to take advantage of the fact that Irving Park opens up to 2 lanes west of Kenmore, and westbound drivers (i.e., morning commuters headed out towards the Kennedy) would naturally pick up some speed to keep up with the normal flow of traffic.

    Simply put, Rahm and Gabe Klein are making commuters into criminals, and lying through their teeth about safety as political cover.

  7. Pete says:

    I KNEW this was going to happen. Every patch of grass or landscaped space in the city (especially if there is a fast-moving road next to it) will be classified as a “park”. I’m sure every piece of property owned by a school (or even a house where a kid is homeschooled) will be classified as a “school zone”. All so Rahm can rake in more $$$ under the guise of safety.

    Now I can’t wait for the scam where politically connected people make their camera tickets disappear. You know it’s happening.

  8. The rea$on$ cho$en for mo$t camera$ are obviou$ to mo$t ob$erver$ and tho$e rea$on$ do NOT include $afety.

    Most of the cameras will be in gotcha locations where the unsuspecting drivers will be unaware that there are any legitimate reasons for the artificially low posted limits. This is how a ticket camera scam works.

    Set up the rules for the posted limits and the yellow light intervals so that huge portions of the safe driving public will make small technical fouls of the rules that endanger no one. Then pick their pockets for every dollar you can get.

    At some point, Chicago residents will wake up and revolt at the scam.

    James C. Walker, Life Member-National Motorists Association

  9. nonya says:

    Geek – your article implies that Arena is talking about the Challenger Park camera, but that wouldn’t be the case, as that’s miles east of his ward. He seems to be asking to relocate a camera that is within his ward.

  10. Drew says:

    Mike…Challenger Park…Off of Buena…from Irving to Montrose…

    Don’t forget there is also a School at Kenmore and Buena. .4 of a Mile from the School to Irving Prk Rd. I know from having worked in that area that the Kids from the School use the play lot at Buena Circle Park which is a whopping 100 Feet from Challenger Parks Dog area. And then there is the annoying little Kelly Playlot Park across the street from Challenger that runs from Irving south for 3 blocks and ends at about Grace.

    It’s a weasel technicality location at best to churn out cash from the led foots on Irv Prk Rd.

  11. The Parking Ticket Geek says:


    Thanks for pointing that out to me. I re-read that sentence/paragraph and it made no sense. I’ve made an update which clarifies that Ald. Arena is speaking about a speed cam in his own ward. Sorry and thanks for pointing out that I seem to be intellectually impaired more often these days.

  12. Ken says:

    I was nailed by the camera on 127th approaching Halsted this weekend. There is nothing near it. There is a school about 5 blocks away. I am waiting for the ticket to come in. After this I will never drive on Chicago streets again. When I drive out I go immediately to the nearest expressway.

  13. Mike H. says:

    I Just received a camera speeding ticket on 127th,can I challenge this ticket based on that there is no park there, even though on paper that area is called Major Taylor Bike Trail, definition of PARK does not apply to Bike Trail, I searched Park definition and there is no such thing Bike Trail.
    People are really tired of all the dirty games scams of City of Chicago and it is time to stop it.

  14. The Parking Ticket Geek says:

    Mike H.,

    You could contest it on the grounds you list, but I think you would end up losing.

    The Major Taylor Bike Trail is a big speed trap–a total scam.

    However, the bike trail is considered a park within the definition of the law despite the fact that everyone knows it’s really not a park in the way most people imagine parks (playground, ball parks, soccer fields, field house–actual kids and families walking around, etc.).


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