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Red light camera captures 226 violations on first day

Posted by on October 12th, 2007 at 2:11 pm

From a press release issued by the City of Portland, Office of Transportation:


(PORTLAND, OR) – Beginning Monday, October 15, at 12:01 a.m., motorists who run a red light on SW 4th at Jefferson will receive a $245 fine after the newly installed red light camera flashes their photograph that Portland Police officers use to generate a citation. The red light camera on SW 4th at Jefferson was turned on Wednesday, October 10, at 4:00 p.m. On its first day of operation (through October 11 at 3:00 a.m.), the camera captured 226 red light violations out of a total 3,011 vehicles. During a test period that continues until Monday, Portland Police are checking the violation photos and mailing warning letters to vehicles and drivers that would have been issued a citation.

The new installation is the first of six additional red light camera locations approved by Portland City Council in June of this year. The cameras, authorized by the Oregon Legislature in 1999, capture vehicles and their drivers running red lights and are meant to reduce crashes caused by this dangerous and illegal behavior.

The intersection of SW 4th at Jefferson had 29 red light crashes in the last four years. Below is a list of the other five intersections to receive the cameras. Each has a history of high numbers of crashes caused by red light running in the last four years.

  • SE Washington at 103rd – 35 red light crashes
  • SE Stark at 99th – 19 red light crashes
  • SE Stark at 102nd – 44 red light crashes
  • SE Foster at 96th – 53 red light crashes
  • NE Broadway at Vancouver – 28 red light crashes

Traffic specialists say that when red light violations occur, they most often result in an angle or turning collision. These broadside collisions, also known as right-angle or T-bone collisions, are especially dangerous because the sides are the most vulnerable areas of cars.

“The most serious crashes that occur at intersections are caused by someone running a red light,” says Sergeant Dan Costello of the Portland Police Bureau’s Traffic Division. In Portland, turning and angle crashes are 2.5 times more likely to result in serious injuries and fatalities than rear-end crashes. “Adding six more cameras will further decrease these types of crashes,” says Costello.

With this latest installation, there are now seven red light cameras operating at six intersections in Portland, enforcing the entering traffic as follows:

  • SW 4th at Jefferson, northbound approach
  • E Burnside at Grand Avenue, northbound approach
  • NE Sandy Blvd at 39th Avenue, westbound approach
  • NE Sandy Blvd at 39th Avenue, northbound approach
  • SE Grand Avenue at Madison Street, northbound approach
  • W Burnside at 19th Avenue, eastbound approach
  • NE Broadway at Grand Avenue, westbound approach

Studies show that Portland’s red light camera program has reduced red light running at existing camera intersections and the injuries and fatalities that red light running causes.

“No matter how pressed for time you are, please stop for a red light,” says City Commissioner Sam Adams. “Gambling on saving a minute or two by running a red light could kill or seriously injure you or someone else. Red light running has very serious consequences.”

Two City agencies administer the program. The Police Bureau reviews and signs the issued citations to the drivers, provides officers to testify if the driver requests a trial, and works with program vendors on maintenance issues. The Portland Office of Transportation manages maintenance of the cameras and monitors the effectiveness of the cameras. Both agencies are responsible for choosing which intersections receive the cameras. Locations are selected for red light camera enforcement because they have high numbers of crashes caused by red light running compared to other intersections in the city.

The next new red light camera will be installed on SE Washington at 103rd within three to six weeks.

For more information about the red light camera program, go to the City of Portland’s website at www.portlandonline.com, and in the search field, type: red light running.


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  • Todd B October 12, 2007 at 3:37 pm

    Hmmm…I guess motorists run red lights AND stop signs too. 7.5% of them to be correct!

    Where are all those motorists who post on this blog (and other blogs) and pound on the bicycling community for bicyclists who run stop signs?

    The silence will be deafening.

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  • Jessica Roberts October 12, 2007 at 3:46 pm

    Woo hoo!!!!!!!!!!!

    I love me some red light cameras.

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  • a.O October 12, 2007 at 3:47 pm

    Until all you car drivers out there learn to obey the rules of the road, you should just stay off it!! You\’re never going to be accepted as equal road ussers by the bike community acting like this. You don\’t belong on the road anyway – two tons of metal is far too dangerous to be BLOWING THROUGH RED LIGHTS LIKE THE RULES DON\’T APPLY TO YOU.

    You damn car-driving hipppie terrorists disgust me. The only reason you probably drive a car is because you\’re too scared of people just like yourself to ride a bike.

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  • a.O October 12, 2007 at 4:13 pm


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  • Tom C October 13, 2007 at 8:17 am

    I was heading north (on my bike commute home) on SW 4th about 7:30PM Wednesday when the flash of the new red light camera went off. The VW Golf just to my left and slightly in front of me had anticipated the light change and entered the intersection a fraction too early- think we were both surprised by the bright flash, Didn\’t even have time to smile. (-:

    And speaking of red lights, to the young male cyclist who \”blew\” the light heading south on NE 15th at Weidler last night about 5:15PM, you could have at least stopped and apologized to the woman you brushed (read \”crushed\” had she not seen you at the last second) as she entered the crosswalk, with the crossing signal in her favor.

    Ride responsibly.

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  • jim-b October 13, 2007 at 9:25 am

    EVERYONE needs to obey the laws. My motorhead neighbor videotaped our corner intersection, which includes a bike route:

    – 74 of 75 cars stopped
    – 121 of 124 bikes didn\’t stop

    now he\’s even more insufferable.

    Obey the law and help us all.

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  • rixtir October 13, 2007 at 10:25 am



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  • a.O October 13, 2007 at 11:28 am

    rixter, I was just wondering if you had any comment on this. This is what I was referencing the other day with regard to my observations of drivers downtown.

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  • rixtir October 13, 2007 at 11:42 am

    7.5% of drivers running red lights, and what, 95% of cyclists running red lights? And you think motorists are the dysfunctional element that needs to clean up its act?

    the young male cyclist who \”blew\” the light heading south on NE 15th at Weidler last night about 5:15PM, you could have at least stopped and apologized to the woman you brushed (read \”crushed\” had she not seen you at the last second) as she entered the crosswalk, with the crossing signal in her favor.

    Happens all the time downtown, a.O. Most cyclists in this town are assholes who could care less about who gets hurt by their irresponsible behavior, but will let loose with a law and order rant worthy of the most rabid right-winger when a motorist breaks the law.

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  • a.O October 13, 2007 at 3:41 pm

    Where are you getting that 95% number, rixter? I think you\’re making it up. But the motorist data are facts. I guess if you\’re just going to recite your previous opinion – us v them, bad cyclists v good motorists – rather than consider what these data might mean, then we\’re probably not going to have a productive discussion.

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  • rixtir October 13, 2007 at 4:08 pm

    Of course I\’m making it up. But I think it\’s pretty close to accurate. If you don\’t think it is, take me up on my challenge. We monitor an intersection, and count the number of cars that stop for the light, and the number that run the light. We do the same thing in regards to bikes.

    I\’m willing to stand by my assertion that the VAST majority of Portland cyclists run red lights, and the VAST majority of those who run red lights do it without slowing and without looking.

    And the VAST mjority of them will let fly the finger if the person whose right of way was just violated complains about it. That father who posed here, whose five year old got buzzed by a red light runner? He got the finger too.

    If you think I\’m wrong, you\’re welcome to take me up on my challenge. We can even have diiner or lunch afterwards, and I\’ll even buy if I\’m wrong.

    As far as what the data might mean, it means that as a percentage of the cycling public, most cyclists have absolutely no regard for right of way, but will squeal like babies the moment their right of way gets violated.

    For motorists, it means an unacceptably large percentage of them– 7.5%– are also disrgearding right of way.

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  • rixtir October 13, 2007 at 4:22 pm

    By the way, a.O., you are fabricating out of thin air what you refer to as my \”previous opinion.\” Talk about behavior that leads to unproductive discussion…

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  • a.O October 13, 2007 at 4:49 pm

    I don\’t think I am fabricating your previous opinion, rixter. You\’ve always maintained that most cyclists violate the rules and most motorists don\’t. Am I wrong?

    As far as your \”challenge,\” let\’s go! If close to 95% of cyclists run the light, I buy dinner. If less, you do. Right?

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  • rixtir October 13, 2007 at 5:37 pm

    I think I\’ve misunderstood you then, when you say \”Us vs. Them,\” because I\’ve always maintained that I don\’t buy into that mentality.

    I agree that almost everybody violates the rules, but the rules they choose to violate differ. Motorists choose to violate the speed limit, cyclists choose to violate the traffic signs/signals. MOST motorists don\’t run red lights. MOST cyclists don\’t violate the speed limits.

    I don\’t really care what they\’re operating; in my opinion, nobody has the right to do whatever they damn well please, and I find it laughable that cyclists complain about those law-breaking motorists, just as I find it laughable that motorists complain about those law-breaking cyclists.

    I\’m not entirely sure that I\’m willing to stand firmly by \”95%\”– after all, I did just make that number up ourt of thin air– but I am willing to stand by \”most cyclists,\” or even a \”super majority of cyclists.\” Let\’s figure out some percentage that represents significantly more than 50% plus one, and we\’ll do the survey (of course, if you want to hold me to 95%, I\’ll do it, but I\’ve already said I made that number up.).

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  • Tbird October 13, 2007 at 6:15 pm

    Great! I love the idea.

    Can we get some speed cameras on Clinton? (and any other bike blvd) More and more lately it seems like a race track at rush hour.

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  • a.O October 13, 2007 at 8:55 pm

    I\’m pretty confident I\’ll get a free dinner on 95%, and I don\’t bet very often. But I figured you\’d backpedal on that. If you agree that both cyclists and motorists break the rules, then why do you single out cyclists as \”assholes\” but not motorists? This really puts people on the defensive, and in my view is simply divisive without being constructive.

    Moreover, the cyclists who are breaking the rules are angering others in the community and giving cycling a bad name, whereas drivers who are breaking the rules are angering others in the community and giving drivers a bad name AND killing people. Both are bad; the latter is worse, IMHO.

    I just think advocating for education, engineering, and reasonable enforcement is better than singling out cyclists and calling them names. I feel like you always come back to this and that your deep-seated anger toward cyclists is what lead you to jump the gun on attributing fault to the cyclist in the Max accident (and perhaps elsewhere?). (As an aside, I meant to post on that thread thanking you for your last post and making clear that we all do this sometimes.)

    Anyway, as for the challenge, you\’re going to have to make a decision on what you really think is happening. What percentage of cyclists are running red lights?

    Meet me next Friday at 5pm at the northwest corner of SW 1st and Madison? This is the last light before heading east on the Hawthorne bridge out of downtown and the northwest corner will give us a good view of the light. I take this route every day and it\’s easy to get up good mo heading downhill and have the light change on you. My experience has been that cyclists run this light occasionally.

    You tell me what percentage will (a) not stop without looking, (b) not stop but slow and look, and (c) stop.

    Then you pick an intersection and we\’ll do the same. Maybe one on SE Clinton?

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  • rixtir October 14, 2007 at 3:27 pm

    I\’m fairly confident that I\’ll lose at 95%. But I\’m fine with losing. I\’m actually more interested in getting some data, even if it\’s only informal data.

    My best guess is that 95% is at the extreme of the upper end, and that 65% is at the extreme of the lower end, and the actual figures are probably somewhere between 75% and 85%.

    To answer your question, about why I singled out cyclists as \”assholes,\” and not motorists, it\’s because \”most\” cyclists show no regard for right of way, and they even get belligerent about it if anybody has the backbone to say something. That pretty much describes asshole behavior. As examples, I referred to the cyclist who hit a pedestrian in the crosswalk, and the cyclist who buzzed a five year old and then flippped off the father. Pure asshole behavior.

    And I\’m perfectly fine with pointing that out, even if it pisses assholes off. They\’re pissed off? Good. I\’ll be glad to tell them where they can shove their indignation.

    Of course, feel free to make a counter-argument that these jerks on bikes are not assholes.

    On the other hand, \”most\” motorists don\’t disregard right of way (as indicated by disregard of traffic rules at intersections), and that is why I didn\’t single them out.

    While I think it\’s true that a motor vehicle is more likely to kill than a bicycle, I reject any argument that a bicycle can\’t kill. In fact, cyclists have killed pedestrians, other cyclists, and even motorists when they\’ve disregarded right of way. They don\’t get a free pass from me just because they aren\’t spewing exhaust out a tailpipe.

    For what it\’s worth, I got right-hooked on my way to the memorial ride on Firday, and I called that driver a \”stupid fuck.\” She doesn\’t get a free pass from me just because she\’s in a car.

    On the Max incident, the initial eyewitness account in Jonathan\’s report was that he tried to beat the train, and failed. Furthermore, about a week before that incident, I watched a young woman on a bike cut across the Max within approximately 10 feet of the approaching train, and when the driver sounded his horn, she flipped him off. Earlier this year, there were two other crashes involving cyclists disregarding the Max right of way. It wasn\’t too difficult to conclude that the eyewitness account of the Max incident was accurate.

    Anyway, I\’m willing to go with the 95%, although I think I will lose that one, if it will get us on the ground gathering some admittedly informal data.

    However, I will have to make it in November, because I have a deadline I can\’t miss that will keep me busy through October, and also because I will need to get paid before I lose this bet. So, schedule for sometime in November? And pick a restaurant I can afford…. 🙂

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  • a.O October 14, 2007 at 3:54 pm

    I think maybe you missed my point. I\’m not debating whether the behavior you describes makes these people \”assholes\” or whether they\’re more to blame than people who do similarly dangerous things in motor vehicles. I\’m just saying you seem to be taking the wrong approach to the whole thing, IMHO.

    Let\’s just go collect data and see what happens. I don\’t care about betting on anything. You let me know when you want to go.

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  • dpr October 14, 2007 at 8:55 pm

    I hardly ever see bicycle riders in downtown Portland stop for red lights or stop signs unless there is a cop around.

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  • motorist October 14, 2007 at 10:36 pm

    Why is it that motorcycles have to have a headlight on day and night but bicycles arn\’t?

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  • peejay October 15, 2007 at 3:43 pm

    Here we go again!

    You know, I bet that of all people who ride and drive, their behavior in each mode is consistent with those who only ride or drive. Which means: it\’s not the people; it\’s the vehicle. A lot of people (notice I said people, not bicyclists) blow off stopsigns when on bikes because they (rightly or wrongly) don\’t see the point in stopping. Now, take those same people and put them in cars, and you\’ll find that they mostly stop at lights, but blow the speed limits.

    So it\’s not us vs them. It\’s that we take all take different risks when in different situations. I\’ve been trying to stop more at lights when on my bike, and also in the few times I drive, trying to follow the speed limits more. It\’s the same thing. It\’s just people who fuck up and the way they fuck up depends on what vehicle they\’re operating at the time. That said, when those people fuck up in cars, they kill 42,000 people a year; when they fuck up on bikes, it\’s a number that\’s quite a bit less. I\’ll bet less than 100. Maybe more than ten.

    The solution is to evenhandedly address the behavior of all road users such that they no longer feel it\’s acceptable to take chances with traffic laws. We did it a generation ago with littering; we can do it again with traffic laws.

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  • peejay October 15, 2007 at 3:45 pm

    Of course that depends on the laws being fair in both cases!

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  • a.O October 15, 2007 at 3:49 pm

    peejay, I think given how difficult it is to effect lasting compliance with traffic laws, the limited resources available for enforcement and other solution strategies, the terrible environmental consequences of driving, and the value of human life, the solution is to focus first on the behaviors that kill the most people: Breaking traffic laws while driving.

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  • cla October 15, 2007 at 4:09 pm

    \”Most cyclists in this town are assholes who could care less about who gets hurt by their irresponsible behavior, \”

    Really? I may not stop at some stop signs because I\’ve been riding uphill for 2 miles and get tired of stopping, but if I accidentally hit someone in this process I would put my day to a halt and make sure they got propper care and do whatever was needed to ensure reconciliation.

    What would the rest of us do?

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  • peejay October 15, 2007 at 4:27 pm

    Yes, I agree. But I believe that whatever instills a willingness to obey laws while driving will naturally leak over into biking, too, for the most part. Because it\’s the same people. Some people (rixtir) seem to think that drivers will only be obligated to obey laws when all bikers do so, and that I don\’t agree with.

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  • rixtir October 15, 2007 at 6:40 pm

    peejay, I agree with everything you said in Post 21. However, I have to say that I in no way believe that drivers will only be obligated to obey laws when all bikers do (or vice versa, for that matter.).

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  • rixtir October 15, 2007 at 6:42 pm

    cla, post 24, it would please me to no end to be wrong on that point.

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  • Todd Boulanger October 15, 2007 at 11:59 pm

    Also…there may be another deeper thread here…imagine if car drivers had side street loop detectors that would not turn on and signal a call for the signal to change…this is the struggle many cyclists have at intesections (Hi drivers)…some say just tip your bike over to the loop for a call, but if one has a child on a seat or groceries this is more difficult if not unsafe…(it would be like a driver having to stop get out of their car and walk over to the push button – sounds like a good idea…then we all would have to stop 😉

    But seriously…many of the US road facilities are disfunctional for bicyclists (the engineering profession cannot decide if we are pedestrians or vehicles)…this then leds to much of the disdain for traffic laws.

    Please in town treat us like vehicles…human powered vehicles…make if safe and easy for us to get around. We promise to then begin to behave.

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