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Yes! Fixed photo radar cameras coming to four of Portland’s ‘high crash corridors’

Posted by on May 5th, 2016 at 12:39 pm

Ride Along with Ali Reis-38

This section of Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway is one of four locations that will be monitored by fixed photo radar cameras beginning this summer.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Portland’s fight against the epidemic of speeding on our streets is about to get real. Beginning August 1st of this year the city’s first unmanned fixed photo radar cameras will go into operation.

The new cameras will be installed by Xerox Corporation at four locations as per an ordinance adopted by Portland City Council yesterday (PDF). The ordinance calls for two cameras (facing each direction) that will be in operation 24 hours a day seven days a week at each location: Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway between 30th and 39th, SE 122nd between Foster and Powell, Marine Drive, and outer SE Division. The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) is focused on these locations because they are all on a list of “high crash corridors” that have a history of fatal crashes that’s at least 25 percent higher than normal.

From the city ordinance that passed yesterday.

From the city ordinance that passed yesterday. Note that people who speed through each of the camera locations will have one month of warnings before real citations go into effect.

This push for fixed photo radar cameras (which the City has smartly begun referring to as “safety cameras”) began well over three years ago when the Bicycle Transportation Alliance and other advocates started talking to state legislators about the idea. State law needed to be changed because the old law allowed cameras to be used only if a police officer was present and only if it moved around every few hours.

By 2015 the City of Portland made the speed camera issue a top legislative priority and the Oregon Legislature ultimately passed House Bill 2621 and Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed it into law in July.

The push for these cameras fits perfectly into the City of Portland’s committment to Vision Zero, an initiative PBOT Director Leah Treat has adopted as her top priority. PBOT data shows that 32 percent of all fatal crashes in Portland involve speeding. In an interview with KGW News yesterday Treat said, “We are going to be targeting aggressive drivers who are speeding… These are the corridors that pedestrians are dying, cyclists are dying and cars are in crashes.”

“Speeding and aggressive driving are top contributing factors to serious and fatal crashes… The program is a cornerstone of the City’s efforts to reduce speeding.”
— excerpt from ordinance that passed yesterday

The City of Portland currently manages 11 red light cameras. A report by the City Auditor last summer showed that those cameras are doing their job; but there are some key issues worth noting as we enter this new era of photo-enabled enforcement. One thing to watch is how this new program will be administered. For camera operations and citations to go smoothly, PBOT, the Portland Police Bureau, Multnomah County (traffic court), and Xerox (who will remain as owner of the cameras according to the memorandum of understanding) will all have to coordinate their systems and efforts. If there are weak links in the chain of processing citations, some of the tickets could be dismissed. In the City of Denver a report found that as many as one in three citations don’t hold up in court for a variety of reasons.

“This ambitious plan will require a level of coordination between Police and Transportation,” the City Auditor proclaimed in their analysis of the red light camera program, “that we did not find evidence of while conducting this audit.”

But let’s take a step back: This is great news! PBOT, Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick, the BTA, Oregon Walks (whose leader Noel Mickelberry testified at City Council yesterday), and all the other groups and individuals who changed the law and pushed for this program deserve a big high-five. The speeding epidemic won’t end overnight, but these cameras are a very big step forward in changing cultural norms around driving. And like we reported back in March, they just might allow us to finally flip the script on the scofflaw narrative.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

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NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for discrimination or harassment including expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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alankessler
Subscriber
alankessler

I hope as part of this the PPB will start ticketing drivers who install license plate covers to try to beat the cameras. There’s no legitimate purpose for those–doubly so for the tinted ones.

Alex Reedin
Guest
Alex Reedin

I know this is a complex, multi-jurisdictional implementation with lots of potential technological and practical problems, but taking almost a year to put in four cameras still makes me impatient given the level of need we have to curb dangerous driving. I hope the rate of installation is faster for the other 16 allowed for in the legislation (otherwise they’ll take almost an additional five years!)

Adam
Subscriber

Great news. Will the revenues generated from the cameras go directly into a fund to be used exclusively for further safety improvements? If not, they should be.

rick
Guest
rick

Why not lower the speed limit on BH Highway from 40 mph to 35 mph between Robert Grey Middle School and the Washington County line at SW 65th Ave? It is 35 in Raleigh Hills.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Something needs to be done about Marine Drive. The gaps in the MUP network there are unacceptable, giving the average speeds and amount of truck traffic. Why can’t they just shift the two lanes south and install a Jersey barrier, making space for an 8ft MUP on the north side, for the sections that do not have an off-street MUP?

soren
Subscriber

As far as I can tell there is no 20 camera limit in the bill. Where does this limit come from and is it really binding? Moreover, it is my understanding that PBOT is planning on expanding the number of high crash corridors so it seemt to me that this bill would likely apply to additional locations in the near future.

Spiffy
Subscriber

I could only find one part that stated the speed that drivers will be ticketed… 11 mph to 20 mph over the limit… so 35 in a 25 zone is ok as far as the police are concerned…

they’re also installing warning signs before the cameras…

a better option: no warning signs, tickets for going 3+ mph over the limit…

telling people that it’s ok to go 10 mph over the limit is not in line with Vision Zero…

and what of the people going more than 20 over? no fines? or more severe punishment?

I have zero faith in our policy makers… they simply don’t care about safety…

OKC Landscaping
Guest

This is pretty neat! Amazing how far tech has come!

mark ginsberg
Guest
mark ginsberg

This might be long. I accept that we need photo speeding cameras, they do work in getting better speed compliance. BUT what would also work is reducing posted speeds. State not City controls local speeds much more than they should, and that is a problem.

As for Photo cameras, if you read the ordinance, you will see that Xerox (formerly ACS- the collections company) gets paid FIRST and then if there is money after that it goes to city. So Xerox has a direct financial incentive to issue as many tickets as possible. My understanding from prior litigation is that the pay period is monthly, so every month Xerox wants to issue enough tickets to get themselves paid, and enough extra to give city some and help city justify the cameras as revenue generating.

From an incredibly over technical stand point, please also note that the chain of custody of the photos is not very good. When they were ACS they did not, in my opinion, do all the correct cleaning, maintenance and record keeping on their camera, and I doubt that has changed.

My understanding is that come Police officer gets and emailed copy of a citation, they review it and electronically sign it, then it gets mailed the defendant. The police don’t have the pictures, they don’t actually know when they were taken, they are trusting the outside vendor’s camera and computer when PPB have no actual control of those systems.

Less speeding is needed, I don’t love vendor driven cameras. If they are such a great deal why can’t city do it themselves and keep the very first dollar?

For those who don’t know me, yes I am an attorney, and yes I’ve handled these cases. (and MAYBE I am a little cranky right now.)

Mark Ginsberg

Kristi Finney Dunn
Guest

I also want to thank Kim Stone of Oregon and SW Washington Families For Safe Streets for her very first time testifying. Her son was killed at the intersection of Division and 156th. I believe cameras will be installed very near there.

I testified before the Legislature in 2015. They were quite concerned about the warnings, that drivers had to be 11+ over the limit, that this was not about revenue. I agree that 11 over is ridiculous but this is at least a start. And the goal is to get them to slow down, not ticket them. I thank PBOT especially because I know staff worked very hard on this. I know they care.

Tom
Guest
Tom

Why fixed locations. It will only take a day and everyone will know where they are. Put them on mobile speed carts and move them around every few days.

Stephen ODonnell
Guest
Stephen ODonnell

With the NSA’s help. we can install enough cameras that every inch of road is monitored. We then lower the speed limit on all roads to 20 mph – after all, no one dies at that speed. Jail every speeder.
In the meantime, you guys can have your shriveled testicles surgically removed, and can exchange them for $ 50 coupons at most naturopathic incense shops.

HJ
Guest
HJ

Nice idea but watch the # of illegal license plate covers explode. Not to mention the folks who just put clear reflective stickers over theirs, harder to see at a glance but still effective with photo radar.
Watch the cops continue to do nothing about the folks skirting around the law. Just like they do nothing about all the idiots using cell phones behind the wheel. SMDH

still riding after all that
Guest
still riding after all that

Am I the only one who recognizes that speed limits and driving habits CAN and SHOULD be different under different conditions? Night, dark, heavy rain – speed limit lower; daytime, good visibility, good weather – speed limit higher. Rush hour, hundreds of cars passing every minute – lower speed; light traffic, only a few cars per minute – higher speed.

Traffic volume measuring devices are widespread. If we can put sensors on Barbur to detect bicyclists and flash lights to warn drivers of BICYCLE ON BRIDGE, we can have variable “reasonable and prudent” speed limits. Setting speed limits artificially low – the worst possible conditions limit – is a tool for revenue generation, not safety.

Arizona (and other places) have different limits for day and night. Google finds photos of signs that say SPEED LIMIT 45 and NIGHT 40, or SPEED LIMIT 80 and NIGHT 65. They use special paint so the day limit is very hard to read at night.

https://www.google.com/search?tbm=isch&tbs=rimg%3ACdOnnDmHFXX9IjjVI-BpCy7ARVwDAdd8VMr4z5j5uPJJiMOFbCP1qLkeN1IoEKNGvkGPbOsy1SunHEXTLzVJV1cJGyoSCdUj4GkLLsBFEcVV7rAJp35GKhIJXAMB13xUyvgR9CbeArLfUZEqEgnPmPm48kmIwxFv6SaTExNJjyoSCYVsI_1WouR43EarIQmBdI2kcKhIJUigQo0a-QY8RuSwVqDFXnfAqEgls6zLVK6ccRRG1aqDF-E3BuCoSCdMvNUlXVwkbEbgJoWB9en5o&q=photo%20arizona%202%20speed%20limits&ved=0ahUKEwip9q_QzM3MAhUO8mMKHX8KCyYQ9C8ICQ&dpr=1.5&biw=1280&bih=673

Andy K
Guest
Andy K

We’re just a few days away from the scheduled start date for the speed radar system on BHH. Has anyone noticed if it’s already been installed?

LC Greene
Guest

The cops can’t be everywhere. The cameras are a great tool, just like speed-limit signs are a tool. The real control lies in the competency of the drivers and the bike riders. Share the road and be nice.