Traffic cameras can expand statewide in Oregon thanks to a bill signed Monday by Governor Tina Kotek.
Currently just ten cities are permitted to use cameras to enforce speed limits — Albany, Beaverton, Bend, Eugene, Gladstone, Medford, Milwaukie, Oregon City, Portland, and Tigard. House Bill 2095 gives that power to all cities in the state. Beyond just the use of cameras use, the bill also eliminates the limitation on the number of hours per day photo radar can be used at any one location. The bill also gives jurisdictions the authority to set designated speeds on certain types of residential streets at up to 10 miles below the statutory speed (provided it’s not less than 20 mph), instead of doing so in increments of five miles per hour at at time (as current law allows).
HB 2095 builds on years of lobbying by City of Portland officials to expand the use of cameras and to give cities more flexibility in how speed limits are set.
At a February legislative hearing, the bill received support from many city leaders. Beaverton Mayor Lacey Beaty told lawmakers at the Joint Committee on Transportation that cameras have been very helpful in reducing speeds. One stat that jumped out of her testimony was that 75% of the citations were given to drivers who lived outside of Beaverton. “Which tells me that education and awareness is high among our residents, and visitors need to slow the heck down in our neighborhoods.” When it comes to the law that required city transportation engineers to only notch speeds down by five miles per hour at a time, Beaty said, “Cities that want to adjust 10 miles an hour reduction from say 35 to 25 must go through the entire process twice. The two-step process not only adds time and cost to cities looking to improve our own traffic safety; but it makes no sense to community members looking for safer streets.”
One of the chief proponents of HB 2095 was the League of Oregon Cities. Their Legislative Director Jim McCauley said, “All 241 cities should have access to mobile and fixed radar. It’s as simple as that.”
Salem Mayor Chris Hoy said after they installed cameras at three intersections and saw a 51% decrease in red light running and an 87% reduction in traffic crashes (even taking into account increased traffic volume). “Think of what we could do if we could use this tool at more locations,” he shared with legislators in February. “Think of the lives we could save.”
Several concerns were raised about this expansion in camera use. Taylor Steenblock with Mutnomah County said they worry the location of cameras can “be a little bit of a regressive effect.” “Our BIPOC and lower-income communities have been pushed further out into the margins and because they often rely on roads that haven’t had safety improvements and more often rely on [cars], they can be subject to impacts from traffic cameras.”
Joint Committee on Transportation member House Rep. Lew Frederick (D-Portland) voted in support of the bill, but these concerns. “We need to make sure that you’re tracking just how it’s being used, who’s being charged, and how much money is being generated,” he said, citing irresponsible use of the cameras by some Oregon cities in the past.
If cities implement proper oversight and implementation, traffic cameras can be a boon for behavior change and safety on our roads. It will be very interesting to watch how and and if cities across Oregon approach the use of speed cameras.
Learn more about HB 2095 here.
If you don’t want to be subject to impacts from traffic cameras, then don’t speed or run red lights. Simple as that. This quoted statement from Ms. Steenblock suggests that she believes that racial minorities and low-income people are incapable of following traffic laws. Quite a racist and classist thing to believe, if I do say so myself.
I assume that you have never once exceeded the speed limit or gunned through a stale yellow, blank space. I will also assume that you are incapable of understanding that concentration of enforcement in one particular area might lead to more people being ticketed in that area.
I have indeed done the first of those things. But we all know that the cameras are not going to ticket anyone who goes 1 mph above the speed limit, just like all the current ones don’t. If I’m going fast enough for the cameras to ticket me, then I deserve a ticket, regardless of what the threshold is. And as for going through a stale yellow, if the light is red before I enter the intersection then I 100% deserve any ticket coming my way. As far as I’m aware I have never ran a red light myself.
Great…so you deserve a ticket….but if you live in a mostly white upper-class neighborhood you’ll never get one. There is an easy fix to this: make equity a priority in the distribution of cameras.
The most equitable camera placement is where they will protect those facing the most dangerous road conditions. Putting one in an area with few crashes because “white people live there” means giving a privileged community protection at the cost of another that needs it more. Cameras are still a scarce resource, and we need to prioritize those who most need them. Isn’t that the essence of transportation equity?
Rather than seeing things through the eyes of a dangerous driver, try looking at things from the perspective of someone trying to cross the street safely. Cameras offer protection to the most vulnerable.
PBOT’s unwillingness to install cameras is not evidence that they are a scarce resource. There are dozens on companies that sell speed cameras. Heck, I could buy some myself and have them delivered in a week or two.
What does that mean to you and what is the expectation? That the outcomes are the same no matter the inputs? Like what would actually satisfy your complaint here?
Safety should be the priority of the distrubtion of the cameras. I’d ideally like them everywhere, but it’s silly to prioritize areas that don’t have high crash rates to get some equity kudos.
The whole point is to get people to slow down, not make a statement of race relations.
The binary choice is a false one. Also our high crash network extends into affluent neighborhoods so no compromises are necessary.
75% of current camera installations are in outer east portland. There are plenty of high crash network roads outside of this small slice of Portland. We can install cameras in outer E Portland AND on Sandy, Broadway, Barbur, MLK, Powell, Lombard, Interstate west of 205.
We have a grand total of 6 cameras at this point (technically 5 because someone blasted the Marine Dr one a few months ago). Hard to draw conclusions when the sample size is so small.
I spend a lot of time in outer-east Portland, both by car and bike, and the average speeds are definitely higher than the areas west of 205. It isn’t shocking that the first few cameras went in out there.
The law states that if the light turns red while you’re in the intersection then you have run the red light. Also, your white privleage is showing…
Assuming speed cameras are set up at permanent locations I would expect that it would indeed lead to an increase of enforcement and ticketing in a *very* concentrated area.
Not to mention ENTRAPMENT! Has anyone forgot about that?! Like WTF?! okay so we are turning into China, might as well give me credits online now! SCREW THIS!
I assume you mean unsafe corridors or are you inferring something more nefarious?
Are you incapable of understanding that BIPOC and Low SES communities suffer disporportionately large #’s of traffic deaths?
No one stands to gain more from safety improvements than they do.
I absolutely agree with you. I’m getting really perturbed by her law’s without thinking of the consequences. Arrrrrr
My interpretation of Steenblock’s comment is that we need to be weary to not only put the traffic cameras at the the most dangerous intersections as the concentration of dangerous intersection is centered around lower income communities.
I think it is unfair to say “just don’t speed” when the road network on the east side is actively hostile and encourages far faster speeds than the posted limits. To then litter the area with speed cameras is just setting up everyone for failure and over-policing.
Let’s see traffic cameras everywhere, not just communities that have unsafe streets from years of disinvestment.
How exactly does a road network encourage “far faster speeds”? Allows for? Probably, but let’s stop giving drivers excuses for illegal actions. It’s just not that hard to follow the rules of the road. Play stupid games, earn stupid prizes.
Wide straight roads with no obstacles, multiple lanes with big shoulders, limited intersections and crossings, and lack of traffic calming measures. Look at a lot of roads in east portland vs inner neighborhoods. One intrinsically encourages speeding, where the other encourages slower safer speeds.
I’m not giving an excuse to speeding drivers, just giving a word of caution of why only focusing at historically dangerous intersections could have negative consequences. East Portland has roads that promote unsafe driving and is a concentrated area of lower income people. That is important context to consider where implementing speed cameras
You just illustrated why Low SES and BIPOC people suffer far more traffic deaths than their more privileged peers.
Funny how you think that slowing traffic in their neighborhoods is somehow an injustice. Especially considering how much of that traffic is from outside their neighborhood.
It is very simple – if the speed limit sign says 25mph then don’t go over 30 since the threshold is usually +9mph.
Wide open streets encourage speeding? CHOOSE NOT TO SPEED.
It is that simple. If you can’t do it, you don’t belong in a car.
Cameras are a double edge sword. On one hand they have the potential to slow down traffic and improve safety. The other hand it is another form of policing. I support speed cameras wholeheartedly, I am just saying lets be mindful of unintended potential negative impacts that clustering them in one area can do.
Unfortunately us humans need “policing”. To think otherwise just leads us to mayhem, which is exactly where we have landed here in Portland.
“I think it is unfair to say “just don’t speed” when the road network on the east side is actively hostile and encourages far faster speeds than the posted limits. To then litter the area with speed cameras is just setting up everyone for failure and over-policing.”
I live in East Portland. I occasionally drive. It’s absolutely possible to not speed and not run red lights, even on these big, wide and straight East Portland streets. I’m capable of it. Everyone is. Some people don’t care to do this and they can be ticketed until they figure out what they’re doing wrong.
I’m not saying its impossible vs possible, just that certain roads encourage certain behaviors and the largest collection of those roads are in east portland.
Sure, I don’t disagree with you at all. East Portland streets are largely straight and wide. Great for late night drag racing!
I don’t speed when I drive because I don’t want a ticket, I don’t want to hurt others and most importantly, I don’t want to hurt myself. Me, I’m top priority here. Why others don’t feel the same is beyond me. They don’t need to feel the same but if they insist on speeding, even if a cop doesn’t see them, I’d like them to get a ticket (and a ticket that really stings).
It’s not my fault, the road made me do it!
Just a quick reminder that East Portland is predominantly white.
I never mentioned race.
Indeed you did not. I responded to the wrong comment. My apologies.
Yeah, it’s totally not racist to say that BIPOC citizens can’t follow basic traffic laws…
I would like to know where she even gets her perspective, where is the BIPOC neighborhood at in Portland because I would visit if there was one…
It’s just one concern of many, and a valid one. That doesn’t mean it needs to hold things up, or even that this person thinks the concern should hold up implementation. Just a fact that needs to be considered. That’s all. It’s better that they voice their concern and have it on record than to just be quiet.
In regards to BIPOC folks being pushed to more car dependent areas, therefore being more car dependent, therefore being more likely to receive citations: I just don’t buy that as a reason to not implement speed cameras. I’m all for sliding scale fines for low income folks to help mitigate some of this impact to the extent that it’s real. I also don’t think that just because you are forced into car dependent areas you must drive unsafely and thus receive tickets, so I’m don’t necessarily see that it’s a disproportionate burden on BIPOC communities in that respect.
What I do think is a massive disproportionate burden is the much higher rates of death and injury for BIPOC folks who are pushed out into these areas. It’s a choice to drive safely, it’s not a choice to be hit by someone else. We know that in Oregon (and elsewhere) BIPOC communities face injury and death at much higher rates. If cameras can lower speeds and consequently injury rates, I don’t see this as being disproportionately burdensome on BIPOC communities.
Am I missing something? Actually looking for feedback on my initial read on this.
Comment of the week! You are more eloquent than I am 🙂
Do you have a link to more BIPOC traffic deaths?
You might be correct although 70% of the pedestrian deaths last year (2023) were homeless folks that are mostly not BIPOC in this city.
That is a very disturbing statistic which is happening solely because they are living on the streets and needs to be addressed and is one area where the right actions can certainly eliminate deaths immediately.
Steenblock isn’t against speed cameras as she did vote in favor of this bill.
Its the same argument with sending police officers to a high crime area. It’s a choice to commit a crime and not a choice to be robbed, crime negatively impacts the people living in the area the most, the highest crime areas are low income neighborhoods. If police officers can make an area more safe, than we should send police officers to prevent crime from being committed.
That is definitional term of over-policing and the same thing can happen with too many speed cameras. Speed cameras can help, but it’s not the panacea of road safety. Other forms of infrastructure and community investments need to be made.
The big if in there was “If police officers can make an area more safe,”
It’s not such a big if in the case of cameras.
They aren’t a panacea, but they are an effective tool in the arsenal that we have been restrained from using for too long.
Race-biased targeting of cameras to neighborhoods where BIPOC are overrepresented is a choice and not a fait accompli. We can install cameras along high-crash networks AND install cameras on arterials/bridges in upper-class neighborhoods.
In this hyper-libertarian flat tax state this has about as much of a chance of happening as pigs cycling.
I feel like this part is nearly worthless. The only statutory residential speed limit in Oregon is 25 mph (https://www.oregon.gov/odot/engineering/pages/speed-zones.aspx). Senate Bill 558 from 2019 allowed all cities to implement “20 is Plenty” campaigns and reduce the residential speed limits from 25 to 20 through an ordinance. Now cities can go down 10 mph, but must remain at least 20 mph. Anyone else see the issue here?
yeah I’m a little puzzled here as I’m a bit ignorant on the history of this rule. I’m hoping to push for 15mph on neighborhood streets in my city’s upcoming TSP update. I guess this means that’s not possible?
How did PBOT get to 15 for the greenways?
Actually, in Oregon there are several statutory speed limits that this would apply to:
Is there still a requirement for police officer to review the citations? It’s my understanding that it is the lack of officers to review citations that has limited the number of cameras so far.
I think that requirement got removed in the last legislative session.
2022 House Bill 4105 removed the requirement of police officers
The bill states
Relating to traffic offenses.: Authorizes duly authorized traffic enforcement agents to review and issue citations based on photographs taken by photo red light cameras or photographs taken by photo radar cameras.
In other words since their issuing a citation they are still required to be an officer of the court.
This is like coming home to find your dog has made a mess on the carpet. Anything you do to discipline the dog is a waste of time, they are too far removed from the action to associate the punishment with said action.
Does a driver caught on speed camera even remember the incident when they receive the citation? Do they learn anything? Yes the learn not to speed in areas with cameras. You just move the problem somewhere else.
Want to impact driving, put a cop out on the road. Amazing what a marked cruiser does for traffic calming. And that cruiser can be anywhere in the city, not just a static location. One officer writing one citation on the side of the road does more for traffic safety than any speed camera will do.
Displaying wrecked cars (from a junkyard) does much the same thing when placed at strategic corners, on medians, etc.
Besides it being kind of obvious that you would be more likely to moderate your speed *in general* after getting a ticket, and that I think they tell you where you were when they caught you speeding, this very article cites actual evidence of how the cameras reduced speeding by 50% and crashes by 87%.
No they don’t just move somewhere else. The arterials are the arterials. They’re the fastest way to get anywhere by car.The cameras reduce the number of routes you can take through a city that you can speed on without a ticket.Uh, you keep adding new cameras. Seems obvious.
You clearly haven’t driven near any of the existing cameras. Everyone is cruising at 10-15mph over and just before the camera, everyone slows down to about 5mph over, before speeding back up again.
People learn quickly, and they know where the cameras are. This is why we need them everywhere. We need to get to the point where they are so common that you basically have to expect a ticket at any point. This is how you get near-total compliance.
Hopefully this will also encourage some level of enforcement around missing and obscured plates designed to evade automated enforcement. Personally I think we should be empower parking enforcement personnel to have any vehicle without plates or with a cover designed to prevent the plate from being photographed immediately impounded to a tow yard. Some of the sketchiest driving I see is being done by drivers who don’t have valid visible plates.
Just what the public needs, big brother monitoring your every move.
Maybe resources should be focused on real problems like robbery, assault, vandalism. Got cameras for that? No, there’s no revenue in it.
Oregon was a much better place to live when the hippies were abundant and civil libertarianism was front and center. Having big brother with revenue producing cameras everywhere just makes me feel sick. Revenue in the name of safety is a bad driver tax. It feels wrong.
Dumb I hate this idea probably have face recognition tracer to follow you were ever you go I don’t try to speed I think this intrapment hopefully there not happen show have a pink stone light on so know it’s there I could think way better things to spend money where’s the funding coming from dos this mean higher gas tax more money for title registration and tag fees or income taxes or what pay for out of her own pocket if she wants so I think us the people should have been able to vote on it but even that is probably riged I bet if this hit voter pamphlet the people say no
Cameras or no cameras,it’s none of my business.
It’s unfortunate that we live in a society that needs dystopian levels of civilian surveillance to combat the inability for its citizens to extend basic courtesy to one another.
My concern is when traveling through the rural streets of Oregon, there’s going to be speed traps set up without posted speed limits, and then getting ticketed. It might be hundreds of miles away from home so you can’t even afford to drive back to that town to fight the ticket. You end up paying a bogus ticket.
Oregon Department of Transportation : Oregon Driver Manual – Section 2: Lane Travel : Oregon Driver & Motor Vehicle Services : State of Oregon
Speed limit there is 55mph unless otherwise posted.
BIPOCs behind the wheels of cars are just as deadly as everyone else. They should be punished just like everyone else for dangerous behaviors.
so if i’m reading this right, salem is currently not allowed to use speed cameras? i received an automated speeding ticket in 2022 courtesy of a speed camera. anyone have thoughts on that?
Any city that operates photo red light cameras can operate photo speed cameras at those locations. See ORS 810.437. Since Salem operates photo red light cameras, I’d guess that’s what issued your speeding ticket.
Very soon , we’ll be walking faster than driving
Well this is going to get abused.
I can’t wait to leave the state I was born and raised in. The government is psycho . No longer proud to be a Oregonian.
Because you can’t drive 10mph over the speed limit wherever you want? That’s the final straw for you?
Just more laws and AI influencing how we live.
Better Idea would be to outlaw all motor vehicles because they are dangerous correct.. I know it is.. but you want your car. But you want more laws confining the public. And it will never stop.. its for income and the rich so. Keep doin what your doin. Which is more government passing laws on other people take profits.. all the same.. just growing pains and need to keep people in order.
So Oregon is living under the delusion that speed cameras good, citizens bad automatically! Electronic manipulation of data is unheard of right? Sure people speed, but put the onus on the road design that encourages abuse! Squeezing taxpayers for their last few pennies isn’t education it’s petty tyranny!
Tell me please, just how difficult is it to follow the speed limit?
The purpose of the cameras is strictly for revenue generation! Do not confuse these cameras with safety. Poor road design leads to speeding and pedestrian/cyclist interactions, especially around intersections. No speed camera in the world saves pedestrian/ cyclists from inattentive drivers! If they do then tell my youngest sister and her sister-in-law how a camera would have saved them from being MURDERED, both by an inattentive driver! Explain to me why I’m disabled by a seperate inattentive driver! Neither were speeding, but both wreaked devastation! Stop with your simpleton commentary!
You didn’t answer my question.
I understand that this sole project won’t eliminate traffic violence. I’m pretty sure anyone here also understands that. It is a step though.
I don’t appreciate the simpleton inference and could just as easily say the same about your comment with its presumption that since this will not solve everything, we shouldn’t do anything. If you’ve been around here much, you’ll know there have been MANY commenters showing support for road redesign…I’m one of them. Perhaps you could look at this as a step in that direction. As an added bonus, the fact there might be more speed cameras would probably have drivers paying more attention to the road.
Regarding revenue generation: Maybe some of that revenue will go to MUP’s and more alternative transportation support. Or, hear me out, road redesign.
I don’t believe this for a second, but let’s set that aside. The revenue generated via these cameras is purely voluntary. Think of it as the collections plate at church. If you don’t want to kick in, then slow down to 9 over the speed limit, and you won’t pay a dime.
So you really believe only speeders will receive tickets in the mail? Once you are tagged with this accusation good luck refuting it. If the state goes to the trouble of sending you a picture, of you, behind the wheel with some numbers posted across it then you should just accept your fate… Will you have a defense? Nope!
I don’t know what the rate of false positives is with speed cameras, but I do understand the basic technology used, and I believe it is reliable.
That said, I agree that refutation is essentially impossible. Not that you’d have much better luck with a police officer.
Nothing more disproportionately effects the poor members of our society more than bogus revenue generating tickets under the false guise of saving lives.
The city of Los Angeles got rid of all their red light cameras. The most comprehensive research was by Jay Beeber of Safer Streets LA who conducted extensive research proving the cameras do not make the streets safer for bikes and pedestrians. In California, there were 109 cities with red light cameras in 2010; today, there are only 29. Also, a-lot of the camera companies use revenue sharing agreements that are unfair to cities. They’ve also been known to fund astro-turf lobbying by bicycle groups.
Red light cameras are very different. Speed cameras are effective and more are implemented every year, both in the US and in Europe.