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Speeding Enforcement Cameras Work, and They’re Coming to Chicago

10:57 AM EST on February 8, 2012

Here's what's happening around the Network today:

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Speeding Cameras Coming to Chicago: New legislation has cleared the way for automated speeding enforcement -- speeding cameras -- in Chicago. The cameras will be used only in "safety zones," or areas around schools and parks. Fines will be $50 - $100 depending on the magnitude of the violation.

Steven Vance at Network blog Grid Chicago is dispelling some common misconceptions about speed cameras, pointing out that they will save lives. "Speed correlates with the survival rate of a pedestrian involved in an automobile crash. If a pedestrian is hit by a person driving a car at 30 MPH, there is an 80% survival rate. If a pedestrian is hit by a person driving a car at 40 MPH, there is a 30% survival rate."

Will the cameras be effective? Vance summarizes three studies that looked at the efficacy of speeding cameras in preventing traffic collisions. The studies found that speeding cameras were indeed useful in motivating drivers to reduce their speed, improving safety. "There have been reductions in the number of people speeding, and the number of injuries and fatalities, in locations where speed cameras are installed and operated," Vance writes. "In my assessment of multiple studies, it seems that speed cameras are a main cause of these reductions."

Why Subway Construction Has Gotten to Be So Expensive: Building new subway lines is more expensive than ever -- even when adjusted for inflation. Yesterday Benjamin Kabak at Second Avenue Sagas reviewed a recent Salon article by Will Doig, who identified seven issues that contribute to skyrocketing costs and ballooning construction time tables. Some of the culprits: the slow wheels of bureaucracy, the difficulty of assembling funding for large transit projects in an environment that marginalizes public transportation in favor of auto travel, and NIMBYism. Salon also identifies some progressive reforms, including environmental impact statements, ADA compliance and union rules, as hurdles that aren't impeding China's ability to lay down tracks for metros seemingly overnight.

Kabak looks at the issue through the lens of the Second Avenue subway New York City has been planning for decades. "The MTA issued its notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement for the Second Ave. Subway in March of 2001," he says. "The FEIS saw the light of day 38 months later in May of 2004, and the authority had to further revise its assessment in 2009 to find no material impact when it had to redesign station configurations at 72nd and 86th St."

Red Lights to Be Optional for Paris Cyclists: Systemic Failure points us to a story in the London Times about an experiment in Paris that will allow cyclists in one district to "turn right or to go straight at a T-junction even when the lights are red." The news come after a contentious campaign by cycling advocacy groups which claimed it was "idiotic for them to stop at traffic lights." Proponents of the measure argued it would reduce the risk of traffic collision -- a sharp departure from American sensibility on the topic. It will be interesting to observe the safety outcomes of this one.

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