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Residents voice concerns over red-light cameras
Pickerington City Council have moved one step closer to installing red-light traffic cameras in the city.
Council members voted 5-2 in first reading Jan. 20 to accept a plan to install red-light traffic cameras in the city. The ordinance required three readings.
A public hearing was held before the regular council meeting to hear a presentation by Red Flex Traffic Systems - proposed supplier of cameras and services - as well as W.E. Stilson Consulting Group and the opinions of residents.
The W. E. Stilson Consulting Group presented a report about the anticipated affect of red-light traffic cameras at selected intersections along S.R. 256. The report determined there will be an overall increase in delays among other impacts.
Two Pickerington residents stood up to voice their displeasure with council plans, suggesting that installation of traffic cameras has less to do with safety concerns and more about raising money.
Mark Lecuru pointed out that a number of newspaper stories from around the country have shown how similar camera programs have created many problems but also infused local coffers with much needed money. He said it is his belief that council is not so concerned with safety and "all this is is a revenue grab."
Resident Carol Carter laughed at the idea that the cameras are not intended to raise money, noting that "it is not possible to speed during rush hour" and the "real problems with red-light runners isn't along S.R. 256."
Council person Jeff Fix voted in favor of the cameras for safety reasons, but also admitted that while revenue will be generated, by his calculations, the money will come mostly from people who live outside the city.
Council person Brian Sauer supports installation of cameras, citing safety as the primary reason. He also said because money comes from people ticketed for breaking the law by running a red light, he asked, "What's wrong with that?"
A common complaint and concern for residents about red-light cameras is the high number of tickets issued for legal right-turn-on-red incidents captured by the cameras. Those people did not break the law, but were ticketed anyway.
Council person Brian Wisniewski voiced many points of opposition, and questioned what exactly is was that the city is agreeing to accept from Red Flex.
Wisniewski said if the driving concern of council is for safety, then there are other options that need to be considered.
Citing studies not performed by a red-light traffic camera company, Wisniewski said in cities that already have camera systems, there were dangerous increases in accidents and other negative results from the use the cameras.
"Relying only on studies about safety performed by red-light camera companies is like relying on tobacco companies for studies on the safety of cigarettes," he said. "It doesn't make sense."
Council person Christie Hammond also voted against the issue in its first reading.
"While there are people who run red lights, I believe there are other options like education, and am not ready to jump on the red-light camera band wagon," she said.
Mayor Mitch O'Brien declined to take sides, but he did support the idea to move the process forward, making certain that remaining questions related to negotiated details with Red Flex be answered before the last reading of the ordinance.
In other business, council did not make an anticipated move on the question of utilizing the Regional Income Tax Agency (RITA), instead, choosing to continue the issue until a later date.
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