Red Light Camera Showdown Looms

New Haven’s pushing again for the state’s OK to mount “red-light cameras.” The idea faces renewed opposition again from civil libertarians and perhaps a Westville state representative.

A Board of Aldermen committee last week unanimously backed a nonbinding resolution calling on the state to pass enabling legislation so New Haven can use the cameras to catch drivers who run red lights. After the cameras snap pictures of cars running a red light, the city would send the cars’ owners $100 tickets.

The city pushed a similar bill at Hartford several times in recent years, only to see the proposal fail. It’s considered a cornerstone of New Haven’s “safe streets” efforts.

Click here to read about New Haveners’ role in killing the bill in 2006. Opponents’ concerns included forcing people to account for their whereabouts when a camera records their car racing through a light, but not necessarily them inside it. They questioned whether the system has produced results elsewhere, and whether it automates police work while taking away the important human-judgment aspect of policing.

New Haven State Rep. Pat Dillon, who has voted against the bill in the past, said following last Thursday night’s vote that she hasn’t decided yet where she’ll stand this session. Unlike in previous years, this year’s version doesn’t include using the cameras to catch speeders.

Dillon said Friday that she hadn’t seen this year’s measure. She said she voted against the bill three years ago in part because it gave too large a share of ticket revenue to the camera supplier. She said she heard no testimony last year on the measure and did not take a position. She said she would not make up her mind this year until she hears testimony about the bill itself.

She said she also is concerned whether the cameras can tell the difference between drivers running a red light and those making a legal right turn on red.

The ACLU said it has not changed its position on the cameras, spokesman Patrick Doyle said. It still violates people’s privacy and due process rights, Doyle argued.

He criticized the impersonal nature of the camera-ticket strategy.

“When you get pulled over [by a police officer], there is interaction with a person,” he said. “The policeman will ask you what’s going on. That’s part of due process.”

The current resolution differs from the 2006 version in that it targets only red-light runners, not speeders.

The camera idea elicited sympathy from people interviewed at various spots around town. (Click on the play arrow at the top of the story to watch.)

Anthony Gamberdella, who has owned Anthony’s Men’s Hair Styling for 36 years, was interviewed in his Fountain Street shop. It’s a couple of doors down from where a cab driver allegedly running a light struck a pedestrian last week.

Gamberdella is all for the cameras. “If somebody goes through a light they could be found out or in an accident, you could find out who caused the accident,” he said.

Miguel, a cabbie for Easy One Taxi, who would only give his first name, said the red light cameras would “not only prevent accidents but help drivers be more cautious.”  Speaking while waiting for a fare at Union Station, Miguel said he also drives trailer-trucks. He said he considers red-light runners one of the more dangerous hazards to big-rig drivers.

Those sentiments were echoed at City Hall when the Board of Aldermen’s City Services and Environmental Policy Committee voted to pass the pro-cameras resolution last Thursday. The resolution now goes to the full board, which is expected to pass it.

After the unanimous vote, Doug Hausladen of the CT Livable Streets Campaign said the city had “taken a step.”

Hausladen said passage by the full board, which aldermanic President Carl Goldfield termed all but assured, would send “a really strong message from the City of New Haven that we want ... the ability to put up safety measures that can actually save lives for our citizens.”

chief.JPGNobody among the dozen or so supporters who attended the meeting spoke against the red-light cameras. One of the supporters, outgoing Police Chief James Lewis, called the cameras “a cost-effective way of changing behavior.” He cautioned the aldermen not to consider them as a revenue-producing scheme because it hasn’t turned out that way in the 400 or so communities that use the system.

“This should have a huge impact,” Lewis said. Police patrols in the crowded streets often are hard-put to enforce the law against running red lights. Even when they are in a position to spot the offense, they have trouble reaching the offenders safely.

Outgoing Fair Haven Alderwoman Erin Sturgis-Pascale, who chairs the committee, said the cameras would not photograph people who are forced to be in the intersection by slow traffic but only those who actually run a red light. She said the cameras would not photograph the occupants of a car.

She said the ticket would be mailed to the car’s owner, but a driver who could prove someone else was driving the car when it was photographed would not be held responsible for the ticket.

robrock.JPGRob Rocke (pictured) said he is tired of seeing “one, two, three cars” blow through an intersection “as if they don’t need to obey the law.” Calling himself “a card-carrying member” of the ACLU, he said he finds “nothing private in choosing to be a motor vehicle owner” or driver.

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posted by: Monk James on December 21, 2009  8:57am

“She said the ticket would be mailed to the car’s owner, but a driver who could prove someone else was driving the car when it was photographed would not be held responsible for the ticket. “

What she fails to include is that it will cost us more than the $100 ticket to take the day off of work to fight it.

They also fail to mention that in other cities that have these, the rate of stolen license plates goes way up.

What New Haven needs is cops that actually patrol and not just sit in their cars or walking down the streets talking on their cell phones.

If the city just wants more revenue from $100 tickets, than just come out and say it. Don’t make it sound like something it is not.

posted by: Wicked Lester on December 21, 2009  9:06am

Running a red light is not a civil liberty.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on December 21, 2009  10:35am

All you have to do is buy this.

posted by: Tom on December 21, 2009  10:45am

It seems like the ACLU is grasping at straws here. As one of the previous commenters pointed out, running a red light is not a civil liberty. When you run a red light, you are breaking the law in a public place in a way that endangers those around you.

By the ACLU’s logic, giving people parking tickets or towing cars illegally parked in handicapped spaces fails to give “due process”, as in both of theses situations there is typically no interaction with a police officer. Should we stop ticketing and towing these folks too?

Those who oppose red light cameras would rather protect reckless drivers than the pedestrians they threaten and injure with their irresponsible and dangerous behavior.

Red light cameras certainly aren’t perfect, but they’re an important part of a larger solution. Those who oppose them should take a step back from the typical knee jerk reactions and seriously think about the costs and benefits of using these devices. Would our city be a better or worse place to live if we used these cameras? Once you get outside the realm of theory and political philosophy books and into the real world, the answer becomes pretty clear.

posted by: City Hall Watch on December 21, 2009  10:59am

New Haven has the largest police force in the state. It’s force is bigger than other cities around the country who have larger populations. If there is a red light running problem, start with targeted enforcement. We have plenty of cops and it would do them good to write a few tickets. I oppose any automated enforcement in the name of “safe streets.” This is an overblown, windy topic generated by a handful of people with either an axe to grind or some special interest like bike riding. While I have seen many unsafe motorists in and around New Haven, I have seen an equal number of unsafe pedestrians and bikers. If all people using the roads would use both common sense and courtesy, it would go a long way to solving whatever problem there is with safe streets. That will take education and time. It seems those pushing for immediate and punitive actions want to do neither. And by the way, the fine is only part of it, most of the time, the collection activity is also outsourced and comes with an additional fee on top of the fine.

posted by: Lisa on December 21, 2009  11:03am

We should support this bill. Anyone driving in New Haven knows that red-light running is rampant here. I have started to not go right away when the light turns green, after almost being blindsided at high speed by a pickup blowing a red light. It was terrifying. I was lucky. The problem here is that lawmakers have given us the chance for too long to follow the law and not speed and to stop at red lights. So many people who live here refuse to abide by these laws, so action must be taken. It’s a shame that good, safe behavior must be legislated and enforced, but that is exactly what the red light runners here have forced active citizens and local lawmakers to do. If one is worried about said privacy and the $100 ticket and missing a day of work to try to get out of it, don’t speed and don’t run red lights anymore. It’s as simple as that. That is the point, actually. The cameras will be a deterrent, which will, in turn, make our streets safer and friendlier in the end. If the city is a friendlier, safer place, we will all do better economically, too. People (i.e., customers) are scared away of our city, and the unsafe drivers are one reason I have heard given.

posted by: Tom on December 21, 2009  11:52am

City Hall Watch,

I would think a fiscally-minded individual such as yourself would be in favor of a common-sense idea like red light cameras. Why spend money having officers write tickets and do paperwork, when we could do it much more efficiently using cameras? The city only gets very small percentage of the money from traffic tickets. The rest goes to the state; such a large share in fact, that by some estimates it actually costs the city money to write tickets.

It seems to me like we should be looking for ways to cut costs, particularly in this economy. I’m not sure why anyone would support the current system of ticketing red light runners, which is not cost-effective and is not yielding the sufficient level of enforcement.

By the way, bicycling is not a special interest, at least not anymore of one than walking or driving.

I agree with you wholeheartedly that many of the problems regarding bad behavior on our roads could be solved by all residents acting courteously and responsibly. Until that day comes though, I won’t hold my breath and I’ll join the large number of people supporting effective solutions like red light cameras.

posted by: yoda on December 21, 2009  12:02pm

Most traffic cams are installed blatantly to generate revenue. Most revenue goes to the private seller/operator of the cameras, not the city, which only gets small portion.

Red light cams at intersections increase the rate of crashes at those intersection as people make sudden braking to stop to avoid the ticket.

In Britain the traffic cams are regularly vandalized by an outraged public which fights back against the cams.

And what about all those false positives, caused by incorrectly reading of the plates, and altered plates? You still have to go to court that day, on someone else’s mistake. The process is far from foolproof.

Why not put human cops on traffic enforcement, like they did in the old days? Are traffic cams just the first step in automated enforcement?
How about radar cams on the highways?

posted by: MOCT on December 21, 2009  12:10pm

My hometown back in Missouri started installing these a couple of years ago.  It was a gradual process, with the first cameras being installed only at the very busiest intersections and only in certain directions.  Still, according to this recent article, crash rates are down all over the city, because people forget where the cameras are.  The installation of red light cameras was not without controversy, and people did balk about their rights, but overall it has been a positive thing. I’m attaching some links to articles that New Haveners might find interesting, including a very recent one.

posted by: yoda on December 21, 2009  12:12pm

According to this Popular Mechanics article:
vendors install the cams in intersections that generate the highest revenue, and then shorten the yellow cycle, which decreases safety and increases the accident rate.

Please do some research before considering red light traffic cams. Look at the experience of other communities.

posted by: Stephen on December 21, 2009  12:18pm

This is not a safety device.  RLC have been demonstrated to cause more wrecks not less.  In fact numerous reports show RLC being more of a problem:

Further the pro camera reports have been found to some case outright contradict one another.  Like the Houston RLC report contradicting the Tx Dot Report:

What you really get with Red Light Cameras is a device that is DEPENDENT UPON VIOLATIONS.  So what happens is the yellow lights start getting shorter to increase violations.  You start seeing people get cited for stopping 1 foot over the stop line or right turn on red.  Heck, you even get the scameras people moving the trigger line a few car lengths past the stop line to increase violations like in Tucson, AZ:

Do youself a favor, ban em.  They clearly are not about stopping the dangerous RLR who is plus 5 into red and has themes that will NOT be resolved.  Do you really believe a RLC is going to stop someone is not paying attention, drunk, or fleeing police?  Get real, it won’t.

It is nothing more than a rigged card game with the motorists the victim of enforement that is more about money!

posted by: ricc on December 21, 2009  12:25pm

Big brother will then start watching our every move once we let camaras in, for you people who say “if you do nothing wrong you don’t have to worry about that”, I say B.S we live in a free society, not a POLICE STATE,YET!!

posted by: Bruce on December 21, 2009  12:42pm

Please support this bill.  New Haven does not have the money or resources to put a policeman at every dangerous intersection—this is simply not realistic.  The only way we can hope to have an impact on this deadly behavior is to use the technology that is available to us.  I am sure we can find an appropriate revenue split.

posted by: streever on December 21, 2009  1:10pm

City Hall Watch/others:

It is very difficult for a police officer to give a ticket to a red light runner: understand what must happen. An officer must, after observing a high speed vehicle run a red light, run the same red light themselves. that’s incredibly dangerous, and why the law is so often not enforced.

rep dillon:
“She said she also is concerned whether the cameras can tell the difference between drivers running a red light and those making a legal right turn on red.”

the system does distinguish this: I have a fact sheet I can send you.

The red light cameras have been shown to decrease serious accidents: a minor increase in fender benders, vs a sharp decrease in deadly accidents, seems acceptable.

posted by: anon on December 21, 2009  1:19pm

Red light violations are almost impossible to enforce in cities like New Haven.  That’s why over 400 cities like New Haven use these cameras, which issue parking tickets to red light runners.

At many locations with cameras, red light violations and fatalities drop by 90% or more.

How many more people have to die before the state allows these to be used here?  Our cities and towns should be able to have that choice.  Connecticut is an anomaly and our lack of action here is costing lives and resources. 

Our delegation should be voted out of office if they don’t pave the way for solutions to red light running, beginning this year.

posted by: juli on December 21, 2009  1:25pm

yoda, steven & others,
included in the bill is language that would prevent the cameras to be installed at intersections based soley on revenue. they would only be installed in the intersections with the highest crash history. as chief lewis said, it is not about revenue. the density of new haven’s intersections makes it incredibly dangerous for police to catch red light runners.

posted by: robn on December 21, 2009  1:50pm

maybe drivers will just start wearing monkey masks.

posted by: robn on December 21, 2009  2:15pm


Obscuring a license plate is a violation of…
CT Gen Statute
Chapter 246
Sec 14-18 Display of number plates and stickers
(a)(2) Each motor vehicle for which two number plates have been issued shall, while in use or operation upon any public highway, display in a conspicuous place at the front and the rear of such vehicle the number plates.
(c) Such number plates when displayed upon motor vehicles shall be entirely unobscured and the numerals and letters thereon shall be plainly legible at all times.

...and I’m pretty sure my gag about the monkey mask would be illegal also if one were to stretch this statute…
Sec. 53-37a. Deprivation of a person’s civil rights by person wearing mask or hood: Class D felony.
Any person who, with the intent to subject, or cause to be subjected, any other person to the deprivation of any rights, privileges or immunities, secured or protected by the Constitution or laws of this state or of the United States, on account of religion, national origin, alienage, color, race, sex, sexual orientation, blindness or physical disability, violates the provisions of section 46a-58 while wearing a mask, hood or other device designed to conceal the identity of such person shall be guilty of a class D felony.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on December 21, 2009  4:48pm


Obscuring a license plate is a violation of…
CT Gen Statute
Chapter 246
Sec 14-18 Display of number plates and stickers
(a)(2) Each motor vehicle for which two number plates have been issued shall, while in use or operation upon any public highway, display in a conspicuous place at the front and the rear of such vehicle the number plates.
(c) Such number plates when displayed upon motor vehicles shall be entirely unobscured and the numerals and letters thereon shall be plainly legible at all times.

Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary copyright © 2009 by Merriam-Webster, incorporated


1. to make dark, dim, or indistinct

2. to conceal or hide by or as if by covering

The Super Protector is your defense against the red light camera and the speed camera. It is a cover for your license plate that makes the numbers on your license plate(s) unreadable by a photo radar or red light camera. When you view the license plate straight on, the numbers are perfectly readable, but from the angle of the speed camera or red light camera, the numbers can not be seen.

The Super Protector is designed to make your license plate numbers invisible at every angle at which a photo radar camera could be positioned. It even protects against overhead and high angle cameras. Its ultra-thin design allows it to fit into any license plate frame.

Notice it says When you view the license plate straight on, the numbers are perfectly readable. So you can read the plate number. All of my cars have this. I have this on all of my cars already.
and I have this.

It works for me. And buy the way I don’t run red lights.

posted by: Mark Oppenheimer on December 21, 2009  4:53pm

Please, let’s all support this bill in Hartford—it would enable us to try. I am tired of seeing the people running red lights, and reading about the occasional but too-frequent deaths. If it turns out to be a civil liberties nightmare, then we can always lobby the city to undo our local legislation. But for us even to try, we need this bill in to pass in Hartford.

posted by: Tim on December 21, 2009  4:58pm

If we’re going to use camera’s instead of cops, lets broaden it to include the j-walkers and cyclists who go through lights.  $100 tickets for all!

posted by: City Hall Watch on December 21, 2009  5:01pm

There are a lot of comments on here alleging various stats in support of the nanny state attacking us again. I for one would like to read the proposed language myself so I can verify first hand what kind of power and safeguards or not, are contained therein. Quite frankly, some of these stats are just not believable or may have been accurate for a particular city, but shouldn’t be applied here.

I am for any effort to encourage and educate all people on legal, good and respectable driving, walking or biking along our streets. I am not in favor of the jackbook mentality that defaults to tickets, fines and fees to induce a change in behavior. Notice I said walking and biking in addition to driving. There are many cases where people walk against the light and right into traffic, or cross the street outside of the crosswalks - will the safe streets crowd advocate a ticket for them as well?

posted by: Ray Willis on December 21, 2009  5:04pm

City Hall Watch, I don’t want to try and sway your belief that the cycling community is conspiring to end your fun times behind the wheel running red lights, but what does this story/issue have to do with cyclists at all? You’re talking about people having an axe to grind, and here you are cry babying about bicycles in a story that has nothing to do with them. Bitter much?

posted by: streever on December 21, 2009  5:12pm


good luck with that: cyclists and pedestrians have no license plates.

posted by: MOCT on December 21, 2009  5:30pm

One of the links I posted previously actually mentions that accidents in my hometown (which is larger than New Haven) have DECREASED as a result of installing red light cameras.  So to Yoda and others who think we should look at the experience of other communities, that’s exactly what you should do—read the article to find out how these have worked in another community.

posted by: robn on December 21, 2009  7:22pm


What part of “entirely unobscured” don’t you understand?

posted by: jade on December 21, 2009  8:44pm

i’m all for it, especially after almost being hit by a SCHOOL BUS that was brazenly speeding through a VERY red light!!!  (wish i wasn’t too shaken up to catch the plate and report it…it was out of sight before i could think to act.)

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on December 21, 2009  10:49pm



What part of “entirely unobscured” don’t you understand?

(c) Such number plates when displayed upon motor vehicles shall be entirely unobscured and the numerals and letters thereon shall be plainly legible at all times.

When you view the license plate straight on, the numbers are perfectly readable.

Read this again again What part don’t you understand. It says When you view the license plate straight on, the numbers are perfectly readable. And also This is legal.


You are right it is about the money.

posted by: John Fitzparick on December 21, 2009  10:55pm

It says in the article the way this will work is that the City will send the owner of the car that runs the red light a $100 ticket, and the City will do this even though there is no evidence that the owner of the car was driving the car. In other words, there is no evidence that the person getting fined is the person who committed the traffic violation. How can something so obviously unjust even be considered? How could a committee of Aldermen unanimously support something like this?

I want the red light running problem to be addressed as much as anybody, but this method, with injustice at its core, is not the way to do it. Better to go the route of traditional enforcement, with officers pulling cars over and issuing tickets to the drivers instead of the cars. I believe this will be sufficient to address the problem if the City makes a concerted, determined effort.

As for the difficulty of ticketing red light runners on New Haven’s congested streets, we heard something similar when we complained about dirt bikes and ATVs riding recklessly through our neighborhoods. We were told that it was too dangerous for the police to chase them and that we had to tolerate them and the lawless environment they created because pursuing them would put too many people at risk. But then this spring the NHPD assembled the Quad Squad who hit the streets in force, made some arrests, got their efforts publicized in the Independent, Register, and Advocate, and solved the problem seemingly overnight. All it took was an intelligent plan and some determination. Can’t they take the same approach to red light running instead of an approach that will punish people who have done nothing wrong?

posted by: robn on December 21, 2009  11:43pm


“Nanny State”? I wish. If it were so, we would have been brought a warm knitted afghan and some tea and cookies by now. Its just a figment of your imagination man.

posted by: Alex on December 22, 2009  4:59am

I’m just jumping in here. But haven’t you seen the major studies that show red light cameras cause more accidents because of people stopping suddenly, worried that they are going to get caught on camera?! Therefore they are not needed!

posted by: William Kurtz on December 22, 2009  9:29am


A lot of us who support the use of red light cameras have seen those studies.  Out of context, “more accidents” is not really a useful measurement.  While some studies do suggest that the cameras are associated with more rear-end collisions, the available evidence also shows that they contribute to a decline in the more serious t-bone crashes which are more likely to kill or cause severe injury.

posted by: William Kurtz on December 22, 2009  9:36am

also . . .

The argument that it’s unfair because the owner and not the driver gets the ticket is a spurious one; when you own a car and lend it out, you assume a certain amount of responsibility for the way in which it’s used.  For example, if the driver causes an accident, you and your insurance are at risk of footing the bill.  If the driver parks illegally and doesn’t pay the ticket, you will get that bill, too.  If the car is used in a crime, the police will likely come knocking on your door looking for you.  In all of these instances, you are perfectly free to pass the responsibility on to the proper party, but should he or she choose not to accept it willingly, you will not be able to say, “well, hey; I wasn’t driving the car.”

posted by: juli on December 22, 2009  9:47am

john fitzpatrick,

i am really surprised at how the ticket going to the owner of the car is “injustice at it’s core”.

how often do people really lend their cars to others? would it be a huge hassle to mention to the driver you are lending your very expensive two tons of metal to that you expect them to drive carefully and not to run red lights?

posted by: Bruce on December 22, 2009  9:50am

John F.  Have you ever gotten a parking ticket?  You don’t have to prove you parked the car to get the ticket.  Also, I believe they catch people running through the EZPass this same way.  Your car, your responsibility.

Alex, You probably could have said the same for stop signs and traffic lights when they were first installed.  Please post these studies you’ve read. If this is really true (questionable, IMHO), then the effect should wear off as people get used to the cameras.  Just as they got used to every other traffic enforcement device.

posted by: concerned citizen on December 22, 2009  11:42am

Like most ideas on here that are advocated by Elm City Cycling members i.e. Streever, Kurtz, and in the story Mr. Rocke this is a bad idea.  What is this 1984???  There is a definite double standard in that I see just as many if not more cyclists running red lights than cars.  Why punish car owners in a way that makes cyclists who engage in the same illegal activity completely immune to ticketing. Why should we condone cyclists who run red lights at the same time that we subject car owners to 1984 levels of surveillance??

posted by: Van Halen Rocks!! on December 22, 2009  12:22pm

Concerned Citizen,

You rock dude! You’re so right. It’s just like 1984, with the little angel baby on the cover smoking a cigarette. That was a great album. I mean “Jump”, “Panama”, and “Hot for Teacher” are like three of Van Halen’s best songs ever! Eddie was at the height of his songwriting and David Lee Roth could do no wrong with his voice. Wow! I can’t believe I forgot about this one. Thanks for the memories. Rock on!

posted by: robn on December 22, 2009  12:35pm


If you put a device over your license plate or do anything else to your license plate that obscures it from view (it doesn’t matter if the viewer is looking straight at it or looking at it from an angle), you’re breaking the law.

Just why do you have this anyway? Planning on doing something (else) illegal and making a getaway?

posted by: anon on December 22, 2009  12:45pm

John, if you leave a grenade your front porch and a kid comes up and pulls the pin, should you not be held responsible? 

If you have a car, be responsible about who you lend it out to.  Don’t lend it out to someone who is likely to run red lights and kill people.  It is a social obligation and yes you should be held partly responsible if that person runs a stop sign and kills 5 babies.  Do you think a $100 fine for someone killing 5 babies is too much?

Hundreds of other cities and towns in the US use these ticketing mechanisms as a traffic enforcement tool.  Why does New Haven need to be the exception?  It is very difficult for po-po to pull over drivers who run reds. I fully agree with you they can (and should) be doing it MUCH more often, but even if you had 10% of our police officers just doing red light enforcement, it would have a minimal impact because of the difficultly of doing this, especially at night on busy streets (officers wear black - do you want to be the one out there on Route 34 at 11PM making a stop?).

This activity needs to stop - preventable traffic crashes cost us hundreds of billions of dollars in long-term medical bills, responder costs, property damage and other social costs.

Personally, I think a $100 parking ticket for running a red is far too little.  The penalty should be a $2000 traffic violation with points on your license.

We have already have cameras to monitor traffic all over New Haven (visit the transportation department and you might see yourself on one!), we have cameras at airports to monitor private pilots taking off and landing, why can’t we have cameras to give traffic tickets to those whose illegal behavior produces many orders of magnitude more death and destruction each year?

posted by: ali on December 22, 2009  1:13pm

There seems to be an unnatural level of concern about mysterious bad drivers running lights in other people’s cars.  Unless you belong to some kind of car collective, chances are it is either you or a family member driving your car.  If you are that worried about someone else being caught on camera breaking the law, don’t lend it out to any idiots, even if they are family.  If they do get caught, hold them accountable.

and to concerned citizen
“I see just as many if not more cyclists running red lights than cars”...really?  I’d love to see a traffic count on that.  I think for starters there would have to be an equal proportion of cars and bikes on the road.  I won’t even start on the argument of which violation is more lethal..

threefifths….if you are law abiding as you claim (except for obscuring your plates) why do you need all the “protection”?

posted by: Bruce on December 22, 2009  1:21pm

Concerned Citizen,  I think that cyclists should also be ticketed for running red lights.  They are welcome to dismount and use the cross-walk. However,  there is a distinction to be made here.  If a cyclist does run a red light (which they shouldn’t) they are not risking anyone’s life but their own. Enforcing motor vehicle compliance is more important because they are much more likely to kill people.  The goal is to save lives, why is that such a “bad idea”?

posted by: RAY WILLIS on December 22, 2009  1:22pm

Concerned Citizen, I feel bad about my previous comment. Clearly your parents or children or loved ones lives were taken from you when a bicycle recklessly crossed an intersection while it had a red light, probably crashing its 30 lbs of bike and 160 lbs of human into the ton of metal your loved ones were driving in, crunching them to a bloody, unrecognizable pulp. And that type of death-by-bicycle scenario is a common problem in many major cities around the world. I change my stance; we must stop bicycles from taking any more drivers lives.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on December 22, 2009  1:35pm



If you put a device over your license plate or do anything else to your license plate that obscures it from view (it doesn’t matter if the viewer is looking straight at it or looking at it from an angle), you’re breaking the law.

Just why do you have this anyway? Planning on doing something (else) illegal and making a getaway?

I have had this on all of my cars for years. Again
read the law. (c) Such number plates when displayed upon motor vehicles shall be entirely unobscured and the numerals and letters thereon shall be plainly legible at all times. there is noting obscured on my plate and the Radar Detector is legal in this state. I have had police pull me over and they said noting about it. In fact the reason the officer pulled me over
was he said I had A air fresher hanging from my mirror and all he did was tell me to take it down.
Again read the law as long as they can see the plate it is legal and it works.

P.S. I may get one of these, show me in the law that you read if this is illegal. you can still see the plate

posted by: Steve on December 22, 2009  2:17pm

If the Cops can’t enforce the law universally, perhaps they could at least enforce it for CT Transit and First Transit, among the worst offenders in my experience.

posted by: nfjanette on December 22, 2009  2:28pm

i am really surprised at how the ticket going to the owner of the car is “injustice at it’s core”.

Really?  Won’t Hertz, Avis, Enterprise Rental, etc. be in for a surprise when they start getting all those moving violations sent to them!

posted by: nfjanette on December 22, 2009  2:35pm

“I see just as many if not more cyclists running red lights than cars”...really? I’d love to see a traffic count on that. I think for starters there would have to be an equal proportion of cars and bikes on the road. I won’t even start on the argument of which violation is more lethal..

I will - the answer is: they both have that potential.  As I have pointed out numerous times in this running debate, any object in the road has the potential to cause an avoidance manuever that can result in a moving vehicle losing control and potentially crashing. There can be chains of such events, for example: cyclist in one lane swerves to avoid pothole, opening vehicle door, or pedestrian illegally walking into the lane; motorist swerves to avoid cyclist, etc, etc.  The mixed use of the roads, be definition, implies a dynamic of interaction between all the participants in the system.

posted by: Ned on December 22, 2009  3:00pm

This is the kind of traffic control device I would like to see installed at some New Haven intersections.Designing roads to reduce speeds and improving pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure will lessen the frequency and severity of the car crashes which will inevitably occur.As far as the “big brother” aspect: the government already monitors your phone/internet usage, knows how much money you make, where you work and for whom, where you were born, what drugs you can take, where you travel (by plane), and they used to take your sons and send them off to kill and be killed (the draft), but you’re concerned about red light cameras???  Gee, what an outrage…

posted by: ali on December 22, 2009  3:04pm

NFJanette - I think the scenarios you mention…swerving cars/bikes are more relevant to moving traffic and present a good argument for enforcing the speed limits. A car starting from a complete stop to go through a light while a bike blows through it probably won’t have quite the same potential end result, at least not for the car. 

In any case, I agree that all should drive/walk/bike responsibly, even though I feel like a fool standing there on the empty street waiting for the crosswalk light to change.  Maybe I can get something that can obscure my whole body so I can jaywalk.  Threefifths…can you hook me up?

posted by: RAY WILLIS on December 22, 2009  3:37pm

NFJANETTE, maybe you can shed light on how the behavior of cyclists has anything to do with or possibly justifies automobiles running red lights or how cameras to stop automobiles from doing so is a bad thing because of cyclists?

posted by: Old Punk on December 22, 2009  5:18pm

My issue is that there is already technology to defeat the cameras. There are apps for GPS devices and radar detectors to alert you to corners with cameras. Right now, custom apps for GPS devices aren’t all that prevalent, but in one or two years, they will be. Then this becomes a poor man’s tax. Do the cameras slow everyone down at a particular intersection? Sure. But who will be getting the most tickets? The people with old cars and the ones who can’t afford the latest technology.

posted by: an on December 22, 2009  5:37pm

I have to say, I did not know this was a cornerstone of the safe streets initiative and learning that, if safe streets doesn’t change its position, I am withdrawing what has been staunch support of the intiative up to now.

These camera - ticketing schemes are a nightmare, an unmitigated nightmare.

First of all, the Fountain Street pedestrian episode. Let’s look at that. The crosswalks in Westville, where this one is, are screaming out for OTHER safety measures. More alerting paint, the plastic pedestrian crossing thing that sits in the middle of crosswalks, more frequent walk signals.

Westville has a very specific problem: through drivers on Fountain and especially Whalley, which both run through Westville are often on their way somewhere else and both streets, especially Whalley, bottleneck as they come into Westville Village where Whalley narrows down considerably.

Drivers need more to wake them up when they hit the village that hey, you can’t get through the village at the speed and with the ease and with the lower-level attentiveness with which you just drove the rest of Fountain or upper Whalley.

We need the full pedestrian paint job and the plastic pedestrian zone signs that sit in the middle of the crosswalks in Westville. They are EXTREMELY effective.

Have you ever taken Route 1 through Fairfield County? You might speed up between towns but when you see those pedestrian signs in the middle of the road as you come into the towns along Rte 1, like Westport or Darien, they really make you cool it as they indicate immediately the sense of a congested village area. Why isn’t safe streets pulling for that kind of crosswalk treatment for Westville?

Secondly, do not think it will be easy “proving” you were innocent. Give me a break. Proving your innocence is not easy, not easy at all and all the momentum of the court will be in the direction of guilt, and that momentum is Heavy and Strong and incredibly cynical. I tell you, it will cost you far more than $100 to fight a ticket when you were not the driver unless you bring in a signed confession by the actual driver. It will be a nightmare. Those ignorant of the court system have absolutely no idea how bad a nightmare it will be.

In the case of a malfunctioning camera, good luck proving that without expert testimony and fighting the city tooth and nail to get access to the camera. On top of just bureacracy, they will consider it a risk if anyone establishes a bad cam and will fight your request in court. Then they will lie about it, as the New Haven and its bottom feeding legal practitioners, inhouse or contract, tend to fight dirty in court. If there was a repair order, they will never produce it in court, they will hide it. Think thousands of dollars at this point and several headaches, humiliation by prosecutors who will claim you are a liar in open court. My god the list goes on. Don’t be ignorant, foolish and naive about how hard it can be to fight something like this.

This brings us to how damned unconsitutional these camera-ticketing schemes are, how unAmerican they are, how much they add to the background levels of stress that are already in the overdose range for overregulated average Americans. It is ridiculous.

They are calling this an efficient way to increase safety? One that we should all be happy to burden ourselves with? Really? Do you think you will face a greater or lesser risk of winding up fighting in court over a bogus ticket if they try plastic island pedestrian alerters instead? Something that can increase safety with less risk to innocent drivers? Those advocating for this are zealots and it is grating.

There is too much risk in this scheme to burden people who have done nothing when alternatives exist that aren’t even being tried that are cheaper, don’t burden us with the possibility of false accusations of red-light running, burden us with possible false convictions that mess up our driving records and increase our insurance premiums. They could even cause job loss or lost job opportunities when a job calls for driving a company car transporting someone and your driving records comes up with a mark on it after you lost in court even though you were innocent because you couldn’t afford to fight it or they otherwise rammed you through the system, and I promise you, they will ram. 

Safe Streets can forget my support if they keep pushing this thing and I urge everyone to take the same stand.

posted by: an on December 22, 2009  6:08pm

PS. I am with the comment posted by John on this.

Those advocating this are entirely naive about the legal process and how truly difficult, mean, cynical and expensive it could be.

I am concerned at how easily we balance the benefits and risks and conclude that a few people adversely and unjustly affected is worth it.

Mark Oppenheimer, the violations of rights is a fait accompli, if you knew the system for challenging a false ticket, you would understand that why a little skirting of due process is not minor or nothing. The notion that some study can be done later to determine if civil rights are being violated is tremendously naive. Also, the answer is yes—it is part of the very proposal for cameras.

I am a bicyclist, a pedestrian and sometimes a driver. I see red-light running a lot here too and it really bothers me. I want more attention at intersections on crosswalks and I know it helps. I too when driving wait at the green light just like the other commenter said precisely because of the stragglers who run the lights. As a pedestrian I don’t cross when the walk signal comes on without looking at every single car in each direction to make sure they are slowing or stopped. I learned the hard way.

I also am the victim of a pedestrian-car accident in which a man ran a red light and struck me and a friend in a pedestrian cross walk. I was lucky to live through it as it was head on. I flew over the car. I will spare you the rest of how I was bounced around like a rag doll and was absolutely sure I was about to die before I wound up miraculously in a gutter.

I could not be more deadset against this camera scheme because I know people will pay too much for camera mistakes. It isn’t right when alternatives are available that are even cheaper to boot. Blase references to studies, revisiting, that it is common sense without examining the reality is just not fair or good. This isn’t abstraction—this is reality. You don’t need a study to determine how it will play out for people who need to challenge a mistaken ticket, the way the process works is extremely well known already. Ask those who know.

It is alienating me from initiatives that otherwise I support whole-heartedly that are being put forth by bike groups, safe street group, all the groups advocating for safer streets in New Haven.

posted by: anon on December 22, 2009  7:18pm

AN, it seems that Elm City Cycling and CT Livable Streets have supported red light cameras in the past. You are free to support or not support those groups with your time and money.  It is worth pointing out that since 2001, Elm City Cycling has operated an unmoderated email list where these issues have be discussed and all points of view are respected.  You are welcome to join the Elm City Cycling email list and join the debate.

“New Haven Safe Streets” is an informal group of persons, nonprofits, churches, organized groups and businesses who advocate for items listed in a petition.  That petition does not include red light cameras.  The petition says that members advocate however they feel best—so it’s only natural that many of the individual signers would also support the efforts of groups like Elm City Cycling and CT Livable Streets, at an individual level. 

Anyhow, I hope you will continue to advocate for a safer and more economically vibrant city… whether or not you agree with the idea of parking tickets for red light runners.

posted by: Norton Street on December 22, 2009  10:08pm

The vast majority of New Haven’s streets were not laid out to serve massive amounts of single occupancy private automobiles. We have tried to retrofit our old roads with signage, lights, paint, arrows, asphalt and many other things, but still there are huge problems. The problems stem from our fundamental misuse of the streets-New Haven’s streets were not meant to be used in the way we currently use them.
The idea that our streets are there to serve as merely a circulation system is one of the biggest misconceptions of all time. The more we try to control how the streets are used, the further we stray from the ultimate goal of safe, efficient, pleasant and constantly moving streets. Streets can carry an enormous amount of pedestrians, they can also carry a fairly large number of cyclists, what they cannot carry a lot of without problems is cars, which is precisely what we try to do-jam as many cars as we can manufacture and sell onto streets that can’t hold them without greatly sacrificing safety, efficiency, pleasantness, and movement for all users.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on December 23, 2009  9:42am



good luck with that: cyclists and pedestrians have no license plates.

Not yet but in these two states they are working on make cyclists have license plates. We need to do this here. Any one that use the road should
have license plates.

posted by: anon on December 23, 2009  2:08pm

RLC myths and facts, and legal analysis.

posted by: An on December 23, 2009  7:40pm

Anon -

I think I signed that petition and now I am concerned that even if the camera-ticket initiative was not named on that petition, my signature will be somehow co-opted as support for it. You know, I can hear the rhetoric now—‘We have X number of signatures of people who want ‘safer streets,’ therefore, give us ‘cameras’

I did not sign on for fanaticism, especially not fanaticism that includes such a blithe dismissal of real civil rights headaches (not theoretical) by people ignorant of the reality of what havoc those bring on people and how the process really works.

I am very angry that safe streets is pulling hard for this, to the point where it is before the aldermen, before it can get a single cross-walk island alerter placed in this city. It’s obviously the very TOP of the agenda and if so, it should have been on any petition. The Top priority? That is deceptive and you lost my support.

I am free to support or not, that goes without saying and it is a bit political and patronizing to patly remind me of it. Let’s face it, not everyone agrees with this who otherwise agrees with safer street initiatives and I say pull back on your platform to a more reasonable position. Don’t expect that your supporters are going to treat the ACLU’s position like the lunatic fringe when it isn’t.

I urge everyone to think harder about this. This is not some joke.

I can promise you if you keep pushing for this, next time you make the rounds of the community groups, and come to mine like you have in the past, I will raise this issue every single time. I will raise the issue of how my signature ultimately was used in addition to my position on the priorities that have been settled on and everything else.

You’ve had it easy with community groups, you’ve done a good job lobbying almost universal support. That is going to end.

posted by: Ura on December 24, 2009  1:20am

No… I have not seen those studies and I seriously question that any legitimate study indicating that your claims are accurate. If so, please share some links.

I travel to the UK several times a year, have been doing so for well over a decade, and have driven all over the UK. I have never seen a police officer on traffic enforcement duty. For the most part people obey traffic laws there. Speeding cams and red light cams seem to be all that is needed. Though I have not read any studies on the number of wrecks caused by red light cams, I can say that I have never once seen a wreck (or a near wreck) at a red light in the circumstances you describe in your post.

posted by: Bruce on December 24, 2009  8:18am

AN: Many of these arguments come up each time new technology is introduced—radar guns, breath-alizers, metal detectors, dashboard cameras, etc.  The fact is that none of these are completely foolproof, but then again neither is a human officer.  If you don’t believe a device is functioning properly, you can ask for calibration test results or maintenance records. This practice is well established.  If you would like to argue against all these other technologies also, well good luck, but at least you would be consistent.

Would you apply your legal arguments to parking tickets and also fight to stop this practice?  The vast majority of parking tickets are issued without any proof as to who was driving the vehicle.  However, it is fair that the owner of the vehicle assumes responsibility for its use.

posted by: RAY WILLIS on December 24, 2009  12:17pm

I’d like to tell everyone complaining about an Orwellian theft of freedom inherent in these cameras about this really cool thing on the internet called Google Earth.

posted by: An on December 26, 2009  9:49pm

Oh, and tell me how you’d feel about Google Earth if you had to hire a lawyer,sue and subpoena Google to get access to its images instead of just jumping online in your jammies and browsing it while procrastinating from your civics homework.

posted by: An on December 27, 2009  9:31pm

Bass, did you even look up Luddite before killing that post?

C’mon, get a sense of humor. You’re really going overboard. Don’t edit posts on more than one cup of coffee.

The ‘jammie’ post was no more sarcastic and considerably less clever! You have dumbed me down.