Politics A Good Point
posted by October 27 at 13:08 PMon
Joel Connelly takes on one of the lesser-known evils of Tim Eyman’s I-985:
Vote in favor of the initiative and your kid may get smashed in the legs by fenders of a car running a red light, or your grandmother killed as she uses a crosswalk after getting off a bus.
Why? Initiative 985 erects a financial barrier that will prevent cities from installing or maintaining cameras at busy and dangerous intersections.
“Traffic cameras are an attempt to begin to level the playing field between powerful cars and human bodies out there. Eyman could give a rat’s rear about that,” said Andrea Okomski, whose son, Joe, suffered permanent injuries when hit by a car on North 85th Street. […]
Drivers running red lights cause more than 100,000 crashes a year, killing nearly 1,000 people and injuring 90,000 others. According to the Federal Highway Administration, this has become a leading cause of fatal collisions in metropolitan areas.
“This should be viewed as an outrageous epidemic,” Richard Retting, chief traffic engineer with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, told the Ladies Home Journal.
(Side note: Did Andrea really say “rat’s rear”? And why was Connelly reading the Ladies Home Journal?)
I-985 would take all the revenue from tickets and penalties raised by red-light cameras and put it into a road-building and traffic-light-synchronization fund. Currently, those revenues pay for installing and maintaining red-light cameras. Forced to pay for cameras out of their general funds, cash-strapped cities like Seattle will almost certainly take the cameras down.
Connelly’s right that I-985 will result in more pedestrian accidents—not just because it will eliminate red-light cameras, but because it mandates that cities synchronize all traffic lights on “heavily-traveled arterials.”
Traffic light synchronization seems like a good idea, and in many cases, it is—for example, on busy, congested downtown streets in big cities like Seattle. But in other cases, it makes no sense whatsoever. Many small towns, for example, deliberately de-synchronize their lights (a strategy also known as “traffic calming”) to discourage drivers from using their main drag as a highway. Synchronizing lights ensures that traffic moves as quickly as possible—no matter what the impact is on pedestrians, cyclists, or anyone else who doesn’t happen to be in a car. It’s a typical Eyman one-size-fits-all “solution” that will make things easier for speeding drivers, at the expense of the rest of us.