New Orleans Group Wants to Get Rid of Red Light Cameras

(AP Photo/Mel Evans)

Hey hey, ho ho, New Orleans’ red light traffic cameras have to go — at least according to one very dedicated grassroots organization. NOLA Initiative is attempting to gather hundreds of signatures a week to put the controversial cameras on a 2018 ballot.

“We just don’t like them,” member Mike Bowler recently told Fox-8 News. “When we’re out collecting signatures, people’s ears pop up when they hear we’re asking for signatures to get rid of the cameras. It’s kind of fun, actually.”

According to the initiative’s website, the New Orleans Parish Charter “allows for any charter amendment to appear on the ballot with valid signatures from 10,000 registered voters, or 10 percent, whichever is less. With 257,369 registered voters on June 1, 2017, that is only 3.885 percent that is needed to get this measure on the ballot.” The city, however, told Fox-8 that getting 10,000 signatures wouldn’t automatically get the issue on the ballot — the City Council would need to pass an ordinance.

The city’s Department of Public Works has installed around 40 traffic cameras since last December, according to Curbed. Their purpose, according to a statement from the mayor’s office, is to keep people safe by deterring red light and speeding violations.

As Next City reported in March, red light cameras in Chicago have been shown to decrease injury-producing crashes, particularly angle and turn crashes. The report that made those findings (from Northwestern University Transportation Center), also recommended that the city ease up on enforcement, however, and give drivers a longer grace period before being charged with a $100 red light camera ticket. The cameras have been controversial in Chicago as well as New Orleans. In February, however, the cities of San Jose and San Francisco announced a pilot to test cameras for speed enforcement, as well as red light ticketing.

Rachel Dovey is an award-winning freelance writer and former USC Annenberg fellow living at the northern tip of California’s Bay Area. She writes about infrastructure, water and climate change and has been published by Bust, Wired, Paste, SF Weekly, the East Bay Express and the North Bay Bohemian.

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