By on November 6, 2008

On Tuesday, voters in Cincinnati, Ohio made it clear that photo enforcement is not welcome in the city. A majority of voters approved an amendment to the city charter prohibiting local officials from ever installing either red light cameras or speed cameras. Referendum co-sponsor Josh Weitzman hopes his coalition’s victory inspires other cities “This election is further proof that people do not want to have traffic cameras,” Weitzman told TheNewspaper. “Politicians in cities across the country need to take note of this if they plan on getting re-elected.” Cincinnati city council members had been trying for the past four years to install the devices that promised to generate between $2m and $12m in annual revenue. Advocates were stopped in 2005 when former Mayor Charlie Luken vetoed a camera ordinance saying, “Let’s be honest with the public– we didn’t think about this until we came up with a budget problem.”

The push for red light cameras resumed at the end of that year when Mayor Mark Mallory was sworn in. A diverse group of political activists from all ends of the political spectrum banded together to form the “We Demand a Vote” coalition to stop the idea. Members include regional chapters of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Republican Party, the Green Party, the Libertarian Party and others. The group received more than 10k signatures on a petition to put the subject of cameras on the ballot before the devices even had a chance to issue a single ticket. Political leaders quickly backed-off their support of cameras after seeing public opinion on the matter.

In 2006, three out of every four voters in Steubenville chose to kick out speed cameras after the devices had issued $600,000 in citations. Over the past twelve years, voters in Anchorage, Alaska; Peoria, Arizona and Batavia, Illinois have also banned cameras.

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22 Comments on “Cincinnati Voters Ban Red Light Cameras...”


  • avatar

    I’m shocked they got to vote on it – here we just get them shoved down our throat.

  • avatar
    Redbarchetta

    This is awesome. When I have to move back up there to Kentucky and travel through Cincy almost daily I wont have to worry about these stupid cameras. Every once in a while the Queeen City does something impressive.

  • avatar
    theflyersfan

    I live in Cincinnati (and the “flyers” part isn’t University of Dayton – it’s for Philadelphia) and voted “Yes” for the cameras. I live downtown and have many clients downtown and at least once a day, either my body or my car almost gets hit by a car running a red. Once when a car did run a red and almost hit me, I ended up doing some damage to my arm and shoulder when I landed on ice.
    I wish they would have passed – this area has no concept of red lights…and welcome back Redbarchetta. Avoid 275 by Coney Island/Riverbend and bring a shovel to help with the Banks project. Two shovel loads of dirt will be double the work done so far.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    Now all they have to is get rid of the cops on the I-71 hill downside toward the riverfront.

  • avatar
    Wolven

    This ban needs to be enacted nation wide. We should take it one step further and ban all radars as well. A cop with a radar is nothing more than a manually operated speeding camera.

    We (the people) want police to PROTECT us from the bad guys. NOT act as bushwhacking, pick pocketing, revenue generatoring THIEVES for the citycountystate.

  • avatar
    Airhen

    Wolven :
    November 6th, 2008 at 12:54 pm

    This ban needs to be enacted nation wide. We should take it one step further and ban all radars as well. A cop with a radar is nothing more than a manually operated speeding camera.

    I’ll add that they also backup traffic on highways. Just this morning… no cops in the usual areas they like to hide, and traffic was flowing just fine up to 70 mph. When they have their speed traps and pull people over, it creates grid-lock as people slow down in areas to 55 mph or slower. They just set these speed traps for revenue.

  • avatar
    pariah

    Mayor Charlie Luken vetoed a camera ordinance saying, “Let’s be honest with the public– we didn’t think about this until we came up with a budget problem.”

    That guy should be the President.

  • avatar
    mikeolan

    Cincinnati got it right- they turned down a crappy casino proposition, reinstated usury laws (thanks Jimmy Carter), and stuck up for smaller government. I’m especially impressed they made this a voter issue.

    Things like this need to be put directly into the voter’s hands, and it was.

  • avatar
    cityfan

    I live in Cincy and voted against it. I’m not opposed to the cameras in principle (no big brother issues). Like Lukens, I think such “enforcement measures” should only be enacted to address a documented public safety concern – not to compensate for budget shortfalls…

    As for Wolven and Airhen’s opposition to all traffic enforcement – I have to disagree. Sometimes the “bad guys” that we need protection from come in the form of a vehicle going 80 mph in a 55 zone…

  • avatar
    mikeolan

    @Cityfan: only going 80 in a 55 isn’t necessarily more dangerous than inattentive driving, texting while driving, on the phone while driving, or any other number of activities that are perfectly illegal. And given a lot of roads in Cincinnati, 55 is usually just a nominal speed of a road that can be safely traveled significantly faster.

  • avatar
    ctoan

    There’s a huge difference between speeding cameras and red light cameras. Speeding cameras are an efficient way to enforce laws that protect no one. Speeding, when done within the ability of your car to stay on the road and in the lane, and within your ability to respond to dangerous situations, is not a factor in accidents. The law, however, will not distinguish between situations, and someone who drives unsafely at 80 will probably drive unsafely at 55.

    Red light cameras, on the other hand, are a way of enforcing laws that do protect people, and are practically unenforceable otherwise. While surely some cities and municipalities use them for revenue, it’s hard to deny that city driving would be safer if fewer people ran red lights.

  • avatar
    Redbarchetta

    Cityfan It really depends on where and the traffic conditions if doing 80 in a 55 is dangerous or not. A lot of I-71 has all the traffic flowing at 80mph while the posted limit is 55. I commuted from Florence to Blue Ash for 18 months and traffic flowed safely at 75-80 the entire way except for the cut in the hill, the bridge and through downtown where the speed dropped to 45. If you did 55 throughout that commute you would be the dangerous driver. The insane truck drivers are the problem in the city not speeders.

    People do run a lot of red lights in the city and I tried to avoid the area as much as possible. But why not try to actually improve the flow of traffic by timing the lights properly instead of installing a cash machine at each light.

  • avatar

    NJ also banned photo scameras, but at the legislative level.

    This technology will never be approved where the voter still has sway.

    Sorry, British Empire.

  • avatar
    brush

    That’s why in Australia they are tagged as $afety Camera’s. If you don’t want them, you must be a dangerous driver who flouts the laws and kills innocent people. Or so the thought/safety/Nanny police tell you.

  • avatar
    Stephan Wilkinson

    Out here in semi-rural America (Upstate New York), people don’t run red lights. Never. They maybe duck through the yellow rather than braking hard and risking a rear-end, but nobody goes through a red light. (Unless they’re on a cellphone, but that’s another, and a universal, matter).

    On the occasional times when I drive into New York city, my courtly driving manner–slowing for the yellow, braking to a stop before the red shines–gets me literally passed by angry drivers behind me who can’t believe I’m being such a wuss, and who flash me a meaty digit to ensure that I get the point.

    So frankly, I’m totally in favor of red-light cameras where there’s a problem. Yeah, I know, Pat Bedard says the camera operators reduce the yellow-light interval from 20 seconds to five, but ultimately, we brought it on ourselves. Deal.

  • avatar
    mikeolan

    @The supporters of red light cameras:

    Except there’s usually a 1-2 second safety period. The people who cause accidents and go past those are people who would go through regardless of a camera or not, (on their cell phone, not paying attention.) .

    I’ve technically ‘run’ red lights timing them at 5 seconds (given the speed limit) when they were 3. In heavy traffic I’ll admit to ‘following through’ on the safety to reduce congestion at a poorly timed intersection where I’ve sat through two full rounds of signal changes. At no time did I put another driver at risk.

    Nothing ticks me off more than somebody who prematurely stops for a red light they could have legally made safely. Red light cameras encourage that kind of behavior and it wastes far more gas than you’d think.

    Then there’s the fact that red light cameras don’t lower accidents. I’m far more in favor of sucking revenue from dangerous drivers, not smart ones. Red light cameras protect noone. Period.

  • avatar
    BMW325I

    It would be funny if Alabama received speeding cameras.

  • avatar
    Stephan Wilkinson

    Yes, of course! I’d forgotten that we’re all such genius drivers–perhaps it’s the endless repetition of “The Best and the Brightest” (which none of us actually are…)–that I didn’t realize we who read and contribute to this website are the smarties who time lights to the last millisecond and get annoyed by people like me who actually stop for the red.

    It’s probably because their lives are so much more important than mine, and they need to keep on keepin’ on, while the rest of us morons stop and wait 30 seconds.

    Chill. You might enjoy it.

  • avatar
    Acd

    Let the record show that at least some people in the State of Ohio made a good decision when they voted.

  • avatar
    mikeolan

    @Stephan Wilkinson: If you feel like paying for the extra gallon of gas I buy each week spent idling at lights and losing forward momentum due to inattentive drivers who slam on their brakes 1 second into a yellow or coast below the speed limit approaching an intersection and cause drivers behind them to miss the light, I’ll happily ‘chill.’

    In the mean time, it is a completely unnecessary waste of time and energy to drivers who were actually paying attention, which, sadly, is the minority now.

  • avatar
    ctoan

    @mikeolan:
    If you actually waste a gallon of gas each week due to this phenomenon, and I can’t imagine any way you’d actually be able to determine this, then you should consider either driving less aggressively, or not driving at all. There’s a reason highways were invented: city driving sucks.

  • avatar
    Stephan Wilkinson

    ctoan said what I was about to.

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