Thursday, April 06, 2017

Any excuse to collect more money from poor people

The pretext here is bicycle safety. The inevitable result, though,  is more revenue-driven harassment of bicyclists and pedestrians to match that which motorists already endure. 
The City Council is expected to take steps Thursday (April 6) to rectify that by considering a raft of laws meant to better outline the relationship between bikes and motorized vehicles sharing the road. The actions would bring city code closer to what is already on the state's law books.

A big contributor to the convenience of biking around town is the assurance that the cops probably won't bother you (heh.. yes, I know..  if you're white, anyway.)  And that you won't be ticketed by a meter maid or some camera somewhere. It's getting to where we're just taxing you for being outside.

Not that this matters to your councilpersons so long as there's money to squeeze out of poor people. And it's hard to think of a package of traffic fines imposed on people who rely on bikes for transportation as anything other than that.

Meanwhile, in a somewhat related matter, take a look at this Lens report on the efficacy of traffic cameras.  Basically, there is zero evidence they do anything at all to improve safety.
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu says safety, not money, is behind a major expansion of traffic enforcement cameras in the city.

But his administration has produced no evidence the cameras reduce wrecks, injuries or deaths on New Orleans streets.

It does have data on how many tickets have been issued and how much money they brought in.

The city is adding 45 stationary cameras and 10 mobile ones to catch drivers speeding or driving dangerously in school zones. The new cameras are expected to bring in about $5 million a year after the vendor takes a $3 million cut.
So we already know that revenue supersedes safety when it comes to traffic regulation. It's actually worse than officials simply not being able to justify their own rhetoric with data. In some cities, they've also been caught deliberately making the roads less safe
As privately operated red-light cameras proliferate across the country, cities and towns shortening yellow lights spike the number of tickets, and thereby increase revenue. The profits come at a social cost, as shorter yellow light times have been associated with an increase in car accidents.

While not new, the profit-driven development continues across the country, with private companies like Redflex Traffic Systems reaping the rewards. In February, the city of Fremont, California, pledged it would refund at least $490,000 in tickets to drivers after it was revealed that for a period of time in 2016, yellow-light times at two key intersections were shorted from 4.7 to 4 seconds, driving an increase in tickets. Each of those intersections was outfitted with red-light cameras run by Redflex Traffic Systems.
This is one reason to keep an eye on Paul Hollis' bill in the coming legislative session which would put an end to the traffic camera scheme statewide.  I say keep an eye on it, but don't expect it to pass. Not with so much money tied up in maintaining the ripoff.

But as City Council moves toward imposing a new set of fines and fees ostensibly in the name of bicycle safety, it's worth remembering what actually spurs them to action.

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