Red light Camera

On Monday, PennLive published a largely fact-free, and grammar-challenged op/ed by Tom McCarey, opposing the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia’s efforts to make streets safer and put an end to Philadelphia’s traffic violence epidemic.

In the op/ed, McCarey – who at first was not identified as a member of the National Motorists Association, a group lobbying against automated enforcement in Pennsylvania – lambasted the Bicycle Coalition as a group interested in automated traffic enforcement for the sake of “more grant [sic] for the bicycle coalition’s projects in the city.”

(Note: Automated Red Light Enforcement fines are collected by Philadelphia Parking Authority, sent to PennDOT, and then the money is granted around the state, and a portion of that revenue is granted to the city of Philadelphia, not the Bicycle Coalition.)

McCarey went on to say automated enforcement does not work, that we insist “100 percent of its manifesto be enacted,” that we are not willing to have a debate, that we remove pro-car comments from our website, and that we “admit” that automated enforcement via cameras don’t work.

The op/ed has already been trashed in a great column by the Philly Voice’s Brian Hickey, who called the National Motorists Association’s opinions “a mashup of NRA scare tactics, Men’s Rights Activism’s smallest-violin quartet and protectionism akin to Donny Trump’s border wall.”

We agree. And Hickey’s piece is a must-read.

But for those who read McCarey’s piece and are not sure what’s real and what Tom McCarey, member of the National Motorists Association, made up, let me clear it up for you.

In April, 27-year-old Philadelphia engineer and Drexel graduate was killed by a hit-and-run driver while riding his bicycle on Market Street in West Philadelphia. His family and friends soon contacted the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, and other groups, asking if something could be done to prevent future tragedies from happening.

We explained that in addition to the Vision Zero work the Coalition and others are working on in the city, there are several statewide bills that are based on laws that have been proven to make streets safer for all road users – specifically, bills related to automated enforcement.

Philadelphia has had red light cameras at 27 intersections since 2007, and, at all those intersections, crashes have fallen. The statewide red light camera program is set to expire in 2017. We support a bill that would extend the red light camera program to 2027. And we are working with motor vehicle service organization AAA on getting these bills passed. (AAA’s own studies have shown red light cameras to be effective.)

We also support updating Pennsylvania’s radar law, which currently makes us the only state in the country in which local police cannot use radar to detect if a motor vehicle user is speeding.

Lastly, we support a series of bills, which would allow for a speed camera Pilot on Roosevelt Boulevard – once the deadliest road in Philadelphia.

These are not extreme bills. All of the pieces of legislation we’re advocating for have already been done – successfully – in other American cities.

When McCarey wrote, “People who care about driving issues have tried to talk to the bike coalition. But they refuse any discussion,” he was wrong. McCarey’s National Motorists Association colleague John Baxter actually came in and met with the Bicycle Coalition’s leadership earlier this year to talk through many issues after he published an op/ed denouncing our work.

And the part where McCarey said, “The coalition admits that if red light and speed cameras and widespread RADAR were legal, they likely would have no effect on preventing accidents or deaths”?

That was 100 percent made up.

I asked PennLive publicly to take it down, but they refused.

Members of the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, safe streets advocates, and volunteers will be traveling to the state Capitol tomorrow morning to advocate for these automated enforcement bills. We will be joined by Jamal Morris’ mother, Channabel, whose leadership on these issues has been inspiring.

If you’re interested in attending, you still can! Email for details.

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