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City Hallways (Oct. 3) The red-light camera debate rages on in City Hall

Two sides of the red-light traffic debate

There’s been a lot of back and forth for a very long time on whether or not the city should install red-light cameras as a way to cut down on speeding and accidents in neighborhoods and to reduce crashes at intersections.

Mayor Byron Brown proposed them in 2007, only to run into repeated opposition from the Common Council.

When University District Councilman Rasheed Wyatt held a public hearing on it last July after a rash of hit-and-run accidents – including three fatalities - dozens of people showed up for the City Hall meeting. Most of them were against the idea. So were most of the 12 speakers.

And today, the Common Council will vote to adopt a resolution asking Albany for authorization to start a one-year pilot program, although Delaware District Councilman Joel Feroleto made it clear on Monday that he will vote no.

His reasons for objecting include studies showing rear-end collisions increase because drivers worried about getting tickets slam on their brakes when they see the light changing.

He also said that in 2012, there were 533 municipalities that had them, but 100 of them have gotten rid of them, including Rochester.

And he said red light cameras may negatively affect foot and vehicle traffic on Hertel Avenue, a vibrant business district. The side streets could get inundated with extra traffic because drivers will want to avoid areas where red light cameras are located.

“You want traffic on Hertel,” said Feroleto whose district includes Hertel Avenue.

On the other hand, Wyatt said many of his block clubs are “very much in support” of installing the red-light cameras and so are many residents who live around Bailey Avenue and Main Street.
But, he added, he understands some Council Members may be concerned about their constituents not being happy with the notion.

"And some of them refer to what Rochester did,” said Wyatt. “But Rochester did it because they felt their minority community was being penalized, and in my mind I’m saying, ‘Well don’t go through the red light, you won’t be penalized.' It’s not something that’s arbitrary.”

“I’m not dumb to the fact it could impact a community negatively but only if you violate the law,” he said.

The Common Council will convene its regular business meeting today at 2 p.m in Council chambers on the 13th floor of City Hall.

More traffic news

Another traffic issue that's been getting a lot of attention involves traffic safety checkpoints being conducted by Buffalo Police.

On Monday, representatives from the Western New York Law Center and the National Center of Law and Economic Justice announced that they will file a lawsuit against the Buffalo Police Department over the department's refusal to produce records about the checkpoint program.

Get the details from this story written by my colleague Harold McNeil.

Last week, police officials released a report to the Common Council detailing every traffic checkpoint conducted in the city between Aug. 4 and Sept. 20.


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