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Fremont to keep red light cameras

By Matt Artz
Tuesday, June 1st, 2010 at 8:40 pm in Uncategorized.

catredlightcameraThe City Council just voted unanimously to approve a seven year contract with RedFlex, the company that has installed red light cameras at intersections throughout the city.

One gent spoke out against the contract.

Fremont has been making money off the system, but no all cities do. Union City has been losing money, and last I checked was considering dropping its red light program.

Fremont will be able to terminate its agreement with RedFlex whenever it wants, according to the city.

The council is now hearing a wonkish report about how to get developers to produce more affordable housing. Then there promises to be a sharp debate over the Police Department’s proposal for a new tow-truck vendor.

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  • bbox231

    A couple of Ca-State bills have potential to begin to turn the economics on these things.

    SB1362 just cleared the Senate -

    You can read the original text of SB1362 here -

    Not surprisingly, the California League of California Cities is opposed to the common-sense proposed therein.

    You’ll find their interesting summary of the bills’ content as well as their official position at the bottom of this page -

  • Watchdog

    I am the “gent” who spoke against the redlight cameras. Although my ideas were shot down (and fast!) – I still don’t see the harm in adding 1/2 second to a yellow light at any of the 10 intersections with cameras for a month and checking the results. I contend the results will show a reduction of straight through violations in just one month will more than double any previous reduction in camera activations at the same intersection in the last year.

  • bbox231

    Independant data seems to support the point that Watchdog makes – that is, that the rate of red light “activation” has a strong relationship to yellow-light timing.

    For this very reason, SB 1362 requires that –

    “The yellow light change interval must be established in accordance with the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices . . . . .”

  • MikeTeeVee

    “The yellow light change interval must be established in accordance with the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices . . . . .”

    I’m pretty sure the timing is correct in Fremont, but I recall a nearby town (Union City?) had too-short timing and had to throw out a whole bunch of tickets because of it.

  • bbox231

    What is “Correct” is always relative to some expectation – - –

    If your goal is to maximize the number of tickets you issue for a given intersection – then you set the yellow as short as you can get away with.

    If your goal is to make the intersection as safe as possible, e.g., reduce the number of incusions or “activations” – then you increase the yellow duration.

  • MikeTeeVee

    By “correct” I meant “in accordance with the MUTCD” as SB 1362 requires.

    For more safety, what’s needed is not an extra-long yellow, but a longer all-red. That allows more time for the intersection to clear before cross traffic enters.

    Traffic engineers are reluctant to set signal times above the MUTCD minimums because that reduces traffic throughput.

  • Watchdog

    Fremont has set yellows at MUTCD minimums + 1/10 second at all or most straight thru’s. A bit more on left turns (only 3.0 seconds is required for lefts). I think adding 1/2 second to all red may achieve similar safety results as adding 1/2 second to yellow, but it would not decrease violations.
    I would like a city to test to add 1/2 second to an existing yellow which already meets MUTCD minimum. One thing has not been mentioned is that the 85th percentile speed of, say, Decoto Rd may be 43 mph but the yellow is set for speed limit of 40 mph. This small difference may add 20% to number of tickets.
    Fremont definitely is not looking to decrease violations by extending yellows.

  • MikeTeeVee

    If setting the yellow time based on the speed limit results in more tickets, does that mean those red light tickets should have been speeding tickets?

    It seems like hair splitting to say it’s the wrong kind of ticket since it’s a violation either way. Do we really want to encourage speeding through intersections?

  • Watchdog

    The 85th percentile rule is meant to prevent communities from setting arbitrarily low speed limits. If 85% of motorists drive at say 43 miles per hour, the speed limit may be set at 40 but not 35 unless there exists one of a very few number of exceptions. This criterium for setting speed limits, I believe, was enacted to prevent speed traps. It also recognizes that the community can help set the safe speed of a roadway and that most motorists will drive at a speed commensurate with what they perceive as safe.
    Cities must show legitimate reasons for posting of speed limits. They cannot unilaterally with no oversight set speed limits. This is a good thing.

  • bbox231

    The thoughts re the extending of yellow were predicated on this data -

    “This report suggests there is something that can be done to address this hazard. It cites examples of problem intersections where yellow times have been raised by about 30 percent and the number of people entering on red fell dramatically.

    It cites, in addition, controlled scientific studies that confirm the hypothesis that longer yellows are better. The following reductions in red light entries are documented:

    Mesa, Arizona 73%
    Georgia 75%
    Virginia site 1 79%
    Virginia site 2 77%
    Virginia site 3 Problem “virtually eliminated”
    Maryland Problem “virtually eliminated”

    It is no coincidence that each of the “problem” intersections mentioned above happened to have yellow times that fell short by about 30 percent. Today’s formula for calculating yellow times yields yellow times that can in some cases be about 30 percent shorter than the older formula.”

    See page 2 here –

  • Watchdog

    Does anyone know of a study or real life documented experience of effects of extending yellow light times beyond MUTCD or CalTrans minimum times….besides Loma Linda (2009/10) and San Diego (2001/2002)?? Bbox231… Can you provide any detail on Mesa/GA/Virginia/MD…thanks.

  • swamy

    This red light camera is a way of highway robbery from the city and state. I am one of the victims of the so called red light violation (right turn). They took $465 from me, but I am fighting it. Now I dont generate any tax revenue for Fremont city other than property tax. I bought my car in Milpitas, I buy groceries from Newark or Milpitas(only emergency groceries from Fremont), I dont put gas in Fremont and so on.. If they want to loot from its citizens, the city will pay big price in tax revenues..

  • bbox231

    Here’s the first one I stumbled into after spending 2 minutes surfing around -

    Quote from the above -

    “In August 2005, traffic engineers bumped the yellow light from four seconds to five.

    “Within a week, the police called us,” said Ward Stanford, acting traffic engineer. “They knew pretty quick we had done something because the infractions went down significantly.”

    There’s a comparative challenge here when you try to contrast yellow light durations on an absolute basis. The legal “minimums” vary considerably for a given set of conditions (e.g., vehicle speed, grade, camera controlled or not) – so, what the mandated minimum WOULD be if CA laws were applied is unknown.

    What *is* clear (at least from those data sources who are economically divorced from a particular result) is that increased yellow light duration reduces red light violations.

  • bbox231

    Attached is the original ITE study and print article which used data from a couple of studies, one in MD and one in GA –

    This is the original study to conclude that -

    “..extension of yellow duration reduced the frequency of conflict in ALL cases”

    “An increase of about 1.4 seconds….. in yellow duration virtually eliminated ALL potential conflicts”

    IT also debunks the common response that drivers “acclimate” or get used to yellow light durations. It states that the – -

    “..percentage of last-to-cross vehicles clearing the intersection …was not appreciably changed bye the extension of the yellow phase.”

    What engineers are toying with in setting yellow duration is, in part, a change to a theoretical section of roadway entering any given intersection controlled by an autmoated red light. This theoretical area was first characterized by Gazis, et al and described as a “dilemma zone”.. It is that distance of roadway in which, most drivers – if confronted with a yellow light – will conclude they cannot safely stop but nor can they safely traverse the intersection. Thus – there is a dilemma created for many drivers – the resolution of which has potentially negative consequences.

    Here is a great discussion on this topic -

    The idea that appears to be pretty well accepted is that proper light timing eliminates this “dilemma zone” and elimination of the “dilemma zone” dramatically increases the safety of a given intersection by drastically reducing the number of red-light runners.

    Once again – the original premise that I believe was stated early on in this topic -

    You manage light timing if you want to improve safety, or, you install cameras if you want to generate revenue.

  • bbox231

    Sorry – here’s the original ITE print article -

  • bbox231

    “…red light cameras reduced right-angle crashes by 25 percent and increased rear-end crashes by 15 percent, according to the Federal Highway Administration.”

  • bbox231

    “The report found that although cities claimed their sole interest was safety, officials failed to furnish reliable evidence to back up the assertion.”

    “Recently, the City of San Carlos extended the yellow light time to comply with state standards and found that the number of citations fell dramatically,” the report explained. “As a result the revenue from red light citations could no longer cover the associated costs.”

    “The primary emphasis appears to be on the number of citations issued. Based on the data provided by the cities, there was no overall trend indicating a noticeable change in accident rates before and after installation of red light cameras.”

    “..the appellate division in Orange County issued a decision coming to the same conclusion as the San Mateo court.”

    “It looks like the whole system may be on the verge of tumbling down.”

  • bbox231

    “Motorists who get tickets under the city’s controversial red-light camera program can shrug them off, Los Angeles officials agreed Monday.”

    “An audit by City Controller Wendy Greuel last year found that the cameras cost the city more than it receives in revenue, and that the program has not “conclusively shown to have increased public safety.” ”,0,6729565.story?track=rss

  • bbox231

    “Fremont to keep red light cameras”

    “Los Angeles ends red light cam ticketing program”;contentBody

  • bbox231

    So far, none of our current Council members have done anything about Fremont’s investing in red-light cameras except to support them.

    No one has asked any of the difficult questions.

    Everyone, including Harrisson, Natarajan and Chan have gone along with the plan to renew contracts for these systems, despite overwhelming evidence that –

    1.) Extending yellow-light duration is a sure-fire solution to reducing red-light infractions, and, now;

    2.) These things are of legally dubious integrity.

  • charlie C

    Here’s a *difficult question* for candidate Bacon. Would Fremont be better off today if a major league franchise were to build a state of the art stadium and commit long to term to Fremont?

  • bbox231

    #21 – Charlie you mean, hypothetically, like, IF – for example – Catellus and or NUMMI and or other business interests in the area had not opposed the stadium plan – right?

  • charlie C

    #22…Commissioner Bacon is for less *common sense* and for more Tapioca. Commissioner Bacon is a fool!

  • bbox231

    As for incendiary speakers, we cannot as a society allow what we regard as vile speech to lead us to abandon the cherished value of free speech. But the same Constitution that permits some public figures to engage in hateful commentary also protects my right and duty – and your right and duty – to condemn these merchants of hatred when they come into our community. The best remedy for bad speech is to surround it with good speech.

  • charlie C

    Would you say these *incendiary speakers* like these are going to make Fremont a better place?

  • bbox231

    WHy is it that the pro-stadium, pro-incumbancy crowd is so reliant on anecdote? They broadly generalize while painting pretty pictures of what *could* be. IN their defense, they draw ugly and highly personalized portraiture of those who criticize.

    THese same mouthpieces remain steadfastly ignorant of facts and data, are never willing to ask the pointed questions of their own, and are completely willing to sweep even the most blatant of their own misdirection under the proverbial carpet.

    Such are the attitudes and tactics of those who support your current Council members. The acorn falls not far . . ..

  • bbox231

    Artz does a nice job of documenting the City of Oakland’s slip-up on the red-light camera gambit . .. .

    “Most cities are smart enough not to make it so blatant what there motivations are,” Beeber said. “But in this case, it was pretty blatant.”

    Everything you need to now makes its way into this article EXCEPT one finaly detail which is a notion that traffic engineers refer to as the “dilemna zone”.

    You’ll find this “dilemna zone” described on page 8 – here –

    It is this “dilemna zone” that states attempt to manage with a one-size-fits all approach of state mandated “minimimum” yellow times. Which all PD love to sit on when the issue of yellow duration arises. But what is frequently unspoken is that this “dilemna zone” varies from intersection to intersection based on a drivers sight lines and prevailing traffic speeds. State minimums are just that, something we cannot go below. However, proper evaluation of the characteristics of a given intersection can also argue for an even GREATER minimum – - – IF, that is, your interest is safety first.

  • bbox231

    So embarassing when the facts begin to find their way into the light of day. When other cities begin to substantiate the original data, it’s just a matter of time.

    Now the question is how long will Fremont leaders continue to ignore data which was presented in this venue 2 or 3 years ago – and which Hayward is now confirming as reality in their practical use???

    At some point, the issue of doing the right thing vis a vis these money-makers-masquerading-as-safety-devices becomes subordinate to the damage inflicted on the reputations of our leaders as they continue to deny increasingly weighty evidence and facts. . . .

  • West

    I question the City leaders Integrity, when red light camera’s are set with extremly short yellow caution light. Then it becomes a trap.
    Check all the skid marks and pieces of glass from minor rear ended accidents at the Camera Lights. Most go unreported!

  • bbox231

    Be careful with the “exteremely short yellow” argument as the excuse will quickly follow that the yellow light times do not fall below the state-mandated minimums.

    “Short” is relative . . . .

    And, what it’s REALLY relative to is the given intersection in question. . . . . and approach speeds and driver sight lines, amongst other things. Any traffic engineer that isn’t just mouthing the company line will be glad to explain.

    Read up on the “dilemna zone”

    Add to the above the results realized ANY TIME yellow duration is extended ( a few tenths of a second makes huge swings in the results) and you start coming to the same conclusion Hayward is arriving at.

    Or, you continue to hide behind the pretense that these things are about safety.

  • bbox231

    Jasper – I would have responded to your original post in the original thread you posted to but, TCB admin has decided it’s time to censor for reasons which are completely arbitrary and unrelated to any issue of morality or decorum – - –

    Ourgas says : Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    March 23rd, 2013 at 3:45 pm

    #3 (Jasper Stein) – Fremont’s continued relationship with RedFlex is curious given the very compelling data that has been presented over and over and over and which makes for a clear case that these things are NOT about safety.

    Our staunch allegiance to these gadgets and the company we pay to manage them is even more curious given the obvious “U” turn that other responsible communities are making as their own experiences validate the data that has been staring our City Council members in the face for YEARS.

    If that wasn’t enough – some communities are even beginning to question whether or not RedFlex is “.. a fit company to do business here or anywhere else in the country,” – as a result of their business practices.

    Meanwhile, in Fremont, Harrison, Chan and Natarajan all voted to EXTEND their contract with RedFlex for another seven years.

    Go figure.

  • bbox231

    Jasper – I attempted to responded to your original post in the original thread you posted to but, TCB admin has decided it’s time once again to censor for reasons which are completely arbitrary and unrelated to any issue of morality or decorum – – –

    Argus says : Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    March 23rd, 2013 at 3:45 pm

    #3 (Jasper Stein) – Fremont’s continued relationship with RedFlex is curious given the very compelling data that has been presented over and over and over and which makes for a clear case that red light cameras are NOT about safety.

    Fremonts staunch allegiance to these gadgets and the company we pay to manage them is even more curious given the obvious “U” turn that other responsible communities are making as their own experiences validate the data that has been staring our City Council members in the face for YEARS.

    If that wasn’t enough – some communities are even beginning to question whether or not RedFlex is “.. a fit company to do business here or anywhere else in the country,” – as a result of their business practices.

    Meanwhile, in Fremont, Harrison, Chan and Natarajan all voted to EXTEND their contract with RedFlex for another seven years. (see article above)

    Go figure.

  • Marty

    Looks like Redflex has met Bob Wieckowski’s bribery threshold. Wieckowski introduced AB666, that will eliminate the court process and put judgement in the hands of companies like Redflex. Also the registered owner would be liable for the fine regardless if they were driving the car, among other mods that make it impossible to contest the ticket.

    I must say, Wieckowski is one of the most criminal politicians this state has ever seen. I am ashamed that this tool came from Fremont.

  • Tony Irvington

    Marty and Bbox ..turning up thee HEEATT..

    Maybe we can start burning off some a the crap in our pot that’s fouling up even our best recipes, no matter how much of the good stuff we put in.

    #32 Do you mean FINAL judgement Marty? NO local court process? !!

    Nice Job guys.

    and NOTHING should be censored, except comments that are clearly repetitive and coming from one source.
    Once, twice, whatever, but after that you might as well call it spam, because it is.

  • charlie C

    TONi… Part one, fix youself up a big spamwitch. Part two, demonize a developer…then my brother, all your troubles will be gone!

  • Tony Irvington

    For two people who say they don’t work for a machine, they’re awfully synchronized.

    And now, about that itemized inventory of $50,000 dollars worth of guns the – F.P.D., the City of Fremont, We, (just Who exactly?)- bought Saturday…

    How’s that coming along Chris?

  • Bbox231

    Reposting Jaspers link under relevant topic.

    Its interesting to see how consistantly our leaders and planners will choose to ignore or even avoid data and opt, instead, to permit anecdote and sentiment to guide actions and statements. Backwater politics?

  • Marty

    Reposting Jaspers link under relevant topic.


    I am wondering if every opponent to the cameras has contacted Salwan and Bacon? They are the only sitting members who have nothing to lose from ending Redflex in Fremont.

  • Jasper Stein

    This is scary , I am agreeing with Marty about Bob Wieckowski, AB666, that will eliminate the court process and put judgment in the hands of companies like Redflex.
    Is He committing political suicide, Bob, remember we now have open primaries, another Democrat can run against you.
    I have no idea what Bob is up to since we have no local reporting on the political shenanigans of our politicians. Maybe if we lived in Oakland!!!!
    Also not 666

  • Marty

    Vinnie can make a bold statement if he were to champion this issue. He ran three campaigns themed on rebuking the establishment’s poor leadership. Here he has an issue with reason and facts on his side, fighting anecdote and out-of-state special interests on the opposing side.

    It’s low risk – other bay area cities have set a precedent banning the cameras.

    And high reward – regional and perhaps statewide coverage in the media with promote his name.

    “In this politics, first you get the name recognition, then you get the power, THEN you get the woman.”

  • Jasper Stein

    Update on AB666
    The man behind has announced that they have successfully stopped the so-called “devil’s bill.” If signed into law, AB 666 would have stacked the deck in favor of red-light camera companies and eviscerated the due-process rights of motorists who tried to fight red-light camera tickets in court. Libertarian activist Jay Beeber noted that the bill’s author, Assemblymember Bob Wieckowski, “pulled the bill from consideration before it could be heard in committee. We’re pretty sure he did this due to all the opposition we generated and he knew the bill was destined for defeat.”

  • Bbox231

    Not so low risk i speculate. While facts and reason are on your side the PD have a vested interest in maintaing the revenue streams they, in part, generate.

    Another suggestion- Redflex should diversify into the billing of false alarm violations. Since we dont know how to fine someone on our own and since we seem to like outsourced revenue sources, maybe we can restore a subsidized service (residential alarm responses) AND replace a questionable revenue source (red light runners) with one that is predicated on non contrived violations.

  • charlie C

    #40… are you aware that one half of the Fremont city council are screwheads?
    You have said “Let him govern”…are you still good with that?

  • Marty

    #42 I agree the police union can be a snake, so yes, some risk. But he got in without them while running against a PD insider (Rick Jones). Not sure this would make Bacon the enemy of anyone. Might make some friends, or at least one.

  • Marty

    …who knows, he may be a proponent of the cameras. I shouldn’t assume anything.

  • Bbox231

    I agree with all of that.

  • charlie C

    Camera use is growing overall and ” Bacon means business”… therefor I guess Vinnie would be happy to take the easy money, except if it is from a developer.

  • bbox231

    “Since March, Redwood City and Belmont have dropped their red-light camera programs, noting that bribery accusations involving a former Chicago transportation official were leveled recently at an executive with Redflex Holdings, which operates the camera systems. Hayward also dumped its automated ticket system, pointing to a study that shows it doesn’t reduce accidents. ”

    Wait a minute! Why in its coverage of the Belmont decision, did CBS report – “The city said the number of red light runners did not go down, and the accident rate shot up with drivers slamming on their brakes to avoid a ticket.” ????!!!!

    Something’s rotten in Denmark . . .

    If you’re still not sure, just Google “Red Light Camera Redwood City” and “Red Light Camera Belmont”. You can find all kinds of coverage where each of these municipalities repeatedly states safety as a leading concern. There are also some follow-up comments that allude to the Chicago bribery issue.

    Note: I’d love to provide references but there’s an arbitrarily imposed limitation on the number of links which can be provided in a single TCB post.

    So – and here’s the important point – the above quote from Chris D’s article seems to stand in sharp contrast to the reality reported by so many other organizations. Intentional? Don’t know. Maybe he’s just trying to spice up the discussion of an otherwise boring topic a little.

    Why is the distinction important?

    The answer is easy – by claiming that 2 of the 3 cities that have shuttered these things, did so for reasons unrelated to safety, you significantly reduce the readers perception that there is a building wave of consensus that would otherwise stand in sharp contrast to the actions of those who might have recently RENEWED their contracts for these cash-generating machines. (Like – Fremont, for instance) After all, as long as OUR city offices weren’t involved in any kind of bribery, what do we care? – Right?? And, well Hayward – - – you KNOW Hayward is messed up.

    See – it doesn’t look nearly as good when other municipalities are now beginning to listen to and act on the information that has been around for many years which clearly establishes that these things are about money (facts which are also now being corroborated by their own data) – - – while *our* Council and Staff continue to cling to and promote the withering “safety” façade. . .