Montreal Roadway Infrastructure: Red Light/Speed Cameras

Approaching Avenue Christophe-Colomb on Rue Belanger in Montreal’s Little Italy.

Fixed and mobile speeding/red light cameras have been in place in Quebec cities since a 2009 pilot study first tested the idea. That’s not too long before Albuquerque voters “advised” getting rid of the City’s red light cameras at 20 spots around town in 2011.

The arguments for and against this type of enforcement are many, and are heard just as often in Montreal as ABQ as elsewhere. The latest gyration of the debate is in New York, where the City’s state-authorized program for cameras in school zones looks like it will end on July 25th.

This despite:

New York City Department of Transportation data showed that the use of traffic cameras cut speeding by 63 percent and crashes by 15 percent in school zones that use them, but the data was not enough to force any kind of compromise.

So while ABQ went away from such enforcement, Montreal has slowly grown its program to around 15 sites, most of them mobile units. That said, the program still has critics, ticketing has decreased in some plces, and the arguments against their use will sound very, very familiar to those of us in Burque:

The drop in ticketing could be due to a Quebec court decision in late 2016 that rejected evidence obtained from a photo radar machine.
In that case, the judge ruled that since police didn’t personally witness the woman breaking the law or check to see if the radar machine was functioning properly, the evidence against her amount to hearsay.
The Crown did not appeal the ruling.

But Montreal still has the cameras. Concerning the stretch of speed camera road noted in the photo atop this post, it’s fun to read the criteria used to determine Christophe-Colomb as a good site for cameras:

Site characteristics warranting the installation of a device
Distinctive feature: Large number of accidents; high cyclist traffic
Traffic volume: 32 000 vehicles per day
Speed: 50 km/h

Number of accidents before the device was installed
Period: From January 1, 2010 to December 31, 2014
All types of accidents: 419 accidents
Accidents with bodily injuries: 199 accidents involving injuries

No information is yet posted regarding accidents since the cameras went in along Christophe-Colomb in November, 2016. Yeah, I’d like to see those numbers, and, yes, I am hoping they show a decrease in accidents, particularly “accidents with bodily injuries.”

Until the statistics come along, I’ll just report the “Vitesse” signs put a smile on my face as a cyclist riding through the street, almost as big as smile as reading big, wide Christophe-Colomb averages 32,000 cars a day, yet has only a 31 mph speed limit (and cameras!). What if San Mateo Blvd. in ABQ had a 31 mph posted speed limit? What if Coors Blvd. did? Maybe we’d see more scenes like this in Albuquerque:

mother and daughter
Mother and daughter waiting for the light at Bellechasse and St. Laurent (going from one protected cycle track to another). Note the lack of lycra and high “dork helmet” factor here. A truly beautiful sight. 

It’s take a village of roadway infrastructure to raise a child riding along on a bicycle. Speed/red light cameras are just part of a delicious safety breakfast, along with cycle tracks, lower posted speed limits, etc. Montreal’s infrastructure isn’t in place because things like red light cameras as debated any less than they are in Albuquerque; it’s in place because policy decision-making isn’t first and foremost centered on getting people in motor vehicles as quickly from Point A to Point B with only “reasonable” numbers of crashes, injuries, and deaths.

More about Vision Zero in Montreal in the next post.

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