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Posts Tagged ‘photo radar’

So now the province is responding to the surprisingly popular sentiment by the Provincial Tories to ban mobile photo radar.  They are going so far as to have a big press conference to talk about this very subject.

UPDATE: The NDP government refuses to refund money, calling the unjust issuance of tickets a “legal technicality” and saying that it’s the city that didn’t want to give the money back.  I wonder if a class action suit will be coming.

See Winnipeg Free Press

As the loyal opposition for the province of Manitoba, why can’t the Tories bring about this kind of result on the big issues that have been dragging this province down for over a decade?  Where is the Tory campaign to save health care?  Where is the Tory campaign to deal with the death by neglect of aboriginal Manitobans?

The answer: the Tories put politics above all else, and they see photo radar as a way to make the NDP bleed.  So the NDP will respond, and will do their best to marginalize the Tory position, and they’ll probably succeed, as Crocus and the “Vote Tax” issues show.  You see, the NDP puts politics above all else, too, and they’re better at it.

There is only one party that puts principle before politics in Manitoba, and that can be seen time and time again by the work of the Liberal party on all of the issues that matter.  The Liberals aren’t into the “flavour of the month” style of politics demonstrated by the PCs and NDP; that’s why the Liberal platform is the most reasoned and respected of the Manitoba parties.

As more Manitobans compare the fad politics of the other parties with the common sense policies of the Liberals, they’ll see that there’s only one party that puts the task of making Manitoba better first.

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More on this issue: Jim Cotton Take III, The Black Rod, My Left Nut, A City Trapped by Its Past, Tom Brodbeck, Never Eat Yellow Snow, Jon Gerrard, PolicyFrog

From PC Manitoba Leader Hugh McFadyen: “We’ve had a much stronger response on this issue than just about any other one in my three years as leader. This one takes the cake in terms of the number of people contacting us. We were getting hundreds of emails even before we launched the petition.”  (Winnipeg Free Press – May 11th, 2009)

Now I don’t doubt that Mr. McFadyen’s office is getting the highest number of feedback from voters on this issue.  That doesn’t make me feel any better.

People are dying in our hospital system and neither the bloated bureaucracy nor the NDP government are working on anything that will help to solve this crisis.  We have children who are losing their lives as a result of serious problems in northern communities involving social services and infrastructure, with nothing by way of an action plan from the Premier.  And we have an addiction to Federal Transfer payments at a time when our benefactor in Ottawa is running into record deficits, yet there is no ambition from the NDP to reduce the need for transfers or even to pay down our provincial debt.

So what does it take to have people phoning their politicians or signing online petitions or joining various Facebook groups?  Why, photo radar, of course.

I don’t believe it’s a political issue with any legs, and I’d like to see it resolved as soon as possible so that we can deal with some of the things that should be big issues but apparently just aren’t.  So I’ve come up with the same solution that I’m sure most people have already figured out for themselves, but which seems to escape both the Tories and the NDP.

I received a ticket myself on Lagimodière; there were not only no workers, but no equipment or barricades on the road, and I don’t even recall seeing a reduced speed limit sign.  That is unjust, and that’s why I decided to fight the ticket.  However, I have relatives who work on the highways, so I don’t like this idea of “no ticket when there are no workers” blanket for speeding in construction zones.

How do you know when there is a worker present?  If you are driving along five kilometres of construction, there are going to be large stretches where there are no workers, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be any workers at all.

With every issue of fairness, there are varying shades of “fair”.  I did not feel it was fair for me to pay a ticket because there was no clear indication that it was a construction zone, which is why I didn’t automatically slow down as I would do in an actual construction zone.  It felt to me that the photo radar ticket violated the spirit of the law, as I knew that it was penalizing people who would have slowed down had they been in an actual construction zone.  But there are also people out there who would have sped through no matter what the signage, and there are also a number of people who would have sped through even with workers present.

The problem with saying that there needs to be workers present is that it becomes the responsibility of the driver to determine when there are workers present.  In addition, if two lanes are reduced to one, workers or no workers there should still be a reduction in speed.  Having a series of barricades along a road, along with other hazards inherent to a work site, means that speed should be reduced.  The problem with Lagimodière Blvd was that both lanes were open, there were no workers, the barricades were completely off of the lanes, and no equipment was visible at the site.  A construction zone speeding ticket is a violation of the spirit of the law, so in that case an override by the government is appropriate.

What we need is an amended law that makes it clear what a construction zone is and forbids speeding within that construction zone.  In my opinion (common sense as opposed to actually digging out the laws), a construction zone is any of the following:

  1. A stretch of road is a construction zone where there are workers present; or
  2. A stretch of road is a construction zone for the entire length of time that obstructions related to construction (such as barriers or pylons) are in place on the roadway, even if no workers are present; or
  3. A stretch of road is a construction zone for the entire length of time that the road surface or lane structure are compromised or temporarily altered by the ongoing construction process, whether or not there are workers or barricades present.

(There may also be a need to separate construction zones into two different grades, where any zone with workers present will have a lower speed limit and higher fines for speeding, but I’m not sure that would be an improvement.)

When a stretch of road meets one or more of these criteria, it is then appropriate to have prominent signage displayed (preferably with flashing lights) to denote that it is a construction zone and that speed much be reduced.  If a stretch of road had workers who have left for the day and no obstructions or compromised road surfaces or laneways, the signage should be removed until the workers return to the site.

Why is that important?  Because it’s a contract between construction crews and motorists, and if the motorist keeps seeing “reduced speed” construction zones that don’t have workers, obstructions, etc., there is an increased chance that the motorist will defy the contract and speed through.  By taking the time to mark construction zones fairly, any excuse for speeding through a construction zone is removed.

If a ticket was issued when an area marked as a “construction zone” did not meet the three criteria when the alleged offense took place, the ticket should be made invalid.  However, there should not be a blanket ban on tickets for speeding when “no workers are present”, because that’s the kind of ban that will cost lives.  And even though the fines are the issue that is making people angry enough to speak up, it’s the lives of construction workers and motorists that are more important in the end.

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