published Monday, September 10th, 2012

Save Red Bank's traffic cameras

  • photo
    Traffic light enforcement camera equipment is seen Thursday in Red Bank at the intersection of Dayton Boulevard and Signal Mountain Road.
    Photo by John Rawlston.
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Red Bank's city commissioners, in a 4-1 vote last week, decided to get rid of the four traffic cameras along Dayton Boulevard, the community's main thoroughfare. The decision allowed Mayor Monty Millard to honor a campaign promise and the commission to quiet a high profile campaign against the cameras, but public safety considerations, not political expediency, should govern such decisions. That does not seem to have been the case in Red Bank.

Politics and public opinion prevailed. Camera opponents said that their presence is harmful to business because their use made visitors -- and presumably shoppers -- "avoid Red Bank like the plague." Evidence to support that contention is mostly anecdotal.

The truth is that the current mix of businesses in Red Bank is not as attractive to would-be customers and clients as nearby alternatives. It's also true that many drivers prefer to use nearby roads, especially limited access Corridor J, to commute. Building a better business climate in Red Bank admittedly is a puzzle -- which comes first, more and better stores or increased traffic flow? -- but cameras probably play only a minor role in the conundrum.

Commissioner Ruth Jeno was the only official brave enough to say what needed to be said. She reasonably pointed out that the cameras' effect on safety was more important than their impact on business or city coffers. She was correct, too, to say removal of the cameras could mean a reduction in neighborhood policing and crime reduction programs. If cameras are removed, an ncreased police presence would be required to enforce speed limits and other traffic laws on Dayton Boulevard.

Traffic cameras, if used fairly and not employed solely to pump up a city's treasury, have a beneficial role. They slow speeders and help stop traffic violations. Their presence is generally known and drivers familiar with the area as well as transients who read well-placed signs warning of the cameras' use quickly understand that the presence of a policeman is not necessary to get a ticket for obvious infractions. Only scofflaws ignore such information.

Government has a duty to safeguard its citizens and traffic cameras can help fulfill that obligation. Red Bank officials seem to have forgotten that in their rush to get rid of the cameras. However, they must wait 90 days to fullfill contractual obligtions before the cameras are removed. That's plenty of time for commissioners to reconsider their vote.

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Businesses have been closing in Red Bank for years before the cameras. I certainly can't blame the closure of Godfather's on them, but thatt cwas a company-wide contracture. They won't miraculously appear after either.

If I have to blame anything, it'd be the Wal-mart's around the town. Or just 153 in general. Hard to compete with that when you have buildings from the fifties that don't have parking in the front.

They'd still rather blame the cameras than admit what has been happening for decades.

September 10, 2012 at 1:13 a.m.
EaTn said...

The cat is already out of the bag, so to speak. American governments will soon be flocking to the latest technology, like cameras and drones, to make them feel "safe and secure". To paraphrase another old saying, those who will give up liberties for security deserve neither.

September 10, 2012 at 6:24 a.m.
EaTn said...

JonRoss....don't know how you relate Obamacare to loss of freedom, but in your mind you can also add Social Security and Medicare to that category. I'm not an advocate of government intrusion more than necessary into individual lives, but I'm thankful for some programs that I feel are more beneficial than harmful. There will be changes to Obamacare regardless of the next president, but certain parts of it have already been implemented that won't be cancelled. I wasn't a fan of Bush's prescription meds program either, which was a big government giveaway to the drug companies.

September 10, 2012 at 3:23 p.m.
ChooseRedBank said...

Since this post is unsigned, I'm gonna assume that this "opinion" is from ATS, the company that the City of Red Bank got the cameras from.

September 10, 2012 at 8:26 p.m.
Hilltopp said...

I have lived in RB for a long time. I love living here. It really is a little Shangra La. However, it is clear that RB needs a re-imagining of itself. Despite the conventional wisdom, I do not believe the traffic cameras are the cause of RB's business degradation. Corridor J and moving the grammar school and soon middle school are the main reasons of the demise of downtown RB in my opinion. Like it or not, that is done. Short of a very creative approach to re-inventing RB, becoming a part of the city is the best alternative in my opinion.

September 11, 2012 at 9:07 a.m.
ebenji87 said...

If the cameras are or aren't hurting business, it's great they are finally getting rid of them either way! This is the kind of big-brother government we should be avoiding! People occasionally running red lights are no reason to go putting up spy cams everywhere to take our picture and send us tickets in the mail. What a waste of time!

Even after stopping for a long period of time, I'm still hesitant to make a right turn on red at these lights in fear of them sticking me with a wrongful ticket. I don't like living in unnecessary fear!

September 11, 2012 at 12:15 p.m.
jesse said...

I grew up in Red Bank,was living there when they incorporated! Over the years they have done a fine job of running folks and buis.out! Now they are in the situation where they are grasping at straws ! The cameras were a bad move from the git go for a community in its death throes ! What ever happened to red bank hardware,red bank pharm. fox theater,midway garden,dayton plaza arco? Is Roy Cox still in buis? Heck, they ain't even got no honkey tonks no more!

September 11, 2012 at 3:26 p.m.

ebenji87, and now you're trading one fear for another, that somebody will say "hah-hah, nobody around to catch me, I'll just run this Red Light" and thus...we're not any better off.

You can be concerned about cameras every where if you like, but there's also the concern we have for the people driving on the roads.

What do you intend to do about them?

September 11, 2012 at 8:44 p.m.
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