If you follow local Winnipeg news, you probably heard about the kerfuffle over a photo radar speed trap at Grant Ave. and Nathaniel St. where the Canadian Taxpayers Federation and anti-speed trap advocates Wise-Up Winnipeg are urging people not to pay their tickets because they believe the speeds aren't being measured properly.
Earlier in the year, Wise-Up Winnipeg also questioned whether the speed limit was properly posted on this stretch of road.
Here's the thing: even if the speed limit signage is posted correctly, and even if the radars are calibrated properly, these tickets should never have been issued. Why? Because the speed limit itself is incorrect.
This is not just my opinion. It is fact. I'll explain: In 2003 a report was submitted by the Winnipeg Public Works Department titled "SPEED LIMIT ON GRANT AVENUE AND ON KENASTON BOULEVARD". The report was conducted by traffic analysts and signed by J.A.Thomson, Director of Public Works. It has since been removed from the City of Winnipeg web site (at least I can't find it) but I happen to have a copy.
"The measured 85th percentile speeds on Grant Avenue between Stafford Street and Kenaston Boulevard and on Kenaston Boulevard between Grant Avenue and Academy Road range between 61 and 68 km/h. The collision rates ... are comparable to the city-wide average of 3.3 on regional streets with similar characteristics. Based on this information and on the widely accepted practice for setting speed limits using the 85th percentile speed, it is reasonable to set 60 km/hr speed limits on Grant Avenue between Stafford Street and Kenaston Boulevard and on Kenaston Boulevard between Grant Avenue and Academy Road. Furthermore, it is expected that making these changes ... will (i) result in more efficient transportation routes along these streets, (ii) reduce the incidence of short-cutting traffic on adjacent residential streets, and (iii) provide motorists travelling along these routes with a more consistent driving environment in terms of uniformity in speed limits."When this study was brought before council it was rejected for unspecified reasons:
"The Standing Policy Committee on Public Works did not concur in the administrative recommendation and therefore did not increase the speed limit.The traffic analysts collected all this data, did all that analysis, and council just tossed it into the garbage can without any apparent consideration. Even if the policy is good the optics are bad, therefore the elected councillors won't even touch it. Get the Community Committee to agree and maybe we'll consider it ... as if that will ever happen. That's leadership for you.
Further, the Standing Policy Committee on Public Works requested that in the future, consideration of speed limits be referred initially to the Ward Councillor and if necessary to the respective Community Committee." (soucre: Minutes - Standing Policy Committee on Public Works - January 13, 2003)
There is a permanent red light camera installed on Kenaston Boulevard between Grant Avenue and Academy Road at Corydon Ave., and this Nathaniel St. mobile speed trap is on Grant Avenue between Stafford Street and Kenaston Boulevard. In both cases tickets are being issued to drivers that are driving a safe speed according to traffic industry standards. It is immoral and objectionable and counter-productive to issue speeding tickets to people in areas where you KNOW the speed limits are too low.
The reason I found this study in the first place is because a few years ago I was nailed with a photo radar ticket on Kenaston Blvd. I challenged it in court. I presented this study as evidence to show that the speed I was driving was safe according to accepted standards and argued that enforcing this ticket violated the intent of the law, which ultimately is to make streets safer. In fact, enforcing an artificially low speed limit can make streets more dangerous because it causes speed differentials to increase (less consistency in the speeds people drive) which leads to increased accident rates.
Unfortunately the judge I got was completely incapable of comprehending this argument. "But .... you were going over the speed limit."
GAAAAAA! This is why you're almost at retirement and still stuck working traffic court! (I didn't say that out loud.)
Perhaps if I had appealed I would have got a judge with a capacity for independent thought and abstract concepts, but appealing takes time and money and I wasn't up for the challenge at the time. However, if one of you have recently been dinged with a ticket in one of these areas, I will gladly send you this study and I will give you my full support and encouragement as you attempt to fight your ticket.