California Appeal Court Finds Red Light Cameras Unreliable

Legal controversy continues to dog California’s automated enforcement programs, despite the best effort of state lawmakers to encourage photo ticketing. The second-highest court in California decided Thursday that the red light camera program in Riverside “did not produce reliable evidence” in rejecting the $500 citation that Redflex, a private, for-profit vendor, had mailed to Viktors Andris Rekte.

Rekte, a lawyer, challenged the ticket he received for allegedly making a rolling right turn a split-second after the signal turned red at the intersection of Tyler Street and State Route 91 on October 26, 2012. Rekte argued the charge should be thrown out because the yellow light was illegally short; he was not provided a copy of the video evidence before trial; the photo ticketing vendor set up equipment in a way that obscured the view of the traffic signal; and the evidence produced by Redflex lacked a proper foundation.

Don Teagarden, a city employee, testified that he “reviewed” the ticket that Redflex sent to him. Since Redflex bills its service as a “turn key” operation, Teargarden proved to have little to do with the process. His direct knowledge of the evidence was limited.

“On cross-examination, operator Teagarden acknowledged he could not tell if the monthly inspections of the equipment conducted by Redflex included verification of the time intervals for the signal lights, and did not know if anyone employed by the city of Riverside checked to make sure the system was calibrated properly,” Justice Manuel A. Ramirez wrote for the Court of Appeal majority…

The majority also expressed disapproval of the dangerous state of the intersection and declared the evidence produced by a questionably calibrated device inadmissible.

An inadequate yellow light interval renders a safe stop impossible, and constitutes an emergency justifying the entry into an intersection when the signal turns red,” Justice Ramirez wrote… (more)

Longer yellow lights make crossing intersections safer for everyone. All modes should be able to judge how long they have to pass through an intersection when the light turns yellow, including pedestrians. The lack of consistency in the yellow light program leads to confusion and panic, which causes more accidents.



Plan Moves Ahead to Ease Congestion and Allow Bikes on Richmond-San Rafael Bridge

By 2017, if all goes according to plan, people will be able to bike and walk across the upper deck of the 5.5-mile Richmond-San Rafael Bridge, an idea that bike advocates have been pushing for nearly 40 years.

“It’s exciting to finally see this project moving forward,” says Renee Rivera, executive director of Bike East Bay. “There will be so many new opportunities that open up by having bicycle and pedestrian access to the bridge.”

A Bay Area Toll Authority committee Wednesday approved $4.6 million for a contractor, HNTB Corp., to draw up a final design, which includes converting a shoulder into a third vehicle lane on the lower deck to ease congestion and delays for eastbound drivers.

The new path will fill a major gap in the Bay Trail, a 330-mile network of bicycle and pedestrian paths that will some day grow to 500 miles, and wrap around the entire bay, across all eight bridges.

Five bridges are currently accessible by bike and foot, although the Bay Bridge path currently stops before Yerba Buena Island. Officials at the Metropolitan Transportation Commission are studying building a path across the western span to San Francisco, but say it’s still many years away… (more)

Where is the plan to pay for any of this when everyone gets ride of their cars and starts riding bikes? When the state starts licensing bikes and developing revenue from them they should use that revenue to develop bike lanes on bridges.