River Forest board: Yes to red light cameras

One board member, residents disagree

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By Megan Dooley

Staff Reporter

River Forest will be getting red light cameras, despite vocal opposition from one board member and multiple residents. The cameras are set to be installed at three River Forest corners; two at Harlem and Lake and one at North and Harlem.

The board voted four to one in favor of the cameras, with Trustee Catherine Adduci abstaining, based on her husband's role as a lobbyist for a red light camera vendor. Trustee Susan Conti voted against the cameras.

Bill McDonald, of the 800 block of Bonnie Brae, said three accidents causing injuries in five years doesn't justify such drastic and expensive measures for residents.

"There are better ways to reduce accidents," he said, adding that he used to walk multiple times daily through the intersection at Lake and Harlem and never felt a hint of a safety concern.

Daniel Lauber, of the 7200 block of Oak, also argued against installing the cameras.

"I'm concerned there's information missing," he said, including numbers on how many vehicles approach the intersection in a given day and how many violate red light laws.

"If the purpose of this is safety, not revenue, then why not send this to the Traffic and Safety Commission for full review?" Lauber asked.

But Conti's proposal to pass the discussion on to that commission for further examination was voted down.

"We're way beyond the step of traffic and safety," said Trustee Michael Gibbs, adding that the board has already acted as the traffic and safety commission.

President John Rigas said red light cameras are beyond the realm of that commission. "They don't have any expertise in that area," he said.

Adduci supported Conti's bid to send the topic to the Traffic and Safety Commission, despite recusing herself from the official vote on red light cameras. "I'm voting on the process," she said, explaining that significant issues like red light cameras should go through the necessary channels before any final decisions are made.

Adduci disagreed with Rigas' assertion that the Traffic and Safety Commission has no expertise on red light cameras, which were discussed as a safety measure to help decrease the number of accidents at high-traffic intersections in town. "You keep saying the Traffic and Safety Committee has no expertise on traffic and safety," she told Rigas. "I believe that's the purpose of that committee."

The board finally voted in favor of the red light cameras but decided to table a vote to sign a contract with camera vendor Safe Speed (not the company Adducci's husband lobbies for) until the Sept. 12 board meeting.

Reader Comments

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Jim from River Forest  

Posted: November 27th, 2012 3:56 PM

Red light cameras have arrived in River Forest! Thanks to John Rigas's tie breaking vote, River Forest joins the ranks of communities who prey drivers who may almost stop, but do not come to a complete stop. Look for the $200 ticket in the mail!

Economic Less Development  

Posted: November 5th, 2011 7:18 PM

Rigas is driving business out of RF, and property taxes will KEEP going up. These RED light cameras were his idea - and done without public discussion (an open invitation) So, he will have to live with the bad press that will be coming. I can not wait to see how safety/accidents have dropped. Oh, that will be hard cuz it was never studied to begin with. Hey - I thought he believe in traffic studies - I just read that in the paper??


Posted: November 5th, 2011 5:07 PM

I avoid areas with red light cameras (mainly because of the one-one thousand....three-one thousand) rule for right turns on red. I hope it won't hurt the commerce in the area. It certainly won't help with regard to pedestrians treating lights as suggestions.

Mares from River Forest  

Posted: November 5th, 2011 4:51 PM

As a pedestrian who crosses that intersection on a daily basis, I can say "chaotic" is the best word to describe it. Not only cars, but also pedestrians treat the traffic lights as mere suggestions. The camera's are long overdue. Thank You President Rigas & the Board

RF - Money Grab  

Posted: November 5th, 2011 4:33 PM

One has to wonder, why the rush to put cameras. As where is the proof the area is a safety risk. Sounds like the system was rigged AGAINST the people. http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/story/2011-10-26/red-light-camera-deals/50943554/1 http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=141744850

Joe Donnellan from Wakefield, Massachusetts  

Posted: October 13th, 2011 11:35 AM

Residents are right to have their doubts about these traffic cameras. Privatized traffic law enforcement systems may or may not be a useful tool in keeping drivers and pedestrians safe. But when private firms and municipalities consider profits first, and safety second, the public interest is threatened. Before pursuing a camera system contract, local governments should heed the advice (http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/intersection/resources/intsafpst092609/long/ ) of the Federal Highway Administration and first investigate traffic engineering solutions for problem intersections or roadways. If officials decide that private enforcement systems are appropriate, they should avoid deals that constrain decisions about protecting safety. Privatized traffic law enforcement should be used solely as a tool for enhancing traffic safety - not as a cash cow for municipalities or private firms. The U.S. Public Interest Research Group will be releasing a report on this subject on October 27. Once it is released, it will be available at www.uspirg.org/trafficcamreport. - Joe Donnellan for U.S. PIRG

Peter Schmitt from Oak Park, IL  

Posted: August 29th, 2011 2:52 AM

I read with great disappointment that the River Forest Board has voted in favor of red light cameras. These devices "catch" people doing such mundane things as rolling over the white line and making a right turn having slowed to one MPH (something many people do every day!) The ticket is issued even when no pedestrian or vehicle is near and no danger present. Fines are exorbitant and can't be contested in court. Just what we don't need in our villages!

Stupid from Anywhere from Oak Park  

Posted: August 17th, 2011 10:43 PM

Irishman, add this one to your list. Once the camera gets up, it will take care of accidents. Rosey L. Williams, 52, was arrested on Aug. 12 and charged with driving without a valid driver's license, operation of an uninsured vehicle, failure to yield to a pedestrian, and failure to render aid after striking a pedestrian, after Williams struck a person walking across the crosswalk at Lake and Harlem with her vehicle and then fled the scene. The victim was treated for cuts on both hands at a loca


Posted: August 17th, 2011 10:03 PM

Sue Kelty -- either you didn't read the statistics I cited below, or you just don't get it. There will be, AT MOST, the probability of only 1.5 less accidents involving any injuries in 3 years at Lake/Harlem with RLCs. And that 1.5 is for ALL accidents, not just those involving pedestrians.

Sue Kelty from River Forest  

Posted: August 17th, 2011 7:03 PM

Thank you for voting on the red light camera. I am at the intersection of Harlem and Lake almost daily (mostly as a pedestrian) and I can't tell you how many times I've wished there was a camera. Drivers trying to beat the light come dangerously close to hitting pedestrians and delaying the oncoming traffic from moving on the green. If red light cameras will make the corner safer and the village can earn some revenue, then I'm all for it.

AmsterDan from Oak Park  

Posted: August 17th, 2011 2:26 PM

Mayor Rigas: We're onto you and your plans. Today it's the Red Light Camera. Tomorrow it's the Red Light District. GodSpeed, Sir!

James C. Walker from Ann Arbor, MI  

Posted: August 17th, 2011 1:49 PM

Citizens will soon resent the cameras and those that voted for cameras to produce profits, instead of greater safety with longer yellows. To reduce the number of safe drivers punished, add 1.0 seconds to the yellows and prohibit right on red turns. A predatory council won't do that simple move. Citizens must now work to get a public vote, and the cameras WILL lose the vote. See our website for facts. National Motorists Association, www.motorists.org

Stupid from Anywhere  

Posted: August 17th, 2011 12:42 PM

Irishman, and the rest. We all know it's an opportunity to make money. There is nothing wrong with a town wanting to make more money. Irishman, with those numbers going through Lake and Harlem, I'm sure it was explained what the potential revenue can be produced.


Posted: August 17th, 2011 11:50 AM

Safety issue at Harlem/Lake with 5 accidents w/ injuries in 3 years? Hardly. Vendor Safe Speed said RLCs could reduce injuries "up to 30%". O.k. that's a max reduction of 1.5 accidents in 3 years. I'm familiar with traffic counts on Harlem (very high) & Lake (decent). In 3 years, over 80 MILLION vehicles go thru the intersection -- only 1.5 less injuries with RLC. Getting hit by lightning there probably is more likely! RLCs are moneygrabbing, not safety.

roger dominowski  

Posted: August 17th, 2011 10:52 AM

Just another stupid decision--an expensive "solution" to a nonexistent problem.

wanting to move away from river forest illinois  

Posted: August 17th, 2011 1:35 AM

Dan Lauber recognizes Ms. Aducci's legal rights. The word trustee and the actions of this board conflict. Trust is not something inspired by these elected officials. Why were some of the school crossing guards canned until a child was hit by a car last year. Public safety is not the main concern here.


Posted: August 16th, 2011 7:51 PM

Dan, you are correct regarding Trustee Adduci - this time. This was not the case during John Rigas's last attempt to get red light cameras in River Forest. Adduci was involved in that discussion, and her husband Al Ronan's Company RedSpeed was to get the contract. Once all of these "embarrassing" facts were revealed the red light discussion was tabled until the "Rigas Board" was in place this last election.

epic lulz  

Posted: August 16th, 2011 7:33 PM

"How about more stop signs in River Forest?" Agreed. RF's numerous unsigned intersections are much more in need of some signage, any signage, than H&L and H&N are in need of RLCs.

Dan Lauber from River Forest  

Posted: August 16th, 2011 6:09 PM

Let's set the record straight on Trustee Adduci. She is married to Al Ronan who is a lobbyist for one of the red light camera companies -- but NOT the one with which the village is contracting. She has recused herself from discussing or voting on the proposed ordinance even though she does NOT have a legal conflict of interest. She only sought to get the village to follow proper procedure. She actually concludes that the proposed red light cameras are unwarranted in River Forest.

Luke ScottWalker from Oak Park  

Posted: August 16th, 2011 6:03 PM

Another case of government overstepping its bounds. For those freedom lovers, simply Google "license plate shields for cameras" for many products you can buy to hide your plate number from the cameras and starve the beast. We don't want the Oak Park trustees to get any wise ideas about this further intrusion into our lives.

Happy Motorist  

Posted: August 16th, 2011 6:00 PM

As a motorist who travels through those intersections often I applaud putting in the cameras, not for safety reasons, but for traffic control. It infuriates me to sit waiting to turn while many, many people blow the lights. How about Oak Park/Forest Park put one at Harlem and Garfield? That's another intersection that's gotten completely out of control with people ignoring the lights and blocking the intersection. The cameras change behavior. All it takes is one $100 ticket to learn.

Mary O'leary from River Forest  

Posted: August 16th, 2011 5:59 PM

Doesn't Ms. Aducci's husband work for one of the red light companies? She should not be voting on decisions about red light cameras since her husband has such close ties to the company that developed this expensive venture. How about more stop signs in River Forest?

Dan Lauber from River Forest  

Posted: August 16th, 2011 5:01 PM

I was there. The quotations from Trustee Gibbs and President Rigas are accurate. This issue should have originally been referred to Traffic & Safety. I don't know why it wasn't. For full details including financials, visit the site riverforestmatters.com . I must, however, object to the implication that the village taxes are high. Just 11% of our property taxes go to the village; the schools get 70%. You get what you pay for.


Posted: August 16th, 2011 4:55 PM

Of course John Rigas and his android trustees would vote for red light cameras against the wishes of residents. He owes Skip Saviano and Don Harmon big time for their help in getting elected (remember Saviano's and Harmon's plea to elect Rigas and crew in your mailbox?). And Saviano and Harmon owe the red light camera companies big time for campaign donations. Don't forget that Saviano introduced the original red light camera bill. It's a vicious corrupt circle that the RF Board is now part of.


Posted: August 16th, 2011 4:30 PM

Just avoid the RCL's by cutting through the neighborhoods.

Gary M Sullivan from River Forest  

Posted: August 16th, 2011 4:17 PM

If John Rigas was quoted accurately then I don't think he can count on the support of the traffic and safety commission should he choose to run again. I hope that Mike G was quoted incorrectly since I don't think the village board would really want to handle other advisory boards matters. You don't have to be an expert to have common sense in certain matters. Sorry I couldn't have attended but the "red" die was cast prior to public testimony

Pittpanther (former OPer) from Jackson, MS  

Posted: August 16th, 2011 4:17 PM

Did anyone investigate the number of cities and towns that have removed RLCs after installing them? Many areas have removed them after the expected benefits did not happen. Even my "backwards" state of MS has banned RLCs, after a trial period in Jackson. At least 8 other states have banned them as well - was this ever discussed? Watch out for your RLC installation deciding to "short time" the length of the yellow light, to increase revenue.

Done from Oak Park  

Posted: August 16th, 2011 4:05 PM

Once again, if you care to raise revenue, plant officers at stop signs. I know RLC's are easier because they don't require a salaried preson at each intersection, but there is a mountain of money to be made by ticketing everyone - EVERYONE - who rolls through a stop sign. It's the law!

John Walters from Oak Park  

Posted: August 16th, 2011 4:04 PM

The joke is on RF. Most cities that have red light cameras actually see a decrease in the amount of revenue that they are expected to generate because the public is aware of their existence and therefore they stop their behavior in that area (e.g. If I know a red light camera is at North and Harlem, I will completely stop there. But, RF will still have to pay the fixed rate to the company running the red light.

Rich Fischer from Oak Park  

Posted: August 16th, 2011 4:03 PM

How can it be for safety if there were only 3 accidents in 5 years? My understanding of the red light cameras is that you get more accidents than that with the rear end accidents from people stopping quick. I guess they could check on that with their Traffic and Safety Dept if they would know about that.

epic lulz  

Posted: August 16th, 2011 4:01 PM

"The few decide for the masses." Welcome to representative democracy. Your complimentary fruit basket will be delivered tomorrow.

Stupid from River Forest  

Posted: August 16th, 2011 4:00 PM

Rich, Brian and Tom, you are all correct but the man won, and the people lost. The man was treated to all types of promises, and the camera is in. The man knows you will get use to it, just like everything else you have gotten use to.

Rich Brey from Oak Park  

Posted: August 16th, 2011 3:52 PM

This is another government over reach. There is no logic to this. There are not enough accidents here. There is no problem looking for a solution. This is a cynical money grab by out of control politicians - a $100 a pop ATM machine for River Forest and the Camera Lobby. They may as we be predators against the very area residents they are supposed to represent. It is this sort of behavior that will eventually drive me to join the Tea Party. We should all attend the next meeting and vote NO.

Brian Ceccarelli from Cary, North Carolina  

Posted: August 16th, 2011 3:50 PM

It is about the money. Your red light camera companies exploit a physics error in the equation your DOT uses to set the duration of yellow lights. Enforcing this equation to precision is like enforcing a law forbidding gravity. Everyone is guilty. RLCs is the biggest scam the world has ever seen. For the mathemtical proof, see redlightrobber.com.

Aware from Oak Park  

Posted: August 16th, 2011 3:47 PM

I could have written this story last week before approval. It's just the way things are. The few decide for the masses.

Tom from River Forest  

Posted: August 16th, 2011 3:37 PM

The Village of River Forest just raised our taxes. Red light cameras are only about revenue. That is two significant tax increases so far in the Rigas era. Looks like he is bringing what he learned from his years on the District 200 board to our village.

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