A final decision about whether or not to install red light cameras at two busy intersections in River Forest will be made at the Monday night meeting of the board of trustees, and one board member is encouraging residents to let their opinions be heard before the issue comes to a vote.
“I happen to feel like it’s not the right thing for River Forest,” Trustee Susan Conti told Wednesday Journal. A steady opponent of the red light camera proposal throughout the years-long discussion, Conti is one of the only board members that remains staunchly opposed to the idea of installing cameras at the two busiest intersections in town, at Harlem and Lake and North and Harlem.
One of the main selling points of the cameras, according to supporters on the board, is the fact that it decreases the likelihood of accidents at these busy intersections.
Trustee Michael Gibbs said one of the more compelling arguments he’s heard on the issue came from River Forest Police Chief Gregory Weiss, who said that the cameras could free officers from the fairly hazardous duty of pulling over motorists who violate the red light laws at these busy intersections.
The fines for red light violations caught on camera would be $100, and Conti has voiced her objection to that number in the past. But Gibbs argued that the fines are actually a bargain compared to being ticketed by an actual police officer, when you factor in court fees and time away from work.
Gibbs said that the cameras should also increase safety for pedestrians attempting to cross the street from the northwest corner of Harlem and Lake, which has a softened curb to allow for buses and trucks to make the turn. An unintended consequence of the “strange design” is that those pedestrians are at greater risk of being hit.
But Conti argued there isn’t enough of a threat to people’s wellbeing to warrant such drastic measures as installing red light cameras.
There have been five automobile accidents causing injuries at the intersection of Lake and Harlem in the past three years. But the proposal the board is considering would only possibly decrease that number by a very small percentage, Conti said, and it’s simply not worth it.
If there’s such a safety issue, Conti said the red light camera proposal should be considered by the village’s traffic and safety committee. But that committee has never discussed the topic.
Conti said she’s sure she’s not alone in her opposition, and there’s still time to speak up before the final decision is made.
“I’m in a minority here and I just need to see if I can get my voice heard too before it goes through,” Conti said. “It’s not a done deal.”