Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Baltimore County Councilmember Calls for Speed Camera Expansion

Baltimore County Councilmember Tom Quirk is calling for an increase in the number of speed cameras in that county.  Baltimore County initially implemented a modest pilot program with 15 camera sites in existing school zones, a number which was built into the county's original authorization for speed cameras.  The new proposed legislation would remove the restriction and allow an unlimited number of cameras.

Quirk states that his motivation for adding cameras is "to make our communities more walkable and bike-able."  However a local chapter of a group which advocates smaller government have raised objections to the proposed legislation, stating that it is "simply a mechanism for generating revenue" and that "There's no evidence (the cameras) are doing any good for the community."

Some areas in the state, including Baltimore City and many municipalities in Prince George's County, took a less cautious approach than Baltimore County, creating vast numbers of new school zones solely for the purpose of adding speed cameras and allowing unlimited numbers of camera sites right from the start.  Some towns have even lowered speed limits and placed cameras at the newly created speed limit transition zones, a practice which vastly increases the number of $40 tickets issued.  In other parts of the state juridsictions have taken it upon themselves to further restrict the legal rights of defendants (including people who believe they were issued tickets in error), for example by taking away their right to face the camera operator in court.  Lifting the restriction on the number of cameras could mean that the "special introductory offer" of relatively limited camera use is about to end and that Baltimore County might begin to follow the precidents set in other parts of the state.

The legislation will be introduced at a Monday January 3rd legislative session (see upcoming meeting agendas). Council meetings are open to the public (**of course most citizens will never attend a public meeting and a small portion of the population who are there to request expanded government services, which require more funding from any source they can find, often dominate them).  The bill likely already has enough supporters on the council for it to pass.  Members of the county council can be contacted HERE.