Red-light cameras: Sharpen your pitchforks
Throughout April and May, the vast majority of red-light camera tickets were written for running the red light in the southbound right-turn only lane at the corner of 16th and Warren. At least one traffic light camera reviewer believed the absence of a turn arrow light could possibly constitute a free right turn for this lane. Seeing an enormous revenue stream drying up, the city took action to prevent this from happening. In what is akin to first issuing expired parking tickets, and then installing the parking meters, Larry Matel, P.E. (Pedestrian Exterminator?)–Managing Engineer, Transportation issued a memo on May 27 to Judge James Doctor, Lt. Pete Fisher and Mike Meacham.
Through the use of voodoo, manure and flawed logic, this memo contends that the two lights controlling southbound traffic also are for the right-hand only turn lane. It further contends this was done deliberately, as part of the city’s grand design to safeguard pedestrians crossing 16th. The problem with this plan is that it does exactly the opposite of what it was designed to do. Pedestrian crossings at light-controlled intersections are designed so that both vehicle and pedestrian traffic travel in the same direction in order to avoid contact. If a right-turn arrow were installed for the right-turn only lane, and remained red while through traffic continued south this would avoid all potential contact between auto and pedestrian. Page 24 of the Washington Drivers Guide, as the memo is fond of misquoting, states you may not travel in the direction of a red arrow. You may proceed after stopping only if it is safe to do so. Neither safety nor common sense can justify a turn signal not being here as the memo states. The logical approach would be to activate the right-turn lane green light simultaneously with the green light for eastbound traffic entering Warren from 16th. Through proper signalization, those pedestrians crossing Warren could be better protected as well.
For those of you not lucky enough to have had your case dismissed as I was, I suggest you sharpen your pitchforks and head for city hall. Only kidding, you may wish to look into a class action suit against the city for the return of your fines.
The memo was admitted into evidence in one of the cases by Assistant City Attorney Ken Bagwell. If you are interested in seeing a copy of this memo perhaps one of the gentlemen mentioned in this letter will allow you to see their copy.