Speed Camera Clocks Bicycle at 57 MPH

A DC area community parted ways with the company running its traffic cameras after repeated errors of absurd magnitude.

A DC area community parted ways with the company running its traffic cameras after repeated errors of absurd magnitude.

Washington Times (“Bike ‘going’ 57 mph finishes Cheverly’s speed-camera deal“):

The Prince George’s County town of Cheverly sent a letter in July to speed-camera vendor Optotraffic, informing the company that one of its cameras had caught a bicycle going 57 mph — just 26 mph off the world record for a flat surface.

The obvious error, town officials wrote, was the latest in a pattern of inaccurate readings by the Optotraffic device, which had caught another bike going 38 mph and an “invisible vehicle” traveling 76 mph.

Cheverly parted ways with Optotraffic in August and has since hired a new company. However, Optotraffic continues to provide speed cameras for more than a dozen Prince George’s municipalities and for the county, despite continuing charges that its equipment is inaccurate and used more to make money than increase safety.

“We’ve heard traffic engineers and police officers really express concerns about the accuracy of the equipment,” AAA Mid-Atlantic spokesman John Townsend said Tuesday. “It’s those kinds of questions that can undermine the entire program statewide.”

Optotraffic, based in Lanham, has controlled the lion’s share of camera contracts in Prince George’s since local governments began installing the devices in 2009. The company installs and operates the devices in school zones, leaves local governments in charge of processing the citations and typically receives about 40 percent of revenue from the $40 tickets.

Critics say the cameras register exaggerated speeds and are often placed to catch a high volume of drivers without necessarily improving pedestrian safety.

This is generally considered a feature rather than a bug by municipalities, who rely on these dastardly and dubiously constitutional devices as a backdoor tax. Cheverly officials deserve kudos for saying enough is enough to this obvious farce.

FILED UNDER: Law and the Courts, , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Cheverly officials deserve kudos for saying enough is enough to this obvious farce.

    Have they refunded all the tickets collected under the system over the years? How many cars were ticketed for going 57mph by the same camera and had to pay because they couldn’t point out the absurdity?

  2. Franklin says:

    was the latest in a pattern of inaccurate readings by the Optotraffic device, which had caught another bike going 38 mph

    Those temporary speed displays that the cops sometimes put up around here never seem to register me on my bike (nor running on foot). But regardless, we’ve got our bike computers and many of us have gone over 38mph, typically on a steep hill. Yes, it’s scary as hell.

  3. michael reynolds says:

    You think that’s bad, my own speedometer keeps telling me I’m speeding. Can’t trust any of these gadgets.

  4. Richard Gardner says:

    My record on a bike is 54mph on a steep downhill at high elevation (Rockies). Damn scary. Not possible anywhere near DC (Hmmm Alaska Street in NW, but it is real short).