Newly released Edmonton photo radar data can guide city policy, councillor says

New photo radar data released by the city could help guide future traffic enforcement efforts and dispel the idea that it’s used as a cash cow, says councillor Andrew Knack.

Knack and Coun. Jon Dziadyk asked city staff for a breakdown of collisions and tickets according to location of automated enforcement vehicles. 

The data has been posted on the city’s community and public services committee agenda. 

Knack is optimistic the city can analyze the data, pin down the greatest need according to the location and dispel the idea that it’s always used for a cash cow. 

“I often get people who will say, particularly on the Henday. ‘Oh, it’s just there for, you know, getting cash’,” Knack said in an interview with CBC News Thursday.  

Knack said some research shows photo radar is effective in reducing collisions and speed but the city must be clear in which locations it works. 

“If we have that level of data and analysis in all of these locations that’s how you start to adjust the perception of those who have been really reluctant to get behind photo radar because they haven’t seen that firsthand.”

The report released for the community and public services committee last week shows ten locations with the most frequent enforcement and speed violations. 

According to the report, the top enforcement sites:

  • Gateway Boulevard at Ellerslie Road SW (Northbound)
  • Stony Plain Road between 178th and 182nd Street (Westbound)
  • Whitemud Drive between 50th and 75th Street (Westbound)
  • Yellowhead Trail at 7710 Yellowhead Trail (Westbound)
  • Anthony Henday Drive at Yellowhead Trail (Southbound)
  • Yellowhead Trail at Anthony Henday Drive (Eastbound)
  • Anthony Henday Drive at Ray Gibbon Drive (Eastbound)
  • 82nd Avenue between 91st and 95A Street (Westbound)
  • 82 Avenue between 89th and 87th Street (Eastbound)
  • Whitemud Drive at 50th Street (Westbound)

From the top 10 list, the two locations on 82nd Avenue had the most collisions, with a combined total of 64 between the two locations from 2017-2019. 

The top location for tickets issued was Gateway Boulevard at Ellerslie Road SW, which saw 20,295 handed out in 2018, a rise from 17,837 the year before.

The highest total in any year was the Stony Plain Road location that had 24,444 tickets issued in 2017, though that number dropped to 19,109 in 2018. That location also led the way in deployment hours, with 1,380 in 2018. 

“Are there other tools that we could be deploying that would have the same benefit, so are there locations where photo radar is having measurable impact where other tools wouldn’t work or is it just we haven’t tried other tools?” Knack asked. 

One such tool is lowering the speed limit, as council decided on Wednesday to do in residential areas — from 50 km/h to 40 km/h — starting next year.

Dziadyk was one of five councillors who voted against the move, but said other methods could be used to ensure roads are safer. 
“I would suggest we should not be relying solely on photo radar,” Dziadyk said in an interview Thursday. “Where we can go from here: more critically look at photo enforcement as a tool, make sure police have all the resources that they need to keep our roads safe.” 

The question will then be how to fund the alternative tools. 

“There’s not a lot of money for traffic engineering,” Knack said, referring to the council vote Wednesday to lower the speed limit. 

Other traffic calming measures have been suggested for residential neighbourhoods, like speed bumps, but the city has avoided those for the most part because of cost. 

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