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Nabbed twice by speed cameras, alderman demands better signage

A speed camerFoster near Gompers Park | Stefano Esposito~Sun-Times

A speed camera on Foster near Gompers Park | Stefano Esposito~Sun-Times

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Updated: April 8, 2014 6:30AM

A South Side alderman who got two warning notices recently after speeding around schools and parks is demanding that City Hall put up more and better signs to alert motorists to slow down.

Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) introduced a resolution at this week’s City Council meeting co-signed by a dozen colleagues.

Signs alerting motorists to an upcoming speed camera are “similar to existing speed limit signs,” the resolution states. By contrast, signs warning motorists approaching a red-light camera are “uniquely designed with a traffic signal illustration,” according to the resolution.

The resolution demands that the Chicago Department of Transportation install “clear distinctive signs and/or striping that indicates that a motorist is approaching a school or park safety zone.”

Hairston voted against the speed cameras around schools and parks that Mayor Rahm Emanuel is counting on to raise $70 million for children’s programs in 2014.

The alderman acknowledged that she was alerted to the sign shortage and sign confusion after receiving two recent warning notices of her own. She was caught on camera speeding around schools and parks in unfamiliar neighborhoods.

“It’s hard to know the difference between a school zone and speed zone signage. They’re almost identical,” Hairston said.

“This is still the United States of America. We, as citizens, have rights. There are certain things that must be given to [a] motorist. It cannot just be one way. A motorist has to have rights. They have to be given notice of what the law is in order to follow it.”

Before hammering motorists with $100 and $35 tickets — the higher fine for going 11 mph over the speed limit, the lower fine for going between 6 and 10 mph over the limit — Hairston argued that the Emanuel administration has an obligation to install distinctive signs and plenty of them.

“I didn’t even know I was in a zone. There were no signs at all,” she said. “If I’m driving in an unfamiliar neighborhood, then I’m entitled to notice to be able to comply with the law to be a safe driver in a school zone by reducing my speed. It is not fair for a driver not to have a posted sign allowing them to adjust their speed. That’s why we have speed limits posted — so you know how fast you’re legally allowed to go.”

Newly appointed Transportation Commissioner Rebekah Scheinfeld said the sign resolution was “just introduced” and she was still studying it.


Twitter: @fspielman

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