Winnipeg is hiding school zone signs

so it can raise more cash

with speeding tickets: activist


Winnipeg intentionally removes warning signs from school zones so it can write more speeding tickets


John Woods for National Post

Winnipeg intentionally removes warning signs from school zones so it can write more speeding tickets, claims one of Canada’s most militant traffic crusaders.

“It pains me to see people pay hundreds and hundreds of dollars in tickets when they’re in violation of nothing. It is the most egregious thing I’ve ever seen and I decided to stop it,” said Todd Dube, a local businessman who founded Wise Up Winnipeg with Larry Stefanuik, a disillusioned former traffic cop.

The group’s latest campaign warns of a possible “ticket bonanza” in unsigned school zones.

Courtesy Todd Dube

Over two years, Wise Up Winnipeg researchers examined the city’s school zones and, in an 83-page report, noted 206 missing school zone signs — as well as 32 warning signs on streets that have no schools.

The worst offender was Henderson Highway, a road with a 60 kilometres an hour limit next to an elementary school that did not carry a single school zone sign on its southern side.

Of course, it is par for the course in the city that Wise Up Winnipeg says intentionally traps speeders with inadequate signs in school zones and on the approaches to photo-radar cameras.

“I won’t even say it’s neglect. I’m saying we have a willful mandate to maximize violations, including the removing of signs,” Mr. Dube. said

Winnipeg has been up front about requiring its police to meet an annual “target” for traffic tickets.

In 2011, when police had to cut traffic enforcement to tackle a surging gang war, Keith McCaskill, the city’s police chief, told the finance committee there would be a $1.4-million “shortfall” in traffic-ticket revenue. Within three months, officers were being told to boost their ticket counts.

“There certainly is pressure being placed on the police from certain quarters of civic government to come back with certain expectations in terms of funding,” said Mike Sutherland, president of the Winnipeg Police Association.



“Tickets should be handed out where warranted, it shouldn’t be based on revenue.”

Meanwhile, Wise Up Winnipeg claims the city’s photo-radar cameras may be malfunctioning.

This year, it teamed up with the Canadian Taxpayer’s Federation to sue over one camera, arguing its Doppler radar had become scrambled by metal signs and light poles, causing it to unfairly ticket hundreds of motorists.

And the ranks of Wise Up Winnipeg supporters are only swelling.

For the province to let this continue is unconscionable

John Woods for National Post

“People are getting $200 to $400 tickets and points on their licence — and they’re angry, and there’s hordes of them,” Mr. Dube said.

The group does not accept donations, but supporters are encouraged to join the “Yellow Army.” They stake out poorly signed speed-traps and warn approaching motorists with signs reading “$LOW DOWN, PHOTO ENFORCEMENT AHEAD.”

In some cases, the city has remounted a missing sign only hours after a Wise Up Winnipeg protest.

The group’s founding cause was a campaign against short amber lights.

At some 80 km/h intersections, amber lights in Winnipeg last for only four seconds, while similar intersections in other cities were closer to six seconds. “Virtually every other jurisdiction in Canada proportionally increases the amber time with the speed limit to address the longer stopping time needed at higher speeds,” said Jon Gerrard, the Manitoba Liberal leader, in a May statement backing the group.

“For the province to let this continue is unconscionable.”

Wise Up Winnipeg says the short ambers are simply a way to increase red-light offences.

“The ‘red-light running epidemic’ is more like a ‘red herring’ to justify the program’s operations and obscene profits,” says the group’s website.

In 2010, Mr. Dube flew Barry Loudermilk, renowned red-light camera activist, to Winnipeg. The Georgia state lawmaker had successfully passed a bill requiring jurisdictions to increase amber light times by one second if they wanted to install a red-light camera.

Instantly, the state’s red-light-running violations dropped by 80%.

What’s more, plenty of U.S. studies have noticed a spike in intersection collisions after a red-light camera is installed — panicked drivers slam on the brakes or stamp on the accelerator at the first hint of yellow. Researchers call it the “dilemma zone.”

People are getting $200 to $400 tickets and points on their licence — and they’re angry, and there’s hordes of them

“[Drivers are] nervous all over the city and you have this unnecessary danger,” Mr. Dube said.

Proper signs and safe amber lights are not “unreasonable demands,” Mr. Sutherland said.

“Once most citizens realize that they are entering a speed reduction zone, they’ll comply. But you have to at least give them the opportunity to be aware of that.”


National Post


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