The cameras that are supposed to snap your car's photo and send you a ticket if you run a red light in San Francisco haven't been functional for months, as the former, deteriorating camera system was shut off ahead of a planned replacement.
As KCBS reports, the entire network of 20 intersections where the cameras operate was shut off by the SFMTA back in January. Plans have been in the works for several years to replace the antiquated Kodak machines that monitored the intersections, but they were increasingly shutting down in the rain and requiring extensive repairs — not to mention the city needed to overhaul the entire network with a more modern, digital camera system. A study to complete that process that also looked at which intersections are now most prone to collisions was completed in November 2018, and the new system is set to start being installed soon.
The new cameras, the first of which will start operation at Fourth and Harrison later this month, won't all be operational until summer, and there won't be 20 intersections covered anymore.
As the Chronicle's Phil Matier explains, the cameras will only be returning to the most dangerous intersections. But if there are fewer of them, isn't there a danger that the city's former problem with red-light-related collisions will return?
The red-light cameras first began appearing on SF's streets in 1996. At its peak around 2013, the program had cameras in 47 cameras in 26 intersections around the city. That wold later be cut back to 20 intersections.
Per the Chron, there were over 19,000 citations issued via the red-light cameras in 2012, and that number shrank by more than half over four years, down to 7,663 in 2016. In 2018, when many of the cameras were damaged and shut down, only 1,400 tickets were issued citywide, or about four per day.
San Francisco Bicycle Coalition Executive Director Brian Wiedenmeier tells the Chron, "During a time when San Francisco is experiencing a troubling uptick in fatal collisions involving people walking and biking, these cameras cannot be replaced soon enough.”