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Proposed city pilot program would place cameras on buses to catch parking violators

New ordinance would use bus cameras to enforce traffic laws
New ordinance would use bus cameras to enforce traffic laws 00:25

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Mayor Lori Lightfoot wants to use cameras on Chicago Transit Authority buses to enforce traffic laws.

After the City Council meeting Wednesday, the mayor touted the new Smart Streets Pilots Ordinance, which would use CTA bus cameras to identify and ticket cars in bike lanes, bus lanes, bus stops, and crosswalks.

"As traffic fatalities have risen at an alarming rate both locally and nationally in recent years, it is critically important that Chicago use every tool available to improve safety for all road users," Lightfoot said in a news release. "That's why we are proud to introduce an ordinance that will enable two pilots downtown to create safer streets and a better transit experience. By testing a small-scale pilot in 2023, the City will be better able to evaluate how these initiatives will work best when implemented on a citywide scale."

The news release noted that traffic fatalities are way up in Chicago and other major cities since the COVID-19 pandemic began. In 2021, more than 170 people were killed in traffic crashes in Chicago – up 50 percent from two years earlier, the Mayor's office said.

Programs similar to the proposed new safety ordinance are already in effect in cities such as New York and Seattle, and are being planned in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.

The ordinance would create two two-year pilot programs in an area bounded by Lake Michigan on the east, Ashland Avenue on the west, North Avenue on the north, and Roosevelt Road on the south.

The Smart Streets Pilot would enable the city to ticket car owners by mail for parking in bike lanes, crosswalks, bus lanes, bus stops, and no parking zones – so as to prevent dangerous situations such as bicyclists being forced to ride in the middle of traffic.

The pilot would also promote a more reliable bus service making it easier to ticket drivers who park in bus stops, the Mayor's office said.

Cameras to catch parking violators will be fixed on the front of city or CTA vehicles, or on poles, the Mayor's office said.

A second pilot – the Smart Loading Zone Pilot – would use license plate reading technology to issue penalties for parking violations commercial loading zones. The goal is to prevent double parking that puts drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians in unsafe positions, the Mayor's office said.

The mayor was joined by aldermen Daniel La Spata (1st), Brian Hopkins (2nd), Andre Vasquez (40th), Brendan Reilly (42nd), Matt Martin (47th) in introducing the ordinance.

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