Greater City Providence

The Boston Globe: Cameras? Full speed ahead

Hopkins Middle School on Charles Street – Image from Google Street View

Alas, after WPRI-TV revealed how many violations the cameras were identifying, an outcry ensued. “Political terrorism,” one angry motorist complained to the Globe’s Dugan Arnett. Amid a throng of people contesting the tickets at municipal court, one man declared, “We should start a revolution.” It’s as if heartless bureaucrats were preying on innocent motorists out of pure sadism.

By design, cameras can only nab vehicles traveling 11 or more miles per hour above the limit. Yet the expectation that people should almost follow traffic laws — almost! — is just too much to bear.

Others have argued that the cameras, which take down license plate numbers and send $95 tickets to the registered owner, may not punish the driver responsible for a violation. The solution is easy: Don’t lend your car to people who speed through school zones, any more than you’d let a friend park in front of a fire hydrant.

“Political Terrorism!?” So if we slow down our cars in school zones (to 11 mph over the limit) the terrorists win? Is this real life?

Side note: I highly suggest following the author of this article, Dante Ramos on Twitter. Excellent commentary on urbanism.

Jef Nickerson

Jef is Greater City Providence's co-founder, editor, and publisher. He grew up on Cape Cod and lived in Boston; Portland, Maine; and New York before settling in Providence. In addition to urbanism, Jef is interested in art, design, and ice cream. Please feel free to contact Jef if you have any question or comments about Greater City Providence.


  • I have some history with this type of poorly design police state tactic. They tried this in the Phoenix area and ultimately they shut them all down because they created additional traffic, eliminated the ability for the accused to question a police officer that cited them, and general constitutional concerns and questions of legality.

    Nobody should be mailed a ticket. A ticket should be personally handed to an offender. This whole concept of camera generated moving violations is absurd. It starts with school zones, and it will expand to anything that can generate revenue. I applaud the citizens that went out to fight against this. Another bonehead idea from an insolvent state (and city).

  • I disagree with GGG with his anti-enforcement attitude towards speeders. I feel that those opposing speed cameras just want to be free to speed and not be held accountable. There is no reason not to mail a ticket any more than being mailed a bill or a license renewal form. The police have to verify the rickets so there is human oversight. If you don’t want to pay the fines, just don’t speed 11 mph or more over the speed limit. That motorists feel entitled to do this in school zones shows another thing wrong with the entitlement feelings of those enthralled by the auto culture.
    And remember that highway deaths are sharply rising in RI and in the US. In Rhode Island deaths went up from 51 in 2016 to 84 in 2017 of which 21 were pedestrians who are so much at risk from speeding and dangerous driving. Go cameras!

  • “Police state tactic.”

    What a joke. That’s an argument that was lost two decades ago. There are traffic cameras all over our roads and highways.

    Plus there are signs posted that clearly warn drivers that cameras are in use. Don’t like cameras? Seek an alternate route – and for god’s sake, take responsibility and slow the eff down.

  • I can see both sides of the argument, but you know what? They put those cameras in some really dumb places. Over on Allen’s Ave near the port there is a set of cameras. The lights are spaced too close together, and even if you are going the speed limit you can get caught between the lights and issued a ticket. So tell me how that makes sense, and that it’s not the City of Providence trying to capitalize on a shitty intersection design?

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