Minneapolis’ Vision Zero program hopes for speed cameras

The city of Minneapolis’ Vision Zero program, focused on ending road deaths by 2027, hopes the legislature will let them try a three-year pilot program.

MINNEAPOLIS — On what the city has identified as a “high injury risk” street and intersection, cars drive by at a steady pace.

Bump out bollards exist to protect pedestrians at every crosswalk, but some have been flattened to the ground, presumably from being run over by a vehicle.

“Everyone should move around our city safely and that’s our goal,” said Ethan Fawley.

Fawley is the program coordinator for Minneapolis’ Vision Zero action plan, which aims to end road deaths and serious injuries by 2027.

In a recent meeting with Public Works, Vision Zero recently identified 29 miles of Minneapolis streets as “severe injuries.” There, Fawley also highlighted braking speed as a priority, possibly using cameras.

“The City of Minneapolis has been interested in speed cameras for some time because we know they can help make our streets safer for everyone,” he said. “Last year in Minneapolis we saw 23 people killed on our streets in traffic accidents, this is unacceptable.”

Currently, the State of Minnesota does not allow photo surveillance of speeds. Eighteen other states allow such methods.

There are cameras at some intersections used only for traffic management, such as the timing of light changes, but none are dedicated to speed enforcement.

Fawley said he hoped two bills passing through the legislature would allow a pilot in Minneapolis.

“What we’re asking the Legislative Assembly for is a three-year pilot program that will allow us to try it out,” he said.

He said the plan that has been drafted takes into account some concerns raised by the public about privacy and fairness.

“We just take a picture of the license plate, not the driver,” he said. “And then the ticket goes to the owner of the vehicle. But if you weren’t driving, there’s a system where you can get the fine so it doesn’t happen.”

Fawley explained that the $40 fine would not go into the driver’s record, therefore, it would not affect insurance rates.

“People know you’re going to get a ticket if you speed, which changes behavior, which is the goal of any enforcement,” Fawley said. “It’s to reduce the dangerous behavior that is costing the lives of people on our streets.”

The Minneapolis pilot is drafted to focus on school and work/construction zones. If the bills pass, Fawley said it would take about a year before the pilot kicked off in any form.

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Ryan H. Bowman