Chicago Speed Traps Near Quiet Parks, Not On The Dan Ryan
It was a beautiful, warm May 27th night, perfect to be a spectator at the over-60-year-old 16-inch softball league under the lights at the community park in northwest suburban Elk Grove Village.
Keith Dickens, 67, one of this writer’s softball buddies—a future Hall-of-Fame player who once starred on “Vintage Risk”—got three hits and his team won big.
After the game, two other Vintage Risk old timers, John Clausen, 77, and Dean Karouzos, 74, masked-up and joined me at the nearby Coach’s Corner saloon for pizza and few libations to celebrate the victory.
Passing through a “Park Safety Zone” near Merrimac Park at 6226 W. Irving Park Rd. at 9:54 p.m. on the way back to Chicago’s Old Town neighborhood, this senior-citizen driver was corralled by Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s “Automated Speed Enforcement” network.
On July 18th, a $35 speeding ticket for going a mere six miles over the 30-miles-per-hour limit arrived in the mail. The ticket, supported by three, dark and out-of- focus speed camera photos, issued the following terse announcement:
“These recorded images are evidence of a violation of a speed restriction. The vehicle identified above bears a licenses plate registered or leased in your name. You must pay or contest by August 15, 2021.”
An automated-money grab?
In the first two months of Mayor Lightfoot’s automated-money grab, some 162 speed cameras, including 69 in “safety zones” within an eighth of a mile of a Chicago school or park, issued 322,447 of the $35 tickets, which will bring in $11.3 million to city coffers if the violators pay all the fines, reported the Chicago Tribune.
That’s nearly a whopping 17-fold increase over tickets issued in those same months in 2019, when the city was issuing $35 citations for going exactly 10 mph over the limit, and 19,480 such tickets were issued. Drivers caught on camera at higher speeds receive $100 tickets.
If the mayor keeps issuing speed camera tickets at the same rate, up to 1.6 million citations will be issued in 2021, pumping $56.4 million into city coffers. That dough will fill a nice hole in the city’s $733 million budget shortfall.
On the positive side, the money may eventually benefit thousands of tax-weary Chicago homeowners who expect to be slapped with huge real estate tax increases next summer.
Mayor Rahm Emanual created the speed camera program in 2013, after the Illinois Legislature gave him power to install up to 300 of them. However, Emanual ordered the city to set the cameras to cite cars speeding exactly at 10 mph over the limit—not six miles.
Senior citizens on a fixed income and young people who are scratching to pay apartment rents say the mayor is trying to balance her budget on the backs of struggling Chicagoans.
Dan Ryan Speedway?
While the city of Chicago is cracking down on law-abiding drivers who happen to go six miles over the speed limit trying to get home from work or wheeling to a family picnic, apparently the Illinois State Police is ignoring drivers on the Dan Ryan and Eisenhower expressways who exceed the 55-mph speed limit by more than 50 mph.
Based on the $35 fine for speeding six miles over the limit, 50 mph over the limit should net these speeders a fine of $300—not to mention the fines for reckless driving.
While returning from out of town this spring around 8 p.m., this writer witnessed speeding on the Dan Ryan resembling the Indianapolis 500 Road Race. Dozens of souped-up “muscle cars” with tinted windows were drag racing by at 80 to 100-plus miles per hour, while normal drivers barely were doing 50 mph and nervously clutching their steering wheels with white knuckles.
Apparently, the Illinois State Police is so under manned they can’t deal with the rogue gang-banger speeders. Assuming there are a cluster of five gang-banger cars each occupied by four gang members speeding at 100 mph, it would take a posse of five police cars occupied by two officers each—that’s 10 cops—to pull over and stop the reckless offenders.
Conclusion: There simply is no speed limit on Chicago’s expressways because they are ruled by armed gang bangers and the Illinois State Police is afraid to confront them because they deal in hot lead.
Fact: There have been 159 expressway shootings in the first eight months of 2021, more than double the same period in 2019.
Finally, the state of Illinois recently allocated $12.5 million for installation of 300 high-resolution speed cameras on expressways across Chicago and Cook County to provide “crystal clear” license-plate photos. The camera installation started in late August.
Two problems with this unfocused plan. The $12.5 million budget is a drop in the bucket to stop rampant speeding and gun play. And, most of the speeding shooters are driving stolen cars, so what crimes are we solving?
Apparently, there’s a new sheriff in town: the gangs.