Say Cheese, Speeders!


Pam DeLissio & EFCC’s Traffic Committee propose speed cameras on Henry from Allegheny to Andorra.   

It’s a predictable and indisputable fact: speed kills. The faster a vehicle is moving when it crashes, the more severe the consequences. Our own Henry Avenue is a danger zone: since 2011, there’ve been more than 350 traffic crashes, and at least 7 fatalities. Although speed hasn’t necessarily been a cause in every instance, it’s always a significant factor.

At EFCC‘s general meeting this month, Vision Zero Philadelphia presented an overview of the city’s three-year action plan for reducing these “preventable and unacceptable” tragedies. Proposed measures include designated bike lanes, community education, road redesign, and better traffic enforcement.

Along these lines, EFCC’s traffic committee has asked State Representative Pam DeLissio‘s help getting amendments for Henry Avenue added to legislation proposed last year by State Rep John Taylor for an automated speed enforcement pilot program on 9 miles of Roosevelt Boulevard from 9th Street downtown to the Bucks County line.

“My argument has been that the 12 lanes of the Boulevard are unique in Pennsylvania, and the four lane arterial that is Henry Avenue is more common so the idea of a pilot, maybe this could be introduced into that,” Pam told EFCC’s audience. While Rep Taylor has no objections to her ideas, he’d prefer not to rock the boat while the bill is still pending. So far, her amendment has been drafted, but not yet filed.

According to EFCC traffic chair John Gillespie, their plan would place three or four cameras between Allegheny Avenue and Port Royal in Andorra. “You’d have to be going at least 11 miles over the speed limit (generally 35 mph) to get ticketed,” he said. Fines would be set by ordinances (likely $150), and administered by the Philadelphia Parking Authority (who btw is reportedly under Federal investigation after a scathing audit last year).

“I have no idea whether it’s going to happen, it’s just out there, ” John added. EFCC’s traffic committee will be meeting privately at John’s home this Thursday to discuss the speed cameras further, and possibly vote on the matter (meetings are not open to the public).

Pam stressed that she works at the behest of her constituents, although we could find no list of current EFCC traffic committee members, nor even a head count for how many neighbors are pulling strings behind the scenes for speed cams that’ll affect three communities (not to mention the 23,000+ commuters who use Henry Avenue daily).

While not everyone is convinced speed cams work, we’re all in favor of safer roads and accept that some trial-and-error may be necessary as we strive towards Vision Zero’s goal to eliminate all traffic-related deaths & severe injuries by 2030. Please leave your comments below or email us to submit your editorial for consideration (links to data always appreciated).

Reading list:

Read Vision Zero Philadelphia’s three year action plan.
View Vision Zero’s “High Injury Network” map of Phila’s most dangerous corridors.
Review a PhillyVoice editorial claiming speed camera data is based on “junk science.” <shrug>
Whoops, speed camera screw-ups in Baltimore
WHYY editorial debunking National Motorists Association‘s dependence on “alternative facts”
Slides and summary of additional safety improvements PennDOT has planned for Henry Avenue.

Transcript below from EFCC’s general meeting Feb 12, 2018:

PAM DELISSIO: Please remember I work at the behest of constituents, I don’t often just decide to go off and do something for a community without checking with that community so I was aware that Representative John Taylor is trying to get legislation through that has to do with speed cameras for Roosevelt Boulevard.

I know that Henry Avenue has been a significant topic of discussion since our own highway improvement safety program that’s being developed over the last several years. And I have to go back to see how the conversation started but I have offered to try to amend his legislation to include Henry Avenue as part of the pilot if the community so desires. Those amendments have been drafted, they have not yet been filed.

And I have talked to Rep. Taylor several times and John & I went to Vision Zero’s event two weeks ago downtown. So Representative Taylor doesn’t object to the amendments but he doesn’t want to do anything that trashes his own legislation to get this through for Roosevelt Boulevard as a pilot.

You know, my argument has been that 12 lanes of the Boulevard are unique in Pennsylvania, and the four lane arterial that is Henry Avenue is more common so the idea of a pilot, maybe this could be included in it. The East Falls Traffic Committee will be looking into that issue this Thursday.

JOHN GILLESPIE (EF Traffic Committee chair): Can I just say something here? The way this would work, there have been various news stories (unintelligible) extrapolate based on what they’re thinking about doing for Roosevelt. It would put three or four cameras between Allegheny Avenue and Port Royal up in Andorra. The trigger would be 11 miles over the speed limit on Henry Avenue which is generally 35 miles per hour. You’d have to be going at least 11 miles over that to get ticketed. And the fines would be set by ordinances, the thing would be administered by the Philadelphia Parking Authority. I have no idea whether it’s going to happen, it’s just out there. We do have a meeting with the traffic committee on Thursday to discuss this and hopefully take a vote on it.

BILL EPSTEIN (EFCC president): Where’s that meeting going to happen?

JOHN: My house. So that’s, along with the other stuff that’s happening on Henry Avenue along with PennDOT’s plans to make it safer, which I think most people are aware of.


  1. Maybe if there were 85th percentile speed limits, there would be no speeding? These asinine speed limits are creating “speeders” and making our roads unsafe. The cams you want also may lead to more crashes and safe drivers cited. There have also been a MASSIVE NUMBER of errors with speed cameras. It is obvious that the other side was not told in this story, which is sad. It openly touted the pro-cam side too. A news story is supposed to be balanced.

    I love the open government of meeting in homes and nobody can go!

    Check out the National Motorists Association for real facts on this issue.

    • Hey Mr. Reading Comprehension — I never said I wanted the speed cams. I said I wanted safer roads and accept that some trial & error may be necessary. You’ll find plenty of opposing viewpoints if you click the links (especially the one for the PhillyVoice article that literally includes the words “junk science” in the description above). Seems to me your rabid disdain for speed cameras may be blinding your ability to objectively assess what you’re reading. Take a breath. Relax. I agree that private meetings on public issues are kinda messed up. Have a nice day. PS Sorry about all your other comments I deleted, but we’ve no use for repetition or rudeness here.

  2. The “reading list” is missing the most important one.
    Go to www (dot) motorists (dot) org Read all the items under speed limits and speed cameras to understand the science of setting the safest 85th percentile speed limits and the reasons why speed cameras are about money, not safety. For maximum safety you measure the speeds of free flowing traffic under good conditions, find the speed that the slowest 85% of the cars are at or under, and round it to the nearest 5 mph interval for the speed limit that tends to produce the fewest crashes. Example: On a main urban collector or arterial street – if 85% of the cars are at or under 38 to 42 mph, the safest limit to post is 40 mph – NOT 35 or 30 or 25. You would find local radar used in such a location ONLY if the limit were improperly and less-safely set at 30 or 25 to arbitrarily define enough safe drivers to make enforcement of that speed trap profitable. People who support safety and fairness, and oppose enforcement for profits, should call and write their state Representatives and Senators to say NO to local radar.

    James C. Walker, National Motorists Association

    • Thanks — actually the link above for Baltimore speed camera screw ups is affiliated with the National Motorist Association (which by the way is a for-profit non-stock corporation lobbyist & special interest group, for those of us keeping score). A quick google produces many sources accusing the organization of using “alternative facts” in their efforts to undermine any legislation with even the whiff of “anti-car” bias. The 85th percentile stuff, for instance, was apparently based on research from 1964 for freeway-type traffic, that was never intended for city streets with a mix of cars, pedestrians, cyclists, etc. (shrug)

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