To help reduce traffic safety issues and control speeding in the Town of Bradford West Gwillimbury, council announced that a speeding camera will be installed on Simcoe Road this fall.
With issues of speeding on Simcoe Road, council has previously tried other measures to address it but saw minimal improvement.
“We know from the data and the residents that Simcoe Road has a speeding problem,” said Ward 2 Coun. Jonathan Scott. “It is an older street that has become a main arterial route over the past decade. We’ve installed speed decals, additional signage and extended the community safety zone in the past to try to address the issue."
Given the lack of success with deterring speeders, council saw this as an opportunity to try something new by implementing the speeding camera.
“Now we’re very pleased to say that we will be able to make a significant intervention this fall,” said Scott. “Town staff have confirmed that the LIDAR, solar-powered speed camera council authorized for purchase in June 2022 will be delivered by October, and will be installed on Simcoe Road once it arrives.”
Speeding cameras aren't new to Bradford, South Simcoe Police took on a pilot program by utilizing traffic cameras as a warning tool in multiple locations.
"It's an additional tool to gather information," said South Simcoe Police Staff Sgt. Dave Phillips. "It's been very successful—the first three streets we did we saw anywhere between a 50 and 30 per cent reduction in speed. When you look at the return on investment with the cost, the amount of effort that goes into getting those types of reductions, it's pretty impressive. I'm not sure what it would take me to dedicate the amount of police resources to get a similar result. It's not the silver bullet, but it gives us another tool to help us change the conversation around speeding in neighbourhoods."
Recently Phillips issued 52 warning letters for speeding with 51 going within a kilometre of the speed cameras.
"We don't know who's speeding in the neighbourhood but the traffic cameras allow us to push the data and find the analytics," he said. "People in our own community are speeding in our communities and that's a problem. Another thing is, maybe dealing with a police officer on the side of the road and getting a ticket doesn't generate the same experience as sitting down at the dinner table and talking about speeding on the street. Maybe someone who receives the letter is equally or more apt to slow down in the future. Not too many people complain about getting a warning, a speeding ticket can be adversarial in nature."
With the cameras allowing for fewer officers to be used towards speeding enforcement, more information to be collected, and proven results, it's led the town to install the camera on Simcoe Road.
"Our experience has been good enough that the town is buying a better quality camera that's capable of doing more, that's our proof of concept of this more affordable system," said Phillips. "It certainly warrants an investment in this technology. It gives us more opportunities and changes the way we do business."
Once the camera is installed on Simcoe Road, it will initially be used to send warnings to speeders and at the beginning of 2023, it will begin issuing fines.
“For the rest of 2022, the camera will operate under the town’s existing system where speeders are issued a warning letter,” Scott explained. “In winter 2023, once the town’s Administrative Monetary Penalty system is up and running, we anticipate the camera will be able to join the province’s newly permitted Automated Speed Enforcement program; in other words, we expect the camera will be able to issue speeding tickets."
The decision to implement the new speeding camera on Simcoe Road was an obvious one for council given its location in a high-density area of Bradford.
“Simcoe Road is an ideal first site for such a program as provincial regulations require it to operate in a school zone; there are two on Simcoe Road,” said Scott. “It is also a high traffic area for cars (over 7000) and pedestrians (over 200), with four lanes and is an urban road that runs through the heart of our town.”
The camera is mobile and will cost $27,000.