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By: Chris Sweryda
ID33/MR124 - Base Sign MR124TB - Tab
Intersection warning signs are placed on the approaches to intersections that have photo enforcement. They are used to give advance warning to drivers that the intersection they are approaching is monitored by photo enforcement for red light and speeding offences.
Section 1 – Why Sign?
1A – Purpose of Signs 1B – Requirement to Sign 1C – Signs of Safety
Section 2 – Proper Signing
2A – Sign Tabs 2B - Dual Signing
Section 3 - Removal
3A – Disappearance 3B – City Response 3C – Internal Communication 3D – Police Involvement 3E – Conclusions
Section 4 – Location List
Section 1 – Why Sign?
1A – Purpose of Signs
Many people will argue that red light runners and speeders should not be given warning of camera enforcement. In reality, these signs serve a much larger role than to simply warn lawbreakers. Photo cameras are installed to increase safety at dangerous intersections by modifying driver behavior. A major shortcoming of cameras is that, unlike police officers, they do not stop the offending vehicle and therefore make no safety change at the time of the offence. Due to this key difference, the cameras are ineffectual without the driver being aware of their presence. Safety can only be hoped for in the long term as tickets are issued, creating driver awareness. Through ticketing, local traffic becomes accustomed to the camera’s presence with or without signing leaving tourists and other non-local traffic representing an inflated proportion of violators. Since these drivers do not frequent the camera, a ticket will not adjust their behavior which is where the advantage of signing comes in. Signs will warn unfamiliar drivers of the camera and adjust their behavior before they receive their first ticket. Also, they are posted on all approaches to an enforced intersection even though only one direction is enforced to create safety from all sides. This will reflect the true safety intentions of using photo enforcement as a deterrent. Even local drivers who may not realize they are speeding or simply forget about the camera will adjust their driving when the signs are observed. To adjust their behavior due to a camera, a driver does not simply go from speeding to not speeding or decide not to run a red light. The driver will become more conscious of their speed, possibly even driving below the speed limit and will pay closer attention to the light anticipating and reacting sooner to a signal change thus improving safety at these dangerous locations. These photo enforcement benefits can only be achieved through camera awareness with proper signing and not solely from issuing tickets. Cameras are rotated between housings so that motorists will never know which cameras are active and which aren’t. The purpose of this is to deter violators even without enforcement which can only be effective with awareness brought from signing. The absence of any of these signs would go against the intended safety claims of photo enforcement.
1B – Requirement to Sign
The document known as the ‘Conditions of Authority’ is the provincial document that outlines the obligations of the City of Winnipeg in order to maintain provincial authorization to run the photo enforcement program. With safety in mind, and to be consistent with other jurisdictions, the conditions of authority mandates the use of photo enforcement warning signs. Section 3 of the Conditions of Authority states, “The city shall…erect permanent signs on approaches to intersections monitored by intersection safety cameras.”
1C – Signs of Safety
As proof of the benefits of signing before intersection cameras, the city showcased these signs in a 2005 public awareness campaign referring to them as, “Signs of Safety.” To show the great effects these signs have, the city stated that since signs were installed on the approaches to the intersection of Kenaston and Corydon near Carpathia School, speeding offences were reduced by 84%. Carpathia School principal, Marcia Dveris, did a radio commercial for the Winnipeg Police thanking Winnipeg drivers for the, “…recess on speeding, for seeing the signs and driving more safely.” Another similar commercial featured a construction worker stating, “Where photo
safety enforcement signs have gone up, speeding offences have gone down, by 66%. So thank you for seeing the signs of safety and slowing down.” The City of Winnipeg has certainly reinforced the fact that true safety is achieved with proper signing.
Above screenshot is from the Winnipeg Police website showcasing the billboards displayed throughout Winnipeg in 2005 that portrayed intersection camera warning signs as, “Signs of Safety.”
Section 2 – Proper Signing
2A – Sign Tabs
The ID33/MR124 base sign can be used for two separate applications; the approaches to intersection cameras and on major roads throughout the city. For these two applications, there are two separate sign tabs. Signs on the approaches to cameras have tabs that state “Photo Enforced” to indicate the presence of a photo camera at the next intersection. Other signs contain a tab that states “Photo Enforced Community” which indicates that the city as a whole has the presence of mobile photo enforcement and intersection cameras. Some of the signs on intersection camera approaches improperly use the “Photo Enforced Community” tab. This is improper signing and creates confusion over the meaning of these two tabs.
Most approaches to camera intersections such as Grant EB approaching Charleswood Pkwy (left) consist of signs that properly display the “Photo Enforced” tab. Some locations such as Grant EB approaching Pembina (right) improperly display the “Photo Enforced Community” tab.
2B – Dual Signing
During initial installation in 2003, all 87 divided or one-way approaches to intersection cameras received dual signing. This is the practice of placing a second sign on the median of a divided or the left side of a one-way street across from the sign placed on the right. It can be interpreted by the Conditions of Authority that dual signing is required when possible since it requires “signs” on the approaches to cameras. Due to larger/slower traffic keeping right, the faster moving median lane has an impaired view of the right side sign. Overall, this practice greatly increases sign visibility and reinforces the deterrent safety nature of intersection camera enforcement.
Cavalier SB north of Portage (above) was one of 87 divided or one-way approaches to an intersection enforced with an intersection camera. All 87 received dual signing intersection camera warning signs to act as a deterrent and increase safety.
Section 3 – Removal
3A – Disappearance
During the summer of 2009, 79 out of 87 left side signs on divided or one-way streets disappeared. This was too great a number simply to be a theft or a lack of maintenance issue. There appeared to be a conscious effort by some party to remove these signs and reduce driver awareness at these intersections.
Google street-view from early 2009 (left) shows a left side camera warning sign on Portage EB approaching Cavalier. Picture from 2011 (right) shows the sign pole remaining to support another sign but the camera warning sign has been removed.
Google street-view from early 2009 (left) shows a left side camera warning sign on a median light standard on Corydon EB approaching Kenaston. Picture from 2011 (right) shows the light standard still holding sign brackets after the sign had been removed.
3B – City Response
When the story hit the media in the early spring of 2011, initial statements by the city in the Winnipeg Sun were that the left side signs “…are not being re-installed or maintained because the signs in the median are not considered essential.” It seemed peculiar that 79 out of 87 or 91% of median signs would disappear over the course of one summer due to a lack of maintenance. Signs are known to last in the neighborhood of 15-20 years. It would be impossible to have to maintain 91% of road signs on an annual basis. Sign removal was deliberate.
3C – Internal Communication
In early 2011, a request was made under the Freedom of Information and Privacy Act for all documents related to the sign removal. When copies of the e-mails were supplied, all early communication was blanked out on the basis that it was “Non-responsive.” Only the last paragraph of the last e-mail was supplied which stated that the median signs would not be installed “in an effort to eliminate clutter.” Contrary to the city’s implications of just not maintaining these signs, the last sentence of this e-mail stated, “We will endeavor over the next few months to clean up centre median signs at existing locations.” This last line stated it all; signs were deliberately removed and did not disappear from disrepair. Public Works also appears only to be cleaning up ‘median clutter’ when it applies to camera warning signs. Centre medians in Winnipeg have 1000’s of signs placed on them and yet only the warning signs before cameras, which represent a very minuscule number of the signs, were removed during this cleanup effort. Other remaining median signs are often as unimportant as city route markers which cause no safety gains by their presence. Not only were other signs not removed, but contrary to this clean-up effort, more median signs have been added and continue to appear around the city. Clean-up does not appear to be the motive for this removal.
Google street-view from early 2009 (left) shows unnecessary RB62 not a truck route sign on the right side only on School Road NB at north side of Portage. Between 2009 and summer 2011 (right) a second sign was added to the median for only two lanes of traffic which is adding to “median clutter.”
3D – Police Involvement
On many occasions, the Winnipeg Police Service (WPS) has been contacted in regards to safety issues regarding signs. In most cases this contact consisted of pleas for the police’s “Just Slow Down” safety campaign to request more or improved speed limit signing. In all cases, the WPS have claimed that signing is strictly a Public Works issue. One direct response to a request to have signs fixed was, “Traffic Services City of Winnipeg is responsible for signage.” Even the WPS website states, “The City of Winnipeg Public Works Department, Transportation Division is responsible for posting signage.” The message from the WPS is clear. They do not involve themselves with signing issues even when related to safety nor will they pass on requests to Public Works on behalf of citizens. From this message, the last party that would be expected to have involvement in the removal of these median warning signs would be WPS. In reality, the only two recipients of the final e-mail from the superintendent of Public Works stating that the signs will be removed, were WPS Photo Enforcement officers. Why are two officers of the WPS Photo Enforcement Division being contacted personally in regards to median sign removal if they have no involvement with signage?
3E – Conclusions
1-If safety is truly the goal of intersection cameras, than signage should be the most important means of reinforcing these cameras as a deterrent. 2-A flashing photo enforcement camera may make money for the city, but does nothing to improve the safety of the road. 3-Such effective signs of safety should not have been removed and goes against any claims by the city to be using photo enforcement as a safety tool. 4-The removal of such signs goes against the provincial conditions of authority for the program which stated that these signs were, “permanent.” 5-The TIRF report published for the City of Winnipeg recommended improving signage at camera locations, but yet the City of Winnipeg is removing signing. 6-Since median clean-up is not the motive, there appears to be a connection between photo enforcement revenue and median sign removal even though it has been denied.
Section 4 – Location List
This list below gives all locations of cameras with one or more divided/one way approaches. Bold text indicates the enforced direction. All locations originally had dual signing and current status indicates if the left sign is still present or has been removed. Camera Location
Archibald SB at Elizabeth Bishop Grandin WB at River Century NB at Silver
Archibald NB Archibald SB Bishop Grandin EB Bishop Grandin WB Century NB Century SB Silver EB Silver WB Disraeli NB Disraeli SB Donald SB Broadway EB Broadway WB Dunkirk NB Dunkirk SB St. Mary’s NB St. Mary’s SB Fermor EB Fermor WB Charleswood Pkwy SB Grant EB Grant WB Grant EB Grant WB Henderson Hwy NB Henderson Hwy SB Henderson Hwy NB Henderson Hwy SB Inkster EB Inkster WB Isabel SB Kenaston NB Kenaston SB Corydon EB Corydon WB Keewatin NB Keewatin SB Lagimodiere NB Lagimodiere SB Leila EB Leila WB Main NB Main SB Inkster EB
Divided Divided Divided Divided Divided Divided Divided Divided Divided Divided One-Way Divided Divided Divided Divided Divided Divided Divided Divided Divided Divided Divided Divided Divided Divided Divided Divided Divided Divided Divided Divided Divided Divided Divided Divided Divided Divided Divided Divided Divided Divided Divided Divided Divided
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Disraeli Freeway NB at Lily Donald SB at Broadway
Dunkirk NB at St. Vital Road Fermor WB at St. Mary’s Road
Grant EB at Charleswood Pkwy
Grant WB at Wilton Henderson Hwy SB at Kimberly Henderson Hwy NB at Gilmore Inkster WB at Airlies Isabel NB at William Kenaston SB at Corydon
Keewatin NB at Selkirk Lagimodiere SB at Grassie Leila WB at Sinclair Main NB at Inkster
Main SB at Redwood Main NB at Logan McPhillips SB at Jefferson
McPhillips SB at Redwood Moray NB at Lodge Notre Dame WB at Sherbrook Panet SB at Munroe Pembina Hwy NB at Grant
Pembina Hwy NB at Dalhousie N. Leg
Portage EB at Cavalier
Portage EB at Dominion Portage WB at Mount Royal Provencher EB at Alneau Regent WB at Owen Sherbrook NB at Broadway St. Anne’s NB at Meadowood St. James SB at Ness St. Mary’s NB at Warde
York EB at Fort
Main NB Main SB Main NB Main SB McPhillips NB McPhillips SB Jefferson EB McPhillips NB McPhillips SB Moray NB Moray SB Sherbrook NB Notre Dame WB Panet NB Panet SB Pembina NB Pembina SB Grant EB Pembina NB Pembina SB Dalhousie EB Dalhousie WB Cavalier SB Portage EB Portage WB Portage EB Portage WB Portage WB Portage EB Provencher EB Provencher WB Regent EB Regent WB Sherbrook NB St. Anne’s NB St. Anne’s SB Ness EB St. Mary’s NB St. Mary’s SB Warde EB Van Hull Way WB Fort NB York EB
Divided Divided Divided Divided Divided Divided Divided Divided Divided Divided Divided One-Way One-Way Divided Divided Divided Divided Divided Divided Divided Divided Divided Divided Divided Divided Divided Divided Divided Divided Divided Divided Divided Divided One-Way Divided Divided Divided Divided Divided Divided Divided One-Way One-Way
Removed Removed Removed Removed Removed Removed Removed Removed Removed Removed Removed Present Present Present Present Removed Removed Removed Removed Removed Removed Removed Present Removed Removed Removed Removed Removed Removed Removed Removed Removed Removed Removed Removed Removed Removed Removed Removed Removed Removed Present Present
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