Red Hill traffic

Hamilton Spectator file photo
Police look to boost speed enforcement on the Red Hill and Lincoln Alexander parkways … on the cheap.

Hamilton police are primed to keep paying special attention to excessive speeding on the Red Hill and Lincoln Alexander parkways, but it’s likely going to be done irregularly and on the cheap.

Acting police Chief Ken Weatherill wants the police board to approve using the so-called POP model for keeping a lid on the dangerous driving flagged by both a police and a consultant’s report.

POP stands for Problem Oriented Policing. In this case, it entails diverting existing officers from other duties to periodically provide bolstered enforcement on the problematic roads.

Police board chair Lloyd Ferguson says he fully expects the board to endorse Weatherill’s low-cost recommendation at Thursday’s meeting.

The other options before the board are creating a dedicated six officer unit at an annual cost of $482,520, or a three officer unit for $241,260 a year.

POP is a particularly sweet solution because it means no new staff needs to be hired.

“I won’t deny that I had some influence over that, and some other members of the board,” Ferguson said in an interview.

“We weren’t on for taking the budget up.”

The Ancaster councillor is especially enthused by the POP project because it dovetails with the city’s installation of monitoring cameras on the parkways, which can be programmed to track speeding vehicles.

If police are allowed to hook up to the system, they’ll be able to measure speeds. Ferguson says when they see speeds trending up, they can send POP back to the Linc and RHVP for operational crackdowns.

“Here we’ve found a solution to a problem with no extra cost just by using some new technology.”

Certainly the cameras will give police timely information for ramped up patrolling. But even without it, POP appears to already have shown some intervention muscle.

The project was first deployed on both roadways from Dec. 14 to Feb. 5 after the police board raised concerns about a consultant’s safety report to city council, which claimed about 500 vehicles per day travel faster than 140 km/h on the Red Hill. The RHVP and Linc have posted speed limits of 90 km/h.

Using stealth cars, marked cruisers, and photo radar, police found plenty of speeding if not exactly the greased lightning velocities recorded by the consultants.

During the 54-day POP blitz, they issued 970 tickets, including 851 for speeding, 43 for expired licenses, 23 for insurance infractions, 19 for distracted driving, and 10 for seatbelt violations.

Additionally, while tracking for speeds between Jan. 22 and Feb. 5, they stopped 130 drivers doing 120 km/h or more.

Given traffic congestion on the parkways, Ferguson was always dubious about the consultant’s 140 km/h claim. To his mind, the police report underlines the value of questioning received information.

“I drive that Linc often and at rush hour you can’t drive at 140 km because … it’s so congested.”

Ferguson remains troubled that on the strength of the consultant’s report, council approved spending $815,000 on safety improvements such a new markings and signage. He needn’t be. The report raised several safety issues other than dangerous driving that need to be addressed.

That said, Weatherill’s report makes it perfectly clear that extreme speeding is a daily event on those roads. A 130 drivers ticketed for going 30 km/h over the speed limit during a two-week period suggests that for some reckless driving is routine behaviour. That’s a self-centred balloon that’s crying out to be popped.

Source: The Hamilton Spectator