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Panhandle red-light camera infuriates drivers

People get pissed when a cop gives them a ticket, and with good reason. It’s money out of their pocket, and what if that jerk hadn’t been there?

What’s worse, though, is when the cop handing out the ticket is a camera, catching you making an illegal turn at one of San Francisco’s most dangerous and poorly-managed intersections.

This camera, along with a special traffic light for bicycles, was installed by The City last year to increase safety for pedestrians and bicyclists at the notoriously dodgy Fell and Masonic corner. The problem is, the intersection is dangerously confusing, now featuring four different traffic lights.

Driver Joey Clemente, one of about 500 each month who get ticketed at that location, told KGO:

“I don’t think it’s about safety, I think it’s about a racket.  I think it’s about money.”

He may have a point when people are getting hit with $420 tickets for making a left turn.

And when he and an MTA clerk viewed the video of his violation later, even the clerk was confused.

The San Francisco bike organization SFBike sees it differently. On their site, they complain that motorists are endangering bicyclists when they make these left turns, calling on cops to step up their enforcement measures.

Despite all the grumbling, though, it appears the MTA may have found a solution.  They plan to install a sign ahead of the intersection that will clearly inform drivers that a left turn without a directional signal isn’t legal there.

A spokesman for the MTA added:

“This is not a revenue measure.  This is to make sure that the streets are as safe as possible.”

Still, nobody likes a ticket, and no matter how much the city claims it’s not about the money, pissed-off drivers will always look for somebody to blame.

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  1. If you think these cameras are a scam, put in for revenue not for safety, here’s something you can do. Phone your state senator, your assemblymember, and the governor, and ask them to:
    1. Support AB 2128, which will cut the fine for rolling rights in half and lengthen the yellows for left turns,
    2. Support AB 2192, which will stop the abuse of “protected plates” – the confidential license plates found on over 1.5 million vehicles in California – including, as one commenter suspected, those of our legislators. (Protected plates make those vehicles effectively immune from red light camera and toll tickets. If you want to know more about protected plates, read Cal. Veh. Code 1808.4.)
    3. Finally, ask them to vote NO on SB 1303, which is a bill pretending to be red light camera reform, but actually makes things worse, and to vote NO on AB 2147, which will require judges to issue bench warrants for camera tickets.

    The three calls will take you a total of ten minutes, and will likely save you or your family one or more expensive tickets.

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