Free-standing photo radar box returns to Edmonton streets

Free-standing photo-radar equipment will be reintroduced on Edmonton streets starting this week, the city announced Thursday.

'It looks similar to a small utility box,' says city's executive director of traffic safety

Photo-radar boxes like this one could be coming soon to an Edmonton street near you. (City of Edmonton)

Free-standing photo-radar equipment will be reintroduced on Edmonton streets starting this week, the city announced Thursday.

The equipment is contained in a box that will be placed "at locations where it has been impossible to deploy enforcement vehicles safely," the city said in a statement.
Gerry Shimko, executive director of the city's office of traffic safety, says the new photo radar box will be useful in specific areas of Edmonton. (CBC)

"This is regular photo-enforcement equipment housed inside a metal case that can be set beside the road," said Gerry Shimko, executive director of the city's office of traffic safety. "It looks similar to a small utility box."

Shimko said the city only has one such box right now but 10 or 20 locations where it would be helpful, such as along 99th Street between Whyte Avenue and Scona Road.

On that stretch "you basically have two lanes north and two lanes south, with some limited parking," he said. "But there's no place you can actually physically park a vehicle on the roadway that's not going to be obstructive or just create more hazards.

"So this is one (unit) that you can basically put out on the sidewalk and not impede traffic or cause another hazard."

Other locations the box might be used include school zones and places "where parking a vehicle can cause damage to grass, or things of that nature."

There are close to 1,000 mobile photo radar locations in Edmonton. The box is approved for use in all of them, "but we have very specific priorities that we want to address in some areas with its capabilities," Shimko said.

A map of all automated-enforcement sites in Edmonton is posted on edmonton.ca.

Other Alberta municipalities use the boxes but they were last used in Edmonton in 2009. The equipment recently became available again with a change in the provider of mobile enforcement services.

Peace officers will monitor the devices and confirm infractions.

The city said it received 651 complaints in 2015 about vehicles speeding. In the first six months of 2016, it heard from 397 people who wanted more enforcement and other traffic calming measures. A traffic safety survey conducted in 2014 found the majority of respondents perceived speeding as a serious safety threat.

Meanwhile, the city is doubling the number of "digital feedback" signs on roadways from the current 50 to 100 by the end of 2016.

The signs, which tell drivers how fast they're going, will be deployed in school zones, on 170th Street, Whitemud Drive, 75th Street and Yellowheadd Trail. They will also be used at exits off high-speed roads like Anthony Henday Drive, "to re-educate drivers on highway speed versus the urban speed," Shimko said.

​"The more speed compliant we can be, the greater chances we'll have in reducing fatalities and major injuries."