Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Expert joins foes of photo radar

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The local anti-photo-radar group, WiseUpWinnipeg, has added a seasoned expert to its list of people who doubt the accuracy of a mobile photo-radar unit that continues to nab alleged speeders near Grant Park High School.

Radar expert and former City of Winnipeg traffic signals manager George Sagi is revealing what he believes is causing thousands of allegedly incorrect readings by the now-infamous mobile-radar unit at Grant Avenue and Nathaniel Street.

"Shooting broadside to a target vehicle invites massive error due to the varying metal surfaces of the vehicle's side profile, but is particularly confounded by the hyper-rotation of metal rims and hubcaps," said Sagi on Friday. "This is a well-known shortcoming of the technology.

"The city should never be operating under those conditions, and they know it."

Controversy over the camera was raised a year ago, just after police placed it near the intersection.

WiseUp's Todd Dube has repeatedly said the camera at this location is improperly positioned and the more than 20,000 tickets issued from there should be declared invalid.

Sagi said if the procedures outlined in the instruction manuals of photo-radar equipment aren't properly followed, false readings will occur.

"The problem at this location is because of the distance and the angle, the radar starts shooting both the back and the side of the vehicle, and the hubcaps and any other rotating or vibrating parts of the car create a false reading," said Sagi, who holds an electronics engineering degree from the Technical University of Budapest, and a master of sciences degree from the University of Manitoba.

However, just three months ago a series of tests conducted at the site with the Free Press present showed photo radar seems to work just fine near the River Heights intersection.

Police demonstrated the photo-radar unit is just as accurate at measuring speeds as a police laser speed gun -- the standard equipment police use throughout the city in regular traffic enforcement.

Photo enforcement was introduced in Winnipeg in 2003 and has expanded to 50 intersections that can be monitored by cameras -- 33 cameras rotate through them.

There are 10 mobile photo units that do speed enforcement in school zones, near playgrounds and in construction zones.

However, it's the mobile camera at Grant and Nathaniel that's raised the most questions -- recently spawning several challenges in traffic court over its accuracy.

 

-- with files from Bruce Owen

paul.williamson@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 29, 2012 A14

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