Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

So we're not the speed-trap capital of Canada

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I have disappointing news for you today.

Winnipeg isn't home to the worst speed traps in North America, never mind Canada.

At least, that's according to a highly unscientific survey of data from a website called The National Speed Traps Exchange, which collects citizens' "watch-out" sightings of cops skulking around with radar guns anywhere from here to Flower Mound, Texas.

Oh, but just because we didn't top the list doesn't mean Winnipeg isn't on the website's radar.

The National Motorists Association announced the speed-trap rankings this week in a news release designed, no doubt, to drive traffic to their website at an accelerated rate. And to advertisements on its website, such as the one for a retired Winnipeg cop who once might have written you a speeding ticket but now will take your money for helping to find a way to have it thrown out of court.

Before we take look at what else there is about Winnipeg on the speed-trap website, you should know three Ontario cities -- Windsor, Hamilton and Mississauga -- finished in the top-five worst-speed-trap towns among urban areas with populations of more than 50,000. The aforementioned Flower Mound, Texas, being No. 1. Among provinces and states, Ontario finished first among the worst which, I'm told, shouldn't surprise anyone who regularly crosses the Manitoba-Ontario border en route to Lake of the Woods cottage country.

Not that Winnipeg police are slouches when it comes to writing speeding tickets.

Over the last decade, locals have posted 100 city locations on The National Speed Trap Exchange, some of which might even fit the definition of a speed trap. So what is a speed trap?

"Speed traps typically combine arbitrarily low speed limits with heavy traffic enforcement designed to generate ticket revenue," is the way the NMA explained it in its news release.

The NMA went on to say more about speed traps and their raison d'�tre.

"While the intent may be to modify driver behaviour long-term, that is rarely the result. Speed traps keep springing up in the same locations, the issuance of tickets flows unabated, and there is no material effect on traffic safety. That is why the NMA advocates for increased speed limits in chronic speed-trap areas supported by traffic studies and proven engineering principles."

Having reported that, perhaps you'd care to see an example of what locals have been posting about Winnipeg's speeding-ticket hot spots. Here's the latest one, posted on Aug. 10.

"Route 90 northbound before Ness Avenue Winnipeg, Man.:

"The officer hides in the trees by the Safeway Store... He catches everyone that is in the first row of traffic at 90 km (per hour) in a posted 70 km zone. Everyone is busy watching merging traffic, trying to change lanes and watching the oncoming intersection and traffic lights."

And speeding.

For some reason the guy forgot to mention speeding.

Under each posting, the website has an area where website visitors can vote on whether it is or isn't a speed trap.

The latest voting looked like this:

"Yes this is a speed trap (2) No, this is definitely NOT a speed trap (0)."

No wonder Winnipeg didn't make the top five.

The earliest Winnipeg post goes back to Aug. 30, 2002, which is 10 years ago today.

"Northbound Osborne at Broadway.

"Several officers sit at the legislature entrance using a tripod mounted (radar) device nabbing speeders as they drive 50km/h over the Osborne bridge. Constant enforcement (several days a week), esp. after dark (9 p.m.-2 a.m.)."

It got 10 votes for a being a speed trap and two for "definitely NOT."

I remember how I voted on that location back about that time when I was pulled over while driving downtown on a Saturday evening.

It felt like a speed trap because I hadn't seen any sign saying the bridge was a 50 km/h zone.

I'm not so sure I feel that way now.

Especially after police reported that on a Monday evening earlier this month, officers "monitoring" traffic coming off the Sherbrook Bridge and rounding the curve by the Misericordia Health Centre caught a driver doing 112 km/h in what is a 50 km/h zone.

I know how potentially dangerous that location is for both cars leaving the Misericordia and pedestrians in the area and I know police set up there and it's "definitely NOT" a speed trap.

Which might be why I couldn't find it on the website.

Anyway, I paid my ticket for crossing the Osborne Bridge over the speed limit all those years ago.

And I assume the officer who ticketed me hasn't had to buy a beer with his police pals every since.

He deserves the free beer and I deserved the ticket, because I should have known the speed limit and obeyed it.

And so should we all.

gordon.sinclair@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 30, 2012 B1

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