Red light cameras on Michigan Avenue now activated on Mag Mile, in Loop

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Red light cameras installed along Michigan Avenue on the Magnificent Mile and in the Loop were activated on Monday.

Four total cameras - the first to be installed in downtown Chicago - are located at the intersections of both North Michigan Avenue and East Ontario Street and South Michigan Avenue and East Jackson Boulevard.

Tickets for violations will not be issued until Feb. 5. Until then, offending drivers will see flashing lights warning them of the camera's presence. Violators can expect to pay a $100 fine.

The cameras aim to improve traffic safety, city officials say. However, critics argue that the cameras are simply about generating money.

The intersections were chosen because of their high number of pedestrian and vehicle traffic, according to the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT). Michigan Avenue and Ontario Street has one of the largest pedestrian volumes in the city, CDOT says.

"I think over time you're going to see more cameras placed downtown because we have a lot of accidents, a lot of pedestrians issues, we have a lot of bike issues that are growing," said Ald. Anthony Beale (9th Ward). "And so, this is the first step towards revamping the entire system."

The cameras are part of a relocation effort by the city, which last year removed red light cameras from six intersections that were deemed ineffective.

A critic of how they were initially installed, Ald. Beale said reforms to the system have fixed many of the previous problems.

"Most of the cameras were put in the communities that could least afford to pay them and now you're starting to see some parity and those cameras are being placed where the data supports they need to be," Beale said.

Still, many downtown drivers are not convinced of the benefit.

"I think it's more about revenue than it is safety," said Uber driver Julian Gaulding. "They're a nuisance more than anything else because I drive full time and you see people freak out when they see the camera light. They'll stop abruptly."

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