35 Parks. 75 automated speed cameras. There are now 75 operating automatic speed enforcement cameras at 35 different parks around Chicago and another 71 at schools. More than $81 million dollars in fines was generated from these cameras between October 2013 and September 2015 as part of the city's "Children’s Safety Zone Program." The Chicago Tribune found that tens of thousands of drivers were ticketed under questionable circumstances during this time.
The cameras detect vehicles traveling over the posted speed limit, on average 30 mph, during posted park hours, which are anywhere from of 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 or 11:00 p.m., according to the Chicago Park District website. A $35 citation is issued for vehicles traveling 6-10 mph over and $100 for vehicles traveling 11 or more mph over the posted limit.
Cameras associated with schools will issue tickets to drivers traveling over 20 mph between 7:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. on school days "when children are present in the safety zone and 30 mph when no children are present in the safety zone” and over the posted limit between 4:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. Photos taken by the cameras are reviewed by a private company and by the city to determine if there are pedestrians present and if those pedestrians are children.
Problems with the Children's Safety Zone Program include tickets issued in school zones on days when school was not in session, no children present in photos, tickets issued when a park was under construction or after park hours, and other issues.
"Since the Tribune first began asking city officials about the program in July, the administration has altered guidelines for ticketing and begun to vacate nearly $1 million in tickets."
Below are links to some of David Kidwell and Abraham Epton's investigative articles and details about the program, including video interviews with drivers who received questionable tickets:
Emanuel's speed cameras issue $2.4 million in bad tickets http://fw.to/Or8543S
Speed cameras near tiny playlots, closed parks lead to big payout http://fw.to/8OoftkK
Many school-zone speed camera tickets issued without danger to kids, Tribune finds http://fw.to/qvtQAJe
Deciding whether to appeal a speed camera ticket http://fw.to/UyWHkrK