Life in the fast lane caught up with a lot of people who were busted by police radar traps in the past year and ended up with speeding tickets.
The high point of our efforts to fix things in 2013 was our columns about speed traps, where police with radar guns fish for speeders at the bottom of long hills and around bends.
We’ve been unlucky at police fishing holes — really unlucky — which we started writing about last March, after we got yet another ticket for going 10 kilometres over the limit.
When we added up the tickets we’ve received in recent years, it dawned on us that we hardly ever got one before then, even though we drove faster 10 years ago than we do now.
And now we know why: Police began ramping up speed traps about eight years ago as a way to generate revenue, in places where they can snag the most drivers with the least effort.
The columns struck a chord with readers who made the same observations and inundated us with stories about being stopped at a fishing hole while going just fast enough to qualify for a ticket.
It’s not the fine that bugs people, but the effect of a couple of 10 kilometre-speeding tickets on insurance premiums, which can go up by thousands of dollars, due to a police shakedown for 50 or 60 bucks.
After we started receiving reports of regular speed-trap locations, we assembled them on an online map of fishing holes. It was a huge hit with some readers but not with others, who thought we were wrong to alert drivers to locations where they are most likely to get a ticket.
But we are unapologetic about the map, which now has about 70 locations on it. If it slows people down and helps them avoid a ticket, then mission accomplished.
Among other highlights of 2013:
Columns last spring that outlined ongoing efforts on the part of a few city councillors to extend the grace period for overtime parking tickets from five to 10 minutes. City council passed a motion to double the time before a ticket can be issued after paid parking expires, but found out that only the police services board can order parking enforcement officers to do it. So far, they haven’t.
In September we reported on an unexpectedly happy ending to an August column about a woman who got a $100 ticket for parking in front of a hidden fire hydrant on St. Lawrence St. A parking enforcement supervisor who read the column contacted us and asked to be put in touch with the woman, and arranged for her ticket to be cancelled. Parking enforcement isn’t always heartless.