"Thank goodness" for photo enforcement

Red light and speed cameras have been making D.C.’s streets safer for pedestrians, drivers and cyclists for a decade. The implementation of this initiative, formally titled the Automated Traffic Enforcement program, has corresponded with decreased speeding and traffic fatalities. To highlight the importance of D.C.’s traffic cameras, the D.C. Pedestrian Advisory Council (PAC) is sharing success stories from Washingtonians who have benefitted from the program. Our first interviewee is Ms. Gladys Graye, a senior and Hillcrest resident, who spoke with PAC’s Krystle Okafor.

Please describe the transportation conditions in your community.

I am bordered by Pennsylvania Avenue, entering into the District of Columbia or exiting the District of Columbia. We have a major, major problem with traffic. In my neighborhood, we have people who are blind, we have a lot of people who ride in wheel chairs and use walkers, and don’t forget the children that have to cross. So having these cameras and an additional street signal light has helped my neighborhood. It has helped and slowed traffic down. Thank goodness for that program!

How did you personally get involved with the traffic camera program and working with the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD)?

I was just so concerned with the blind people in my neighborhood trying to cross the street at Fort Davis and Pennsylvania Avenue. And so I asked my lieutenant, which is Lt. Hodge, about who would be in charge of the cameras and that we would like to have cameras in our neighborhood. So he gave me [MPD Program Manager] Lisa Sutter’s telephone number. She came out and did a walk. And it was thorough; it wasn’t just picked out of a hat. We spent at least an hour and a half watching the traffic before she, I guess, made a determination that it would be needed.

How was MPD responsive to your needs? Did MPD work well with your community?

Oh, yes! We got the best lieutenant, Hodge, and all of the other officers that service Hillcrest. If you can come to his [police service area] meetings, it’s normally the third Wednesday, you’ll see how many people show up. That’s how we think about our police department. And Chief Lanier comes out to speak to us whenever there’s a need. And our commander, Cmdr. Robert Contee. It’s a community.

How have the traffic cameras impacted your personally?

Well, at 70 years old I don’t have to run across the street. I can walk because the traffic slows down and they don’t run the traffic lights. Now cars are not racing. So that helps me and my neighbors. I would tell the councilmen that I applaud that program. That program needs to be in neighborhoods where you have major thoroughfares. It’s definitely needed. It’s saving lives.