Automated Enforcement and Racial Bias


Dear Bicycle Colorado –

Racial bias in policing makes the enforcement of most traffic laws by armed police unjustifiable. At the same time, the COVID-19 pandemic has reduced traffic volumes and opened up streets, leading to widespread speeding and even increases in collisions, injuries, and fatalities in some parts of the country. Research shows that people of color suffer disproportionately from traffic violence. Clearly additional enforcement is needed; without it we will see even worse driving behavior and more avoidable deaths and injuries.

Community Cycles, Boulder’s non-profit bicycle co-op and advocacy organization, believes the time is ripe to re-evaluate how traffic laws, particularly speeding and red-light-running, are enforced. Technology now affords us the possibility of truly unbiased enforcement.

In the past, state legislators have placed severe restrictions on the use of red-light and speed radar automated enforcement. We feel it’s time to revisit this issue using racial equity and police abuses on people of color as a motivator. We encourage Bicycle Colorado to lobby the state legislature for significant changes to laws governing automated enforcement.

We’d like to see the laws changed to remove limits on the number of such devices, the use of speed radar enforcement in only residential areas, and other restrictions that have been implemented in state law, while also ensuring that automated enforcement occurs in an equitable manner that protects rather than persecutes people of color and those of lesser privilege. The current minimal fines ($40) are not an effective deterrent, and automated cameras do not add points to a driver’s record. Adding points to increasing fines would encourage behavior changes. However, we encourage fines that are not compounded by escalating late fees that lead to arrest warrants or vehicle forfeiture except in cases of clear public safety. It might also be worthwhile considering fines based on ability to pay, for example scaled by the taxable value of the vehicle being ticketed.

We encourage Bicycle Colorado to discuss these ideas and to form an action plan to bring these issues to the attention of state legislators while the topics of police behavior and equity are being considered. Any data you have on speeding, crashes, and injuries to vulnerable road users in Colorado (there are ample data from, NYC etc.) would add support to these suggestions.

The Community Cycles Advocacy Committee