SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – After getting their message out on Facebook, radio, and newspaper, a group of grassroots activists on Saturday rallied to send a message to the mayor and council of Piscataway: Take down your red-light cameras.
The group is part of a statewide effort to ban the devices, which are permitted under a state pilot program.
“It’s a revenue raiser, that’s all,” said Rich Gibbons of Monroe Township as he held up a placard along Stelton Road. “It’s definitely not for safety.”
Several local officials agreed. South Plainfield Mayor Matt Anesh joined the group for about an hour, as did Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon, a Republican from Monmouth County who has taken the lead in opposing the camera program.
O’Scanlon called the rally a “huge success” despite the weather and said it was nice to see the grassroots effort opposing the cameras explode the way it has.
“We’ve proven beyond a shadow of a doubt they don’t improve safety,” O’Scanlon said. The assemblyman predicted that public opposition to the camera program will mean its death when it comes up for renewal in December.
Anesh hopes O’Scanlon is right. But in the meantime he’s asking Piscataway to move the cameras away from the South Plainfield border. “They are making my residents in South Plainfield less safe. They need to go.”
Piscataway resident Philip Brennan agreed and thinks it’s all about the money: “I see this as a money-making scheme,” said Brennan. “If it’s about safety, then they should donate the money to cancer research.”
But not everyone from Piscataway was against the cameras. Brian Wahler, the township’s mayor, defended the program, telling a local newspaper that the governing body in South Plainfield had actually inquired about them at one point.
According to Anesh, though, South Plainfield ultimately chose not to file an application. “And more important,” Anesh said, “that was before we saw the crash data showing a spike in accidents.”
Last month, Brick Township in Ocean County became the first town in the state to take its cameras down after accident data showed they made the roads more dangerous.
When asked whether his town is less safe after taking the cameras down, Brick Mayor John Ducey said “absolutely not.” Ducey, who attended the rally, said there were fewer accidents before the cameras were installed.
“Since we’ve taken them down I’ve gotten a number of emails and hundreds of phone calls from people saying they are just happy about the decision,” Ducey said.
Ducey also said senior citizens in his community are especially happy: “They let me know that they have less stress when they are driving down Route 70 because they don’t have to worry about a traffic light turning yellow and jamming on their brakes and getting rear ended.”