09 May 2009

I understand this one

Not so long ago, I posted about a student group at ETSU (my alma mater) that protested the university’s use of coal in its physical plant. Readers may remember that I was less than enthused about that protest. However, I read in today’s Kingsport Times-News that another student group is organizing a protest. This time it is against traffic cameras in Jonesborough (Tennessee’s oldest town.)

I can respect this one. There are two important factors at play here that influenced my view.

1.) The issue is broad enough that a change in policy would benefit the entire motoring community in Washington County, TN.  If you are not familiar with 11-E, it is a heavily travelled highway that runs through Jonesborough. ETSU has hundreds of students that are from Jonesborough or they live there during the school year.

2.) The demeanor of this group seems to be very respectful and not set on shock value, which the coal protest was. Remember “We don’t want your stinking coal?” The inclusion of the public in this rally is an excellent way to educate, but also an excellent way to get good publicity for your group. Family friendly is always good.

The other side of this is the fact that Jonesborough has apparently seen a decrease in violations at the intersections.

“Initially we had monitors set up at the three intersections to see if the violations were as bad as we suspected,” Ford said. “The number of violations was terrible, at 100 per hour. When the regular cameras were installed and we issued warnings only, the violations dropped to 100 a day. During the warning period we also made sure the yellow caution light was extended to five seconds at the signals, and the violations dropped to under 60 a day.

“Now that tickets are being issued, we are experiencing about 30 violations a day. That is a tremendous improvement.”

If Mr. Ford can bring hard evidence of that to the table, I believe it would be a hard sell for the “Students of American Liberty” to make to the citizens of Jonesborough. Having travelled that way many times myself, I know it can be a bad place for speeders and light runners.

In any event, my kudos to the “Students of American Liberty” for approaching this with appropriate demeanor and with taste and concern for the residents of Jonesborough.

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