12/17/2018Minor Concessions Fail To Satisfy French Speed Camera Resistance
Speech of French president fails to stop widespread speed camera destruction. Automated ticketing machines attacked in Italy and California.
French President Emmanuel Macron's effort last week Monday to quell the yellow vest protests failed to satisfy aggrieved motorists. In a high-profile speech, the self-styled reformer promised a package of financial relief that did not stop the ongoing war against speed cameras. Throughout the week, attacks on photo enforcement installations continued at the same heightened pace seen since the the first yellow vest protest on November 17.
Unsatisfied with Macron's offer to freeze the proposed gas tax hike and increase the minimum wage, the group Forty Million Motorists called on the government to address the policy that "crystallized the anger of road users" -- the July imposition of an 80 km/h (50 MPH) departmental speed limit across France, enforced by an increased number of automated ticketing machines.
"Demonstrations against the implementation of 80 km/h rallied tens of thousands of motorists and motorcyclists last spring; petitions continue to gather hundreds of thousands of signatures; the French oppose the measure by the millions," the group stated. "But Emmanuel Macron has become accustomed to governing without taking French opinion into account."
The group renewed its call for Macron to reverse the speed limit mandate as the only avenue of reconciliation with aggrieved drivers.
"The widespread destruction of speed cameras (half are out of order nationwide) since 80 km/h took effect is the expression of divorce between the state and the French people," the group explained. "It reflects the fact that radars have become for French road users the symbol of taxation and financial injustice."
French officials have dispatched road crews to repair the cameras as quickly as possible to minimize the state's revenue loss.
Europe 1 estimates there have now been 1500 attacks on speed cameras this year -- affecting nearly half of the nation's 3200 automated ticketing machines. This figure includes the non-destructive acts of placing a cardboard box or yellow vest over camera lenses. Only 250 of these attacks resulted in the complete destruction of the camera, however. By Sunday, 21 of 22 automated ticketing machines were disabled in the Gers department. At the beginning of the week, ten of the sixteen cameras in the Cher department were out of commission. The tally in the Yonne department grew to seventeen out of thirty-one. In Cantal, the total reached fourteen out of fifteen cameras. In the Pays d'Auge region, eight of eight cameras are out of service. Fourteen of fifteen speed cameras in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence department have been covered, painted or burned. The lone functional camera has also been targeted, but it was recently repaired.
Attacks also continued in the overseas French territories. On the Caribbean island of Martinique, a pair of cameras on the RN5 in Le Robert and Sainte-Luce were torched last week Saturday.
Less Destructive Methods
The last speed cameras in Epinal to escape vigilante attack were disabled on Tuesday. Mounted on tall poles, the devices on the Avenue des Templiers and La Route de Jeuxey continued to issue tickets unimpeded until someone duct-taped plastic bags over the lenses to blind the devices. Motorists wearing yellow vests merely stood in front of the speed camera in Bergerac holding a thermos full of coffee last week Sunday to thwart the device's ability to issue any citations. The public waved and honked enthusiastically in support, according to Sud Ouest. Once night fell, the protester covered the device with a bag and left.
By Friday, the speed camera on the RN12 had red paint blocking its lenses. On Wednesday, the D673 speed camera in Saint-Marcel was blinded by spraypaint. Yellow paint was sprayed across the lens of the speed camera on the D765 in Guidel last week Monday. On the prior weekend, the photo radar in Castetis was painted yellow, along with four cameras along the RN134 between Oloron and Pau that were blinded either by paint or trash bags.
Camera Burning, Bashing
On Saturday, the speed camera on the RN88 in Yssingeaux was destroyed by fire just two days after it had been painted bright green, along with the camera on the RD103. Around the same time, the speed cameras on the RD981 in Massilly and on the N79 in Davaye were destroyed by flames. On Wednesday, the photo radar device on the RD906 in Chalon-sur-Saone was set on fire. Likewise the automated ticketing machine on the D2144 in Jozerand was scorched. On Tuesday, the speed camera on the RN12 in Pre-en-Pail went up in flames. Last week Sunday, the speed camera on the D538 in Crest was destroyed by fire along with the D532 camera in Granges-les-Beaumont. On the D6014 in Gaillardbois-Cressenville, the speed camera was smashed by a sledgehammer.
Meanwhile in Castellamonte, Italy, vigilantes on Sunday knocked over the orange housing of a "Velo OK" brand speed camera. Quotidiano Canavese suggested the housing was empty at the time as the camera equipment is rotated from location to location. In Martiniana Po, red spraypaint blinded the speed camera on provincial road 117, TargatoCN reported.
On Saturday, a 53-year-old man in Encinitas California, began swinging a baseball bat to bash the red light camera located at El Camino Real and Encinitas Boulevard in broad daylight. Police were dispatched to rescue the device and the man was arrested after a scuffle with a deputy, according to KSWB-TV.