City dismisses red-light case against Medford man – Medford News, Weather, Sports, Breaking News
Glenn Gumaer of Medford appealed his conviction for running a photo-enforced red light in January, saying the yellow light was too short. On Wednesday, Medford dropped the case against him. [Jamie Lusch / Mail Tribune]
Medford officials dismissed a red-light traffic case Wednesday against chiropractor Glenn Gumaer, who was found guilty in Medford Municipal Court of running the light at Barnett Road and Stewart Avenue and then appealed in Jackson County Circuit Court.
Medford officials announced Wednesday that the city’s legal team had decided to “dismiss the case due to a technicality.”
Gumaer received a red-light violation Jan. 17 for running the photo-enforced red light at Barnett and Stewart. His appeal was set to be heard in court Wednesday afternoon. Gumaer had challenged the city on the timing of the yellow signal at the intersection, saying the yellow light was too short.
Gumaer said the yellow light lasted just 3.5 seconds, which didn’t allow time to get through without speeding, leaving drivers with a choice of getting a speeding ticket or running a red light. City officials have since changed the timing of the light.
Gumaer said he learned of the dismissal Wednesday morning while preparing with engineer Mats Jarlstrom for the appeal.
Jarlstrom made headlines in 2013 when his wife was cited by the city of Beaverton for running a red light. After a six-year battle, Jarlstrom not only proved that the signal had been incorrectly timed, but his own “extended kinematic equation” was later incorporated by the Institute of Traffic Engineers in that agency’s yellow light timing formula.
Gumaer paid Jarlstrom’s airfare to fly to Medford for Wednesday’s hearing before learning the case was dismissed. Gumaer suspected evidence he submitted earlier in the week likely prompted dismissal of the case.
“Two days ago, I presented the city with my exhibits, which included my slideshow presentation where I laid it all out. I think they took one look at that and realized there was no way they could win, so they tucked tail and ran,” Gumaer said.
“They used excuses, that it’s a technicality and they don’t have time to deal with it, but the truth is they know they can’t win because I’ve proven it’s an illegal light.”
City officials released a video Tuesday of Gumaer running the red light at Stewart and Barnett, entering the intersection when the light was already red. In a press release that accompanied the video, the city acknowledged it had changed the timing at three signals in the city.
“The city’s traffic engineer has reviewed all camera enforcement intersections to address concerns raised about the light timing,” the statement said.
“While all intersections were found to be legally compliant, of the 16 movement/approaches analyzed, three yellow light timings were updated from 3.5 seconds to 5.1 seconds to increase fairness.”
Medford police Deputy Chief Trevor Arnold said the technicality on which Gumaer’s case was dismissed was based on “the complexities of light timing,” but Arnold said Gumaer’s citation had nothing to do with timing of the yellow signal.
“The city reviewed the light timing and thought, out of fairness, it was most appropriate to adjust the light timing sequence at that intersection to allow more time,” Arnold said.
“His argument was really about the timing of the light, but my opinion is, it’s a moot point because he ran a red light,” Arnold added, noting that traffic engineers increased yellow intervals to allow more time for all maneuvers from turning to driving straight through.
“As long as I’ve been involved with photo enforcement, I’ve never had to answer questions about light timing sequence. It’s always been, ‘Why did I get a ticket?’ Timing wouldn’t even matter for this case. No violation is triggered by the system unless you enter it on a red. If he’d come through, and it was yellow when he entered, an officer could legally write a ticket, but the camera wouldn’t have even taken a picture if he entered on a yellow,” Arnold added, noting that in Oregon drivers are required to stop on both red and yellow.
“He went in when it was already red, and he’s arguing the light timing. It was really, really red. And he ran it.”
Gumaer said if the yellow signal remained for the amount of time “recommended by federal transportation standards,” it would have been yellow when he passed through. He said the too-short yellow compels drivers to speed up to get through or slam on their brakes.
Jarlstrom believes the city’s dismissal of Gumaer’s citation was an admission that the signal was timed incorrectly.
“There should have been some accountability for them doing this for such a long time. A lot of people have been hurt, Glenn is going to get some money back … but what about all those other people?” he said.
“This also puts all the other cities in the state of Oregon on notice that they need to do better to time the signals for safety, not for generating revenue. … That’s why I’ve been fighting this for over a decade.”
From a police standpoint, Arnold said, red-light cameras are about safety, not revenue.
“If these four intersections stopped capturing violations tomorrow, and no money was generated, I would be 100% happy with that,” he said.
“It’s absolutely about reducing crashes.”
In Wednesday’s statement, city officials cited a 19% reduction in crashes at photo-enforced intersections over the past decade. The city operates photo-enforced red-light and speed cameras at four intersections: Barnett and Stewart, Biddle and McAndrews roads, Central Avenue and Fourth Street and Riverside Avenue and Eighth Street.
Gumaer said he plans to move forward with a class-action lawsuit over the red-light cameras. At last count, he had more than 200 parties signed up, he said.
“I’m sure they’re hoping I won’t pursue the class-action, but it’s all up to the class-action lawyers at this point. If they take the case, I turn all my materials over to them and the city is in trouble,” Gumaer said.
“I’m coming after them.”
Reach reporter Buffy Pollock at 541-776-8784 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @orwritergal.