More than a few local bicyclists have noticed that the new bike counter at the east end of the Spokane Street Swing Bridge (aka the West Seattle “low bridge”) seems to have glitches. West Seattleite Russ Walker caught multiple instances in a real-time video (above; in the first minute alone, four riders go by, but only one is counted). Russ’s video drew a comment this afternoon from an executive of the manufacturer, Eco-Counter:
…Eco-Counter and SDOT are still working to adjust the counter. We know it is not performing as well as it should. A couple of unique factors at this specific location are causing the problems you documented very well. …
After Russ shared news of that comment, we e-mailed the executive, Jean-Francois Rheault, with followup questions, especially regarding the “unique factors,” and the error rate. He replied quickly:
At this point, we are still investigating the cause of the problem. Some cyclists register two counts while some cyclists are not registering any. Therefore, it is hard to evaluate the error rate and I would prefer not guessing an error.
Not sure it is of interest to your readers but we think the problem may be caused by a combination of 3 factors (fast-moving cyclists, presence of high-voltage power lines, and potential problem with configuration). Separately, those factors do not cause any problem but together, they are reducing the accuracy of the counts.
I would like to mention that SDOT staff have been very responsive and professional helping us to solve the issue. Sensors sometimes need to be calibrated and we are in such a case. We are sorry the counts are not as good as they should, but please know that we are committed to making this work as soon as possible. A technician will visit the site in the next week or so.
All in all, we know there is a problem. We are doing our best to solve it as soon as possible.
The counter was purchased and donated by Cascade Bicycle Club, along with money to underwrite its first year of operation, so public funding isn’t the issue here, except for future public funding that might not be spent or planned appropriately if the usage numbers aren’t accurate.