About the camera at 59th/Alki

(Photo by David Hutchinson)

In case you also wondered about that temporary camera at 59th/Alki – it’s labeled as having been placed for an SDOT traffic study, but without elaboration on what’s being studied, so we asked. An SDOT spokesperson replied, “This camera on Alki Trail at 59th Ave SW is for the SDOT’s annual bike counting program, done at about 40 locations across the city and during the warm-weather months. More details about this type of count are available in our annual traffic reports on this webpage.” The most-recent report there, from 2020, cited a 2019 “average annual daily traffic” count for that spot as 340.

26 Replies to "About the camera at 59th/Alki"

  • Flo B July 23, 2021 (8:29 pm)

    Sooo what bikes are they counting????? Rental bikes? Families/kids just riding around? commuters??? It appears to me that they’re simply counting to have a “number”. In the end it’s simply more wastage of our tax dollars.  

    • Brian July 24, 2021 (8:11 am)

      Lol why would it matter if it’s a rental or not? Or if someone is out for a commute vs someone out for a pleasure ride? It’s all usage that informs funding of infrastructure.

  • Djet7carn July 23, 2021 (10:27 pm)

    Don’t worry.  No facial recognition.  Nothing to see here folks.  Just move along.  

    • Surely July 23, 2021 (11:19 pm)

      That would be terrible. Imagine if facial recognition were used to catch criminals. The prospect of jail isn’t a deterrent if you can’t be easily caught, so why would we want to identify them?

      • Lucy July 24, 2021 (9:38 am)

        It’s the old, “if you’re not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about” argument.  Does anyone care about the nanny state invading our privacy even more?

        • Joe Grande July 24, 2021 (8:24 pm)

          What privacy?  Are you in a public street? Are you in a public building? On a public beech? There is no exception of privacy. In fact the constitution doesn’t have the word privacy in it.  I’d rather Seattle had cameras like Mew York City than coddling the petty criminals as is ‘The Seattle Way’. 

    • FedUp July 24, 2021 (1:08 pm)

      The only disappointing thing about this is that there are not 50 of these cameras, and they really are not being used to monitor thugs at Alki. Record me all you want while I’m enjoying the beach and pathways.  I’m not there to disturb the peace and destroy our community, so who cares?

  • they July 24, 2021 (5:05 am)

    No problem with cameras as long as everybody has access to them…

  • Maria July 24, 2021 (5:30 am)

    Traffic counts are how you decide where resources go.  This is why you have those temporary black cables stretched out across roads to count cars.  For decades they have used manual counters at multi-use trail locations such as Burke Gilman or other corridors — these are the folks you may have seen in yellow vests sitting along a trail with a clipboard (I’ve done it).  It’s good to see that  they are just using modern technology to gather better data than someone clicking a counter and extrapolating.    The Spokane Street Bridge has an electronic counter, but that also captures any pedestrian.  Since there are so many pedestrians on Alki, a camera does seem to make more sense.As far as commuters vs recreation vs tourists, it doesn’t matter.  Remember when Alki Trail was just that sidewalk?  Traffic counts got us that nice wide pathway that thousands of people enjoy now.

  • Eddie July 24, 2021 (9:34 am)

    Are you sure that’s a camera?  I’ve seen that (type) of equipment around other places in town (including the Alaska Junction) and was somehow led to believe it was an audio or ultrasonic sensor.WADOT does extensive counts at many locations throughout the state at least once a year.  Volunteers observe and count bikers and walkers on several consecutive days, recording the mode (bike/walk), time and direction they come from/went.  All funneled into a database that is available for anyone to look at.  I volunteered for the last counting in Oct, and stood watch over the intersection of Ambaum and 136th in Burien between 7 and 9am.https://wsdot.wa.gov/data/tools/bikepedcounts/

    • WSB July 24, 2021 (9:46 am)

      SDOT’s reply to me called it a camera. I won’t be able to reach them again for followup until Monday, and it’s too high up for a closer look.

  • Eddie July 24, 2021 (9:36 am)

    From the WADOT site:What is the count data used for?
    Every year, volunteers collect a massive amount of data that improves
    our understanding and informs decisions to make it safer to bike and
    walk across Washington state. This data is important for measuring the
    number of people bicycling and walking on trails, bike lanes, sidewalks,
    and other facilities across the state.
    The data is made publicly available, and it is used
    frequently by governments, transportation planners, and non-profits to
    design projects, track changes, and to measure the demand and benefits
    of investing in active transportation. To learn more, visit WSDOT. To see where the data goes visit the WSDOT data portal.

  • Flivver July 24, 2021 (1:21 pm)

    Lucy. Every business you go into has had camera’s for a long time. Banks have had camera’s for a long time. Ring camera’s have been around for a while now. What have YOU done to call out these “nanny state” user’s. I’m betting you-and all the other “anti camera” people would be HAPPY to use camera shots if it was the only source of evidence to catch someone that robbed you. And finally, please please please don’t give us the tired trope of “it’s only the gov’t camera’s that i fear” Doubt you have proof on what business and individuals to with their video. Really believe it’s all deleted never to be seen again???

    • Derek July 24, 2021 (2:10 pm)

      You do know there’s a difference between private and public cameras? Just wondering.

  • Mark Greengo July 24, 2021 (1:46 pm)

    I have seen these cameras, as well as many others.Fyi…they are owned by the city or the business near by. You do Not have access to the data.I had near accidents while working at local large company. When asked to see the recorded tape, I was denied, it’s not your camera. So if you have accident, you can not use them, only City of Seattle.This camera is not even close to the road activity. Their are bikes on the road too.Seems like someone is looking at the volleyball players. Yes, a waste of taxpayers $$$$.

    • WSB July 24, 2021 (1:56 pm)

      The story notes that this is SDOT’s (city Transportation Department). It is on the water side, not the business/residential side.

  • Derek July 24, 2021 (2:09 pm)

    This is so gross. I hate the surveillance state.

    • Anne July 24, 2021 (7:28 pm)

      Oh please

    • Joe Grande July 24, 2021 (8:29 pm)

      Than don’t complain when you are mugged. Don’t complain when your car is broken into. Live in your dream and not reality. 

  • Flivver July 24, 2021 (4:07 pm)

    Derek. There is no difference. WSB;youtube;local and national media show private/retail/government video/pictures ALL the time. Ever watch the news or WSB??? I’m always amused by the people that are angry if the “government” is videoing them walking down a street but are ok with being watched and recorded by business/home cameras on the same street. Guess they believe that “non government” video is always pure and motive free and government video is always bad …………………………. 

  • WSB July 24, 2021 (4:26 pm)

    Update to the discussion upthread: It’s a camera. David, who sent the original photo/tip, found exactly what the make/model is. You can even watch a demo video:

  • Eddie July 24, 2021 (4:39 pm)

    Companies like All Traffic Data Services are contracted all the time to provide data (i.e. facts, not conjecture) about traffic and related issues, like parking. From their website:

    Our services encompass data types, project sizes, and states.

    We are proud to use our deep knowledge and innovative technology to provide intelligent traffic solutions uniquely customized to our customers. We evaluate each customer’s specific needs to create a strategic, smart data plan for optimum efficiency and accurate results – every time.

    Average Daily Traffic Counts

    Volume, Speed, Classification, Delay data collection, usually 24 hours to 7 days.

    Turning Movement Counts

    Intersection counts by movement taken typically during peak periods. Can include truck percentages, queue, pedestrians, bicycles, and delay. In addition to turning movement counts, ATD can collect Wi-Fi/Bluetooth data at each intersection during the count.

    Origin-Destination Studies

    Camera recorded license plate records. Data is taken at each entrance and exit of a corridor. The data is processed to determine the number of cut-through trips, or to determine heavy traffic routes.

    Gap Studies Data

    Collected with video cameras from a vantage point where there is good visual space to see vehicles as they approach the access or intersection.

    Travel Time

    GPS trips of a specific corridor determine the corridor length and travel time. Specific causes of delay are also identified to aid in determining possible trouble locations for needed improvements.

    Radar Data Collection

    Radar data collection allows for volume counts and three classes of vehicles to be collected with speeds without the need to be in the roadway, typical for use of data collection on highways.

    Video Collection

    Video can be collected on a corridor to determine the cause of congestion on a specific section of roadway, and video can be collected at parking lots to determine turnover/use. Video data is useful in capturing information that can be reviewed/processed at a later date.

    Bluetooth Data Collection

    Bluetooth data collection is used for turning movement counts, origin- destination, speed and travel time studies.

    Crash Diagrams

    Accident reports provided from the local agency are imported into an online tool which will allow staff to look at specific types of accidents or accidents by year.

    Asset Inventory

    Asset Inventory Capture imagery data with a Trimble MX7. This data can be used in correlation with other programs to manually or automatically complete inventories of locations and conditions or signs, traffic signals, striping, lighting, bus stops or sidewalk, just to name a few. This technology can also be used to inventory or maintain quality of other assets that might be needed by different departments, such as trails or manholes/inlets.

    Additional Data

    Other data collected frequently includes intersection lane geometries, speedlimits, intersection control, andexisting traffic signal timing. Inventoryof parking lots and on-street parking, aswell as other various items, as requestedper job.

  • Auntie July 24, 2021 (9:13 pm)

    If you are so worried about your privacy, then get rid of that Ring camera on your front porch. You are invading the privacy of anyone that walks by. Get over yourself.

  • GP July 25, 2021 (11:55 am)

    How is this even possible when Seattle has their own law against cameras being used in parks?? See this article and others online about it: https://westseattleblog.com/2021/07/theyve-taken-away-our-only-line-of-defense-heres-what-happened-when-volunteer-steward-at-car-prowl-plagued-west-seattle-park-tried-to-fight-back — So instead they just pick and choose which parks and beaches can have surveillance?  How does that work when Seattle has a law against it?

  • GP July 25, 2021 (11:57 am)

    How is this even possible when Seattle has their own law against cameras being used in parks?? See this article and others online about it: https://westseattleblog.com/2021/07/theyve-taken-away-our-only-line-of-defense-heres-what-happened-when-volunteer-steward-at-car-prowl-plagued-west-seattle-park-tried-to-fight-back — So instead they just pick and choose which parks and beaches can have surveillance?  How does that work when they have a law against it?

    • WSB July 25, 2021 (12:28 pm)

      The city has a very tall stack of regulations regarding “surveillance technologies,” what’s allowed and what’s not. A few years back there was a series of hearings regarding rules and regulations for each department. I don’t have time right now but will look at SDOT’s section later.

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