SDOT blog:

Beginning today, January 11, 2021, the automated photo enforcement system on the Spokane St Swing Bridge (low bridge) will turn on, and unauthorized low bridge users will be subject to a $75 citation for every trip across the low bridge

To keep the low bridge clear for emergency vehicles – as well as transit and heavy freight – we’re saying, “don’t go low.” Instead, please use alternate routes when traveling to and from West Seattle by car. We will be monitoring low bridge traffic volumes in early 2021, and the data from January and future months will inform whether we can expand access. See our webpage for more details. 

West Seattle folks – let us know in the comments if anything’s improved.

12 Replies to “West Seattle camera enforcement coming this week”

  1. I biked across it on Saturday and there were a crap ton of cars going across. Should be interesting sticker shock once the citations start arriving

    1. Jon, you’re right about the behavior you’re describing. But a lot worse than that, I can visualize both the offense and its threat to people I’d give my life to protect. That kind of vehicle-handling in Ballard is aimed at people of mine.

      So let’s look at it from this viewpoint. If I still lived in Ballard, what would I personally do to put an end to it? Online and for real both, I would get active in forming a volunteer campaign to do this: Station myself and as many of my neighbors as I could muster along Leary Way.

      With signs pleading with every passing motorist to please slow down. I especially like the ones that show violators what their car-speed really is. But one classically tactical point. The tone of my message would be not in the form of a threat, but an urgently polite request.

      “My family and our friends live here. So, it’s father to father, mother to mother sibling to sibling, in-law to in-law. For our sake and out of plain common decency, please drive at the speed limit. This is not about The Law. It’s about Us, meaning you too. Which is also the reason we’ve brought the family dog.”

      Unless Ballard has changed seriously for the worse as a community over my years of absence, an ounce of people-to-people courtesy is worth a ton of law enforcement.

      Mark Dublin

  2. Does anyone actually believe the scofflaws will pay the citations? What, they’ll be hauled off to jail if they don’t? They’ll wait until there is the inevitable amnesty. Or they will say they are poor and would be fired from their job if they went the roundabout way. Etc, etc. Yes, I am cynical and it’s not a good place to be.

    1. With a normal traffic ticket, ignoring them would eventually get their license suspended. Since these tickets are issued to the vehicle owner, I believe they eventually stop letting you renew your tabs until the fines are paid. Which means if the vehicle is driven, they’d eventually get pulled over. With unpaid parking tickets, the vehicle would get booted, and eventually a tow truck would show up to haul the car off to car jail. If the person made it a habit over driving over the bridge where cameras are around, seems like SPD would have a pretty easy way to ticket the actual driver. Jail is unlikely unless they are high or drunk as all but a few traffic offenses in Washington are non-criminal offenses.

  3. I’m wishing I could think that the silence I’m hearing in response to my comment is in any way agreeable to me. One of the things I like best about my Prius is the “Regenerative Braking” reading on my dash. It’s telling me that literally to the mile per hour, I can handle my car so as to also make my ‘gas bill cheaper. And a lot lower depreciation, and a happier insurance agent as well.

    Reason I wouldn’t advise anybody to brag their way into a ticket that won’t be enforced is my “take” on the mindset of a lot of violators: This isn’t about speed, but dominance . The average willful speeder isn’t careless. He or she is a bully. Which I’m sure the average cow’s mother would never want on her own record.

    Approach I’d take to generate cooperation? Set the light-cycle so that a the exact correct speed gives every driver the best chance at getting through every light with the least chance of having to stop. With frequent public service announcements containing this information delivered by a transit driver in uniform.

    One mother, father, sister, brother, or cousin to another. With subtext being not subservience or obedience, but just the factual way for every single affected person to “win.” And also ending every message with a question:

    “Personally and together, what do we have to lose by at least trying? At calculation’s coldest, the thing we’ll all have to best control over by correct handling of our own vehicle’s controls. Closest vehicle mechanics to deliver on the definition called “Win-Win.”

    Mark Dublin, Former KC Metro Transit Operator 2495

  4. I’ve driven a number of toll facilities in our area where drivers cover their license plates (violating RCW 46.16A.200) or have a plate flipper (violating RCW 46.37.685). For some, being caught by law enforcement is par for the course. It’s why some consider the HOV lanes as “tinted windows lanes.”

    Let’s be honest, if one is going to fork over $30-$50 to regularly park downtown, one may be OK with paying the $75 fee from time to time to avoid navigating down to the 1st Ave South Bridge to go around. The fine really isn’t high enough. If the City really wanted to hit folks for violating the bridge restriction, the fine should be much, much higher.

    1. I think $75 is a sweet spot. High enough to be a deterrent to most regular users, but low enough that I’ll gladly pay it to get to Swedish 30 minutes sooner when my wife goes into labor in a few months. It is kind of funny that dock workers get to use it routinely but people self-driving for urgent medical care don’t, but I understand how hard it would be to create exceptions along those lines. Oh well! On the bright side it’ll be faster than when we navigated through regular WSB gridlock a couple years ago at 7am on a Thursday on the way to deliver our first baby.

  5. This will be a very good experiment to see if the West Seattle residents and businesses can live without car access, or significantly reduced car access, which should let them know what they want in a future bridge, even if they are to get light rail.

    I have to imagine Ballard and Magnolia will be paying attention. I think this is the kind of forced experiment transit advocates and urbanists have advocated, to see if transit can replace cars, and whether residents are willing to abandon cars for transit, and create density surrounding transit, except this experiment is forced. If it fails I doubt voluntary shifts from cars to transit can occur in other areas.

    Re: enforcement, a 2019 King 5 report noted Seattle prosecutors refuse to file misdemeanor charges in over half of all cases referred by police, and in the cases it does charge 42% did not receive a meaningful result.

    “The Seattle City Attorney’s Office declined to file charges in nearly half of non-traffic-related criminal cases, and of the cases it does charge, 42% did not have a meaningful resolution.”

    “Those are the major findings from a “System Failure” report released Monday that was commissioned by six Seattle business associations, including the Downtown Seattle Association, Alliance for Pioneer Square, and Visit Seattle. It was authored by attorney Scott Lindsay, who previously worked in the Ed Murray administration and for Seattle city attorney in 2017″.

    According to city attorney Pete Holmes his office would need an additional $2 million to pursue these misdemeanor referrals, so if I were a West Seattle driver I might be willing to risk a ticket since there likely won’t be enforcement.

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