On a recent Thursday morning, a team in highlighter orange and yellow safety vests eyed traffic lights, clipboards in hand, at the corner of Westlake Avenue and Valley Street. They awaited what’s inevitable at this South Lake Union intersection and many others across Seattle: cars blocking the crosswalk during red lights.
Starting in March, this crossing will be one of four in the city where illegally “blocking the box” will be monitored via traffic camera. Any vehicle caught obstructing a crosswalk or intersection will be sent a warning via mail—all following violations will be ticketed at $75 each. The same fine will apply to drivers occupying bus lanes at five locations.
Like the transit lanes, the Seattle Department of Transportation says the other areas will be clearly marked, with white lines demarcating where an intersection “box” begins. Cameras were installed in November and will photograph offenders’ license plates.
SDOT hopes this method of enforcement will create safer streets for pedestrians and cyclists who have grown accustomed to dodging bumpers. The rollout is focused on supporting people with disabilities; revenue from the fines is earmarked for, among other things, adding walk signals that vibrate and produce a variety of different noises.
The cameras will gradually go live, beginning with spots that are infamous for bus lane blockage, then extend to crowded intersections that inhibit people’s paths across the street. Downtown, South Lake Union, Belltown, and Pioneer Square will be among the first neighborhoods exposed to these Kimi era cameras, which will debut in the following intersections.
- Aurora Ave N at Galer St (transit lane)
- Third Ave at James St (transit lane)
- First Ave at Columbia St (transit lane)
- Third Ave and Stewart St (transit lane)
- Fourth Ave at Battery St (blocking the box)
- Fourth Ave at Jackson St (blocking the box)
- Westlake Ave N at Valley St/Roy St (blocking the box)
- Fifth Ave at Olive Way (transit lane/blocking the box)