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Photo Enforcement Program

Update on Photo Enforcement Cameras at Intersection of Bothell Way NE and NE 170th Street

The City of Lake Forest Park currently operates Traffic Safety Enforcement Camera Systems around its schools, and at two locations on SR 522/Bothell Way NE. These systems are a safety measure designed to reduce and prevent speeding and collisions. Since its beginning in 2009, the goal of the program has been pedestrian safety in our school zones and collision reduction on SR 522. The program is used as a force-multiplier, adding to the good behavior of drivers and enforcement capacity of the Police Department. The system enables Police Department staff, which is typically running at minimum levels, to perform other functions that address a wide range of public safety tasks. 

The photo enforcement cameras at Bothell Way NE and NE 170th Street have been removed while the City reviews data collected over the past year since the system has been in operation at that location, collision information, and also pedestrian safety.

Additionally, the City is looking at the SR 522 corridor as a whole, which may include adding an additional system at the intersection of Ballinger Way NE and Bothell Way NE (SR 104 and SR 522). Once the information has been gathered, it will be reported to the City Council for its action. Pedestrian and traffic safety are extremely important to the City, it is our goal to ensure we have systems in place that provide the best possible outcome for our citizens. 

We've all had to stop short of running into another car in the middle of the intersection for drivers who think they can squeak through the light.  Speeding and running red lights jeopardize public safety on a daily basis.  To counteract this danger the City of Lake Forest Park implemented a photo enforcement program. The city installed a red light camera and installed a system of sensors to capture speed and cameras to photograph the rear of the violator's vehicle and license plate in school zones.

It is important for citizens to know that photo enforcement violations do not get applied to their driving record.  The violations are not recorded by the Washington State Department of Licensing.  As with a parking ticket, it does not matter who drives the vehicle, it's the registered owner who is responsible for the violation.

Red Light Cameras

The red light camera is installed at the following intersection in Lake Forest Park:

165th and SR522
170th and SR522

Collision & Enforcement Data

Location                      Collisions   Violations Citations  
SR 522 @ NE 165th       7 3,058 1,856
SR 522 @ NE 170th       16 3,382 715

School Zone Enforcement

Reduced-speed zones are being used to protect and improve the safety of
children walking to and from school.  Criteria taken into consideration
when setting school zone enforcement standards include the geographical
environment of the arterial and school property, age of the students,
and speed of vehicles to include standard reactionary time and vehicle
stopping distances.  The camera system is operational at the following schools:

Lake Forest Park Elementary School has a speed camera and flashing lights will operate:

Monday through Friday 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. and 2:30 to 4:00 p.m.

18700 35th Ave NE
18500 40th Place NE

Collisions Violations  Citations 9,642 4,498

Brookside Elementary School has a speed camera and flashing lights will operate:

Monday through Friday 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. and 2:30 to 4:00 p.m.

3300blk of NE 178th Street
17400blk of 37th Ave NE

Collisions Violations  Citations  2
4,456 3,153

The camera system is operational during normal school days.  The system is not operational during scheduled school holidays and summer breaks.

Traffic Safety Camera Survey Results

Last summer, the Lake Forest Park Police Department conducted a survey of its citizens on the current traffic safety photo enforcement program here in the City. On behalf of the Police Department, thank you to those of you who participated in the Survey.

As we reviewed traffic safety related data in our community, studied areas where traffic incidences were increasing and considered opportunities for mitigating safety related issues we were eager to hear from the community on one mitigation strategy that has been cost effective at producing positive results; traffic cameras. We learned a great deal from your responses and, aligned with our commitment to provide excellent customer service to our community.

Survey Results

In all, we heard from just under 2% of our residents. Roughly 80% of those respondents provided comments on the questions that provided us with a better understanding of our community’s feelings about this safety promoting solution.


# of Responses



1-      Do you think the photo enforcement program is of value to the City of Lake Forest Park?




2-      Do you think the city would benefit from expanding the photo enforcement program to the locations identified?




3-      Do you have other locations that would be more beneficial to the photo enforcement program?




The following is a synopsis of comments provided for questions one and two of the survey:

Approximately 43% of the citizens believed cameras aided with safety and 7% commented favorably on the revenue generation. Approximately 26% of the 190 comments related negatively to a revenue verses safety argument. And, about 6% expressed negative feedback on privacy related issues, while 8% questioned the effectiveness of cameras to increased safety.

Approximately 34% of the 170 comments were related to safety and 5% on revenue. 8% of the commented negatively on the effectiveness of the cameras, 18% were concerned with the fairness and/or privacy related issues, while 9% were concerned with camera's ability to create safety.

The following negative comments were consistent throughout the survey: the times of operation for the school zone cameras are too long; the signage is bad; these cameras are an invasion of my privacy; the cameras often seem to malfunction; tickets are being written for one mile an hour over the speed limit; and, the system is set up to make money for the City.

With the information from the survey, we were able to glean some very useful information that has prompted us to create FAQ’s, which are highlighted below.

Frequently Asked Questions

1) What other strategies are currently used to promote safe driving in Lake Forest Park?

The City of Lake Forest Park is an active partner in the King County Target Zero Task Force, and conduct regular local and regional emphasis patrols. We have a traffic officer assigned to a motorcycle who works on high collision problem areas and request for service by our citizens. Each day, we deploy a radar trailer randomly on streets in the City and by design to address areas of concern.

We request citizens call in speeding and other traffic related complaints to the police department. We are happy to see people traveling below the speed limit given the many blind corners in our community and lack of sidewalks; our desire to be a family, pet and kid friendly community, and our interest promoting a sense of community which is difficult if our many of our roads are treated as speedy throughways.

2) Why are traffic safety photo enforcement cameras used in Lake Forest Park?

Traffic safety camera systems are a safety measure designed to reduce and prevent speeding and collisions. The goal of our program, since beginning in 2009, has been pedestrian safety in our school zones, and collision reduction on SR 522 (Bothell Way). The program is used as a force-multiplier, adding to the enforcement capacity of the department. The cameras enable police department staff, which is typically running at minimum levels, to perform other functions that address a wide range of public safety tasks.

This system also enables unbiased technologies for promoting safe driving that lets residents and commuters through our community know we take safe driving seriously. Related directly to the police department’s goals, we want to promote the most pedestrian friendly community we can given our location and topography, and appropriately manage the extensive increase in traffic volume on Bothell Way.

3) How do the traffic safety photo enforcement cameras work?

The School Zone Speeding Cameras are linked the hours of operation for the School District and operate on the days of the week school is in session. The camera captures vehicles traveling at 26 mph, which provides a six mph variance. Often, the camera will flash as a vehicle travels through the area in a time when school is not in session. Not to worry, the camera system runs through a calibration process and at different times of the day and tickets are not issued.

The Red-Light Cameras are operational 24 hours a day. The camera captures violators that cross the solid white line after the light has turned red, it does not capture a vehicle if it is in the intersection when the light turns. Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) regulates the amber cycle time; the City has no access to the intersection controls. The cycle time is within national standards.

Prior to a citation being mailed to a violator, the system administrator (American Traffic Solutions), is required to verify a strict set of business rules that have been set up to ensure the violation has actually occurred. Once that has been accomplished, they will send the incident electronically to the police department for review. Each incident is then reviewed and verified by a Lake Forest Park Police Officer. We are required to certify a violation has occurred before it is mailed to the driver.

4) Do the traffic safety photo enforcement cameras work?

Yes. There has been a decrease in collisions at the intersection of Bothell Way and NE 165th of more than 39% since installing the camera system. Nearly 80% of the drivers sited for a photo enforcement ticket live outside of the City of Lake Forest Park. And, 91% of all violators who receive a ticket and pay it do not get another violation. This low rate of repeated behavior, tracked from program inception through April 2014, indicates a change in driver behavior.

5) What aren’t the traffic safety photo enforcement cameras used for?

The traffic safety cameras are only triggered when a law is broken, and they do not operate as a surveillance tool. Officials are unable to access data captured by the camera system without a specific warrant obtained through the court for legal purposes. The City of Lake Forest Park values the privacy and rights of our citizens. RCW 46.63.170 regulates how the systems must operate, and the City is in compliance.

6) Is the traffic safety photo enforcement camera system used to generate revenue?

Yes, the camera system does generate revenue for the City. The system has been set up to be at a minimum cost neutral for the City. In the past, two of the four sites did not generate positive revenue. Average yearly revenue, less expenses, totals approximately $350,000. The City does pay ATS a flat rate per site that totals $281,000 per year.

The Police Department has no role in the collection of fines or the distribution of funds. The Municipal Court handles all tickets and revenue, and the City Council in cooperation with the Mayor’s office sets direction for spending of the money received. Currently, the revenue is deposited into the City’s General Fund, which assists each department providing a wide variety of services.

We are sharing the revenue so the community is aware of the financial reality of this mitigation strategy but that, again, the Police Department’s sole purpose in employing this strategy in several locations in our city is purely based on positive gains in safety regardless of how small those margins may seem to some.

7) Who provides the traffic safety photo enforcement camera system technology?

American Traffic Solutions (ATS). The technology developed and provided by ATS is the best in the industry. ATS develops, delivers and operates next-generation road safety products and services that reduce the number and severity of preventable crashes by increasing compliance with traffic laws addressing red-lights, school zones, speed limits and school bus safety.

Changes to the System

The times at all of the School Zone Enforcement locations have been adjusted. Instead of beginning at 7:00am, they begin at 7:30am. At the end of the day, they stop operation at 4:00pm, instead of 4:30pm. Additionally, all of the signs have been adjusted to clearly mark the times of operation.

Future Growth

In September 2015, an additional Red-Light enforcement location will begin at Bothell Way and NE 170th. In 2014, this location became the number one location for collisions in Lake Forest Park with the potential for high speed collisions. It is a main crossing for the Burke Gillman trail, which is populated with year-round bicycle and pedestrian traffic. This intersection has more pedestrian and vehicle traffic due to a major bus stop, the Towne Center, and a busy Starbucks location. Over the past three years, there has been a 12% increase in traffic volume, and a 120% increase in collisions. A site survey at this location predicts that there will be over 3,200 red-light violation per year.

In June 2015, an additional school zone camera location was added in front of Brookside Elementary School between NE 178th and NE 170th on 37th Ave NE. At this location, there are no sidewalks for students to use while traveling to and from school. This is also a location where many complaints by students, parents, and teachers originate. This past year, there was a road rage incident that occurred here causing great concern during school commute hours. 

The 2014 traffic safety camera enforcement data is located within the Lake Forest Park Police Department Annual Report.