The City is monitoring much more than cycle traffic on Laurier

The Citizen reports today * that the City and Carleton U are monitoring cyclist and motorist behaviour along the Laurier separated bike lane (SBL). They are using video equipment to record behaviour of individual users and interactions amongst users.

The citizen story doesn’t tell us HOW they are doing this, or give us the larger picture. Here is a photo overview of one video camera installation. The camera set up was used to record 100 hours of the intersection, then moved to the next, til all 8 Laurier intersections were monitored.

(above): the recording device consists of some equipment boxes at the base, a yellow clamp attaching it all to a stationary object, and the very tall thin pole. The camera is at the top of the pole, as shown in this pic:

(Above) looking way – way – up, Jerome, the monitoring camera is quite small at the top of the pole. Coincidentally, the regular signal pole right beside it has a much larger real-time camera used by the traffic signals branch to monitor traffic congestion and modify the light sequences to speed up rush hour traffic.

Here is a close up of the equipment at the base. Presumably the battery pack and recording or transmission equipment:

The equipment pictures above were taken 12 October, 2011, when I first noticed the equipment along the Laurier SBL. I asked Colin Simpson what was being monitored and why, the city told me basically what is in today’s Citizen story, and the City asked me not to write about it since knowledge of the observation might influence the subjects’ behaviours.

But the observation of behaviour is not limited to the Laurier SBL. It is being conducted at other intersections too. For example, I saw the same equipment installed on different sides of the Rideau – King Edward intersection.  I recall the King Edward installation well because I was with a city infrastructure official at the time, and we speculated what was being monitored. I have seen it installed elsewhere too, but cannot recollect just where.

There is no doubt much to be learned about the behaviour of motorists, cyclists, pedestrians, tourists, cycle couriers, delivery truck drivers … I wonder how detailed the analysis would be since overall categories like “cyclist” or “pedestrian” can have numerous subsets that will affect behaviour. For example, female cyclists are now widely seen as an indicator species of infrastructure perceived safety. No doubt tourists behave differently from resident pedestrians, who might differ in behaviour by function (going to work vs lunch stroll vs walking to a meeting vs going home).

I hope that one day we will get the whole story of what was seen and learned, and not just the Laurier SBL which continues to be the focus of media attention.

4 thoughts on “The City is monitoring much more than cycle traffic on Laurier

  1. I noticed a similar camera setup around the intersection of Riverside and Pleasant Park.

  2. I recall seeing a similar installation somewhere on Somerset (I think at Bronson) in the spring. I moved out of the neighbourhood at the beginning of May, so it would have been shortly before then.

  3. Most recently saw one of those gadgets at the corner of Tenth Line and Charlemagne, over by the Petro-Canada station’s side of the intersection. Last week, if memory serves. Before that, directly across the street from the Ottawa Library Main Branch last year.

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