News Roundup: Shakeup

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This is an open thread.




Comments

  1. Doug Bostrom says:

    Re item #1: for those of us not wishing the Governor’s chair to be occupied by a strangely anachronistic person who cannot imagine a train crossing a bridge* this was a handy reminder to contribute to Inslee’s campaign.

    *
    Earlier this year, McKenna told the Eastside Transportation Association that he wasn’t “sure how light rail is going to work” on I-90 and expressed skepticism about the project.

    • You left out a key word: FLOATING

      I dare you to post a picture of this actually happening somewhere in the world where a train can get across a heaving bridge set on top of the water.

      CGI doesn’t cut it…

      Now you can quit bashing our heroic next Governor any day now.

      • I hope you’re still in skagit county.

      • Charles says:

        Hey Joe,

        If they can do it in the 19th Century, they can surely do it in the 21st Century. http://goo.gl/xbO7p

        And why would your “insipid” gubernatorial candidate and his puppeteers be “oh so concerned” about the engineering of this bridge pathway? Are they actually qualified to make an intelligent assessment as to the efficacy of this plan? Don’t you think Sound Transit is capable of making the call on this?

      • Wes, I am.

        Charles, that bridge was NOT heaving in the middle of a windstorm. Besides, all a Governor McKenna can do to stop this project now is another public vote. IF he wanted to torque a lot of people off… My preference: Just dig a tunnel already.

      • Charles says:

        That bridge was decommissioned in the 1960′s (nearly 90 years of useful life) and one key difference was that it was built over a river in a strong current and the bridge was movable to facilitate river traffic.

      • Matthew Johnson says:

        I’d be interested in understanding why you think McKenna is ‘heroic.’

      • Scott Stidell says:

        Yep…90 years. In a river (they tend to have moving water). In fact, there were three of them; I believe the other two were both in service over 50 years themselves.

      • The Lawler bridge was replaced in 1910.

        36 years but nothing says how many times the moveable parts were replace during that period.

      • Charles: Sure, I’m no engineer. Just a skeptic.

        Matthew: Considering that Rob McKenna has stuck up for the US Constitution by dragging Obamacare to the US Supreme Court, stood up for private property rights against the King County CAO, stood up to his own base by his moderate views on budgeting instead of promising tax cuts galore & more cuts to education, stood up in the real war on women by fighting sex trafficking, and finally stood up to make sure Sound Transit was viable against strident opposition – I think he’s rather heroic for taking on BOTH the left & the right. Sorry if I’m off-topic STB admin but I was asked a direct question, so I gave a direct answer.

      • The bridge doesn’t heave that much, the lake level is carefully controlled by the Corp of Engineers and the bridge has positive buoyancy. The engineering “challenge” is really trivial. The only reason light rail foes like McKenna, Freeman and Niles latch on to that issue is because they know that most of the people they pander to are functionally illiterate when it comes to science and engineering.

      • Matthew Johnson says:

        How many Republican AGs DIDN’T join in taking the Afordable Care Act to SCOTUS? How heroic is it tag along with EVERYONE ELSE?

        Please explain your King County CAO comment.

        McKenna has yet to offer a plan on how he intends to fund his education spending. Making sweeping promises isn’t heroic, it’s pandering. When McKenna comes out with a real plan on how he plans to fulfill his promises, then I’ll give him some credit. And no repeating ‘efficiencies’ and ‘trim the fat’ over and over again isn’t a plan. I’m talking about ‘Cut x account by 37million, move funds to Y education account. Cut b account by 62m, move funds to c education account.

        Do you also consider McGinn heroic for standing up against sex trafficking? Dow Constantine? Again, who in the region that had the ability to do something on the issue didn’t? If McKenna was just doing what anyone else in his position would do, how is that heroic?

        Please explain your ‘Make Sound Transit viable’ comment more in depth.

      • The engineering “challenge” is really trivial.

        If it’s so trivial how did they get the design of the expansion joints so wrong the first time?

      • They haven’t had to replace the joints on the other bridges, have they? WSDOT said the problem was the hollow steel that they used on the newer joints and the problem was apparent from the beginning. That lesson will obviously be taken in to account by the engineers working on the design for the rail joints. Really, it’s not rocket surgery.

      • The other bridges were only four lanes and Hood Canal sunk after something like 18 years and then the other half was replace about 20 years later. The fact that we had all this accumulated wisdom on how to build floating bridges and still screw up doesn’t give me a warm fuzzy feeling. I don’t think the rail expansion joints will be a big deal. I just think the whole floating bridge concept has never proven to last more than about 50 years and East Link will be install on a bridge that’s already sinking into the sunset by the time it opens. That and the fact that most or all of the sinkings have been construction or maintenance related seems like a recipe for disaster.

    • Clearly McKenna does not have an engineering background. What would the rest of the world think when they hear that Seattle can’t figure out how to run trains over bridges?

      • I don’t know but I know I do NOT want double-digit tuition hikes, I do NOT want more of the same either.

        BTW, Skagit County run by moderates and conservatives is EXPANDING transit service this fall!! King County run by the left… not so much.

      • Charles says:

        We’re getting double digit tuition hikes and massive cuts to essential state services because of a number of things including the unwillingness of the citizens of the State of Washington to support a level of taxation required to support those services and the requirement that much of the services the state utilizes be contracted out.

      • Charles, perhaps those higher ed institutions could SET PRIORITIES with limited revenue.

        Now there’s a thought.

        Here’s McKenna’s: Make future surpluses go to education, period.

      • Jason Rogers says:

        Avgeek Joe: The higher education institutions here are setting priorities. They have decided to (generally) maintain the quality of education they have always provided while also maintaining enrollment. This means that the cost goes up. Since the state legislature and majority of the voters of this state have decided to cut funding to higher education (or rather, the total funding has remained stagnant for the last 15-ish years while inflation has eroded the value of that funding), they have to make up the different. So tuition and fees go up.

        The alternatives are to cut enrollment (while our population continues to rise) and/or cut educational quality/opportunities/programs (some of which has happened; for example a lot of UW’s research funding is gone or has been replaced by privation donations, which requires time, money, and energy to solicit).

      • In reverse:

        Ben, McKenna does NOT have an engineering background. But he can read an engineering report.

        Bernie, good points. Why not just tunnel?

        Matthew, this is a transit blog so I’ve decided to be quick & blunt until the last point:

        Opposing Obamacare: McKenna had to stand up to Gregoire & the State Dems threatening to gut his budget. That’s guts to keep on fighting.
        King County CAO: McKenna was right to stop the 60%+ taking that the CAO represented of rural areas where fighting weeds was almost if not impossible. Clearly you haven’t been on a farm – you’d get right away why the King County CAO went too far.
        McKenna’s funding plan is no tax hikes, just as the increasing bucks come in education is priority #1.
        Sex Trafficking: Yes and you betcha those two politicians deserve credit. There are other pols who snooze… you just wanna bash McKenna.

        Sound Transit viable: But you prog transit advocates better realize you owe McKenna at least some gruding respect. Really. It was King County Councilmember Rob McKenna who saved Sound Transit in 2000 from a fiscal meltdown. Seriously. Please see http://publicola.com/2009/07/20/thank-you-rob-mckenna/ and http://www.thestranger.com/seattle/the-latest-lie/Content?oid=5337 as able please. Josh Feit even said, “I’d say Rob McKenna (ironically, given that his agenda was to bring the project down) was one of the most important Sound Transit board members there has been.” If it weren’t for McKenna… no light rail from Downtown to SeaTac. Perhaps ironically.

        Enuf said really.

      • Jason;
        Sorry I missed you. I don’t call having degree programs about “ethnic studies” and “women’s studies” and keeping administration high on the hog setting priorities in higher ed. With great respect, I’ve been fighting the latter for almost 10 years now up in Skagit.

    • I used to believe that the dumbest way to get political advice was from a celebrity. I was wrong. It’s from the comment section of a blog.

  2. Got an idea to convey about the future of the Cross Kirkland Corridor? King County Library System would like you to share it. Through its online dialogue tool, http://www.dialogue-app.com/532, you can submit ideas about what you would like to see along the Corridor and comment on others’ ideas about the same.

  3. AndrewN says:

    The King County Council adopted the fall service change with only two technical amendments. It was nice to see them not caving to the few vocal individuals who wanted to save their current, inefficient service.

    http://kingcounty.gov/council/news/2012/May/transitsvchanges.aspx

    • Adam Bejan Parast says:

      Thanks. Got the press release but forgot add it. Maybe because it’s so underwhelming…

      • There are some additional changes under “Administrative Changes” on the “Have a Say” website.
        The 24 will end service at 930p. Glad I moved to Belltown! It’s a shame they backed off that restructure, when the 24 was routed on to Ballard they probably wouldn’t have ended it so early.

        Now Magnolia has no service at all after 930p.

    • Ditto!

      BTW, Skagit County is actually adding service big time this fall! SKAT is even cutting down by over an hour the time it takes to get from Sedro-Woolley to Mt. Vernon and adding Saturday service.

      Some non-green lifestyle we live up here, STB folks! We got voters to approve a tax increase and now have more services!!

  4. Matthew Johnson says:

    “The first phase is focused on listening to the community and learning how residents use our system.”

    In the case of Route 42, they don’t.

    • Numerically, no. But the people who show up to the meetings and scream bloody murder about the 42 make Council *think* they do. And perception is reality.

  5. Matt the Engineer says:

    Oooh, third from the bottom is a real scientific study about helmets. Unscientific summary: helmets are dumb.

    “In jurisdictions where cycling is safe, a helmet law is likely to have a large unintended negative health impact. In jurisdiction where cycling is relatively unsafe, helmets will do little to make it safer and a helmet law, under relatively extreme assumptions may make a small positive contribution to net societal health.”

    • Andrew Smith says:

      The paper says this:
      1) Helmets reduce cycling.
      2) If cycling is safe, helmet laws are bad for health, because the small reduction in head injuries is more than offset by a reduction in exercise. So this is bad for health overall.
      3) However, if cycling is NOT safe, then helmet laws are doubly good: reduce cycling (which isn’t safe anyway) and reduce injuries to extant cyclists.

      The question is whether you live somewhere bicycling is safe or not. In Seattle, I guess not.

      • “1) Helmets reduce cycling.”

        From anecdotal evidence this is total BS. No one I know chose not to ride because they “had to wear a helmet.” Plenty of people choose not to ride because traffic whipping by at 20mph faster than they are riding scares the bejeous out of them. In fact I am bothered by that kind of traffic, and I can tell you a helmet does not make me feel “safer”.

        And like Anthony, my helmet has saved me from serious injury, same for wearing gloves.

        It’s like saying “wearing shoes keeps people from walking.” Because people who wear shoes chose to drive cars. Shoes cause blisters, when used for walking. ipso facto Shoes are bad for your health.

      • Mobilitor says:

        The always excellent “A View from the Cycle Path” has this to say about helmets. Just read the post “Stairs are dangerous – wear a helmet”. That just goes to show what a paranoic obsession those things are (like babyproofing). Sure, wear a helmet if you want. Don’t force it on anyone else.

        In the long run it’s counterproductive to concentrate on the marginal side of cycling safety. Helmet laws are as beneficial as those stupid FRA regulations about buff strength on passenger trains – little benefit, huge cost, and the real safety measures (PTC, cycle paths, speed limits) are ignored. Certainly, in a very limited way they can contribute to safety: head injuries during solo accidents under 20mph, IF they are well designed but most aren’t.

        Also, of course helmet laws reduce cycling: see this in Australia,
        or this in the UK.
        The plural of anecdote is BS.

      • Mobilitor says:
      • “cycle paths increase safety”… again wrong. Cycle paths are actually more dangerous than riding in traffic as cars turning can’t see bicyclists in the path at intersections.

        You can say the same thing about wearing a seat belt, high cost, limited effectiveness, “don’t foist your safety rules on me.” The problem is if you fall, and smack your head, if we take you to the ER they are required by law to treat your injury. Medical costs are increasing by 7% a year and having to treat cases where a small amount of preventive care vs a huge cost to the rest of us makes it worth it. It’s the same for Motorcycle helmets. You don’t read articles on “motorcycling is reduced by helmet wearing” because it’s the wrong conclusion.

      • The difference is seat belts and motorcycle helmets actually work.

      • If helmet laws reduce cycling, then why is the number of bicycle commuters growing?

        http://www.bikeleague.org/images/2011_acs_chart.gif

        Could it be that overall youth are also not playing outside, and as such the overall exercise level is lower? That conclusion would fit with the rise in obesity.

        http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/obesity/facts.htm

        And as such “helmet laws” may have no actual co-relationship at all.

      • seat belts and motorcycle helmets actually work.

        So do bicycle helmets:
        Injury-Control Recommendations: Bicycle Helmets

      • Mobilitor says:

        “as cars turning can’t see bicyclists in the path at intersections”

        What’s the response? More helmets that don’t help in bicycle-car collisions or designing the paths so that cars do see the cyclists and designing intersections with separate green cycles? Segregated bicycle paths do increase safety if you do it right – it’s all about reducing conflict with motor vehicles and pedestrians. Why else do the Netherlands have the highest cycling rate in the worldwith the best safety record? Almost no one wears helmets there.

        “If helmet laws reduce cycling, then why is the number of bicycle commuters growing?”

        That puny rise to approximately 1% impresses no one. That’s a bottom of the barrel baseline cycling/commuting rate that is unaffected by helmets (more like gas prices or some other factor). However, helmet laws will prevent a rise to 5% or above. They certainly depress cycling rates if they’re already significant (above 5%). Consequently, there will NEVER be a high rate of cycling with helmet laws. Not so difficult to go from zero to one percent. For 10%, 20% or 30% you need to get rid of the helmet laws.

        We can imagine all kinds of reasons pro and contra helmet laws. I prefer to go with real world examples of what works and what doesn’t.

      • Mobilitor says:

        A rise in healthcare cost is partially attributed to ‘irresponsible’ cyclists or asocial risk takers in general? Not the dysfunctional health care system?

        To put things in perspective. In the year 2008, 716 cyclists were killed in the US. Versus:
        12,000 per year climbing stairs – those daredevils, we need ‘stair helmets’ for climbing stairs.
        40,000 per year in motor vehicle accidents – that’s just ‘normal’, how about some helmets for drivers?
        111,000 per year overweight and obesity.

      • “Why else do the Netherlands have the highest cycling rate in the worldwith the best safety record?”

        Lower car speeds, and smaller cars reduces Kinetic Energy = (Mass * V^2)/2

        Gives drivers more time to avoid a collision.

    • Anthony says:

      Helmets are the ultimate contradictory safety item. Both POVs can work in this realm, I believe, and I have had a helmet safe my life once back in 1988.

    • Don’t tell Beavis “The Rules Are Always Right” McGee!

      And now, for the second time this week, the best meme-generated takedown of helmet laws ever: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ADoy7GgnF_s

      • Andrew Smith says:

        I think you guys are totally misinterpreting what that paper is saying. On the chart it shows the US is one of the places that probably should have helmet laws.

        And that’s assuming no one who stops cycling because of the helmet decides to get other exercise (walking, the gym, running, etc.).

      • Matt the Engineer says:

        My interpretation was admittedly a bit simplistic (sarcasm intended). But it does say that you need to look at “relatively extreme assumptions” to make a “small positive contribution to net social health.” Maybe Seattle fits within those extreme assumptions, but the study certainly doesn’t tell us this. In fact, it warns us to plug in our specific data before drawing specific conclusions.

      • Andrew Smith says:

        Well, that’s a general conclusion that includes the Netherlands and Norway. You can’t say “the study certainly doesn’t tell us this” when the data + model say the US may benefit.

        Plus, his “extreme assumptions” assume that no one who bikes would otherwise exercise if they stopped because they had to wear a helmet. I agree that is an extreme assumption, but not one that helps your interpretation of his argument.

    • Matt the Engineer says:

      (sigh) From P. 8, the US has by far the highest helmet rate of contries studied, yet the second highest death rate (and the third lowest cycling rate – who knew the British cycle so infrequently!).

      “the health impacts calculated below do not reflect the possibly negative health or economic impacts associated with shifts to other modes of
      transportation such as cars.” That’s a big deal. Your chance of injury or death is far from zero when you replace a bike trip with a car trip.

      • Andrew Smith says:

        There are assumptions both ways in that paper. I’m not trying to argue for argument’s sake. But you can’t point to it and say “See it clearly shows that helmet laws are stupid in america” when the data table at the bottom shows the opposite.

        Right?

      • Matt the Engineer says:

        “Helmets are dumb” was intended as tongue-in-cheek. Helmets are a great idea, it’s having laws requiring them that isn’t always smart. I completely agree that there are large assumptions in both directions, and the results aren’t terribly clear. But I see that table differently. We have the second highest death rate and the highest helmet use – how does that indicate that helmet laws = good?

        I get your argument that helmet laws = less bikers = less injury. But we have both fewer bikers, more helmets, and more injuries!

      • Andrew smith says:

        In fact, the high helmet rate is one of the reasons why the us does benefit: so many people already wear helmets that you are discouraging relatively fewer people by forcing people to wear them.

      • Andrew Smith says:

        You (and others) seemed to have tried to say that helmets are bad. If you want that, you need different paper; this one cannot help you. This paper starts from the assumption (backed by data!!!) that helmets are good. You can’t use that to argue helmets are bad.

        I get your argument that helmet laws = less bikers = less injury

        Not my argument, that’s the model in the paper.

        But it does follow. Bicycling is more dangerous here than in Netherlands. So the people who bicycle here take more care to be safe than the do in the Netherlands. So they wear more helmets. It’s an indication of just how dangerous bicycling is here that people feel they need to wear helmets.

        We have the second highest death rate and the highest helmet use – how does that indicate that helmet laws = good?

        Correlation does not imply causation is a very basic thing in statistics. This is your argument: “Africa has the most mosquito nets per capita in the world, but they also have the most malaria. How does that imply malaria nets = good?”

      • Matt the Engineer says:

        I was not implying causation, nor drawing any conclusion. I was asking how that table draws you to the opposite conclusion. Maybe when you said “the data table at the bottom shows the opposite” I should have simply responded “how so?”. That is my question.

        “You (and others) seemed to have tried to say that helmets are bad.” I’ve already explained that this was tongue-in-cheek. The debate is about helmet laws, not whether or not wearing a helmet is a good thing.

      • Andrew Smith says:

        The debate is about helmet laws, not whether or not wearing a helmet is a good thing.

        Well, it may be now. It wasn’t when Anthony wrote “Helmets are the ultimate contradictory safety item.” Or when you said “scientific study of helmets”, which the paper isn’t (it’s a statistical model of helmet laws). That’s when I was sure people were completely misinterpreting it.

        As for how I drew my conclusion? Well, you actually have to read the paper to know what the beta, phi and psi values mean.

      • Andrew Smith says:

        I’m not trying to be a dick or argue for no reason. I just don’t want anyone to say “I read at the Seattle Transit Blog that science says helmets are stupid”.

        Honestly, I don’t really give a shit about helmet laws. I will always wear a helmet when I bicycle, which is never for transportation and always for leisure.

        My point is this:

        1) the paper does not say helmets are not safe. In fact, it starts from the position that helmets are safe.
        2) The paper does not say “Helmet laws are always bad”. In fact, it clearly indicates in the last row of table 2 that the US is one of the places that helmet laws could be beneficial.

        I don’t want anyone to think either 1 or 2 is somehow not true because of this paper.

      • Charles says:

        What is the incidence of injury to cyclists per miles travelled versus other modes? Was that factored into overall health analysis?

      • @Andrew: Part of the wrinkle here is that having more people cycling makes cycling safer. There’s a short-term effect of drivers being better at looking out for cyclists when they see them more often and having more empathy for cyclists when they know more cyclists, and there’s also a long-term effect where more cyclists means more political pressure for safe cycling conditions, especially when it comes to contentious things like slowing down car traffic and restricting turning movements.

        There was some other study showing that a new helmet law in some Australian city caused a 90% decrease in cycling among teenage girls. That’s really important — to build a cycling culture you need people of all ages, lifestyles, and interests biking, even people that care about their hair. Once you have that vast, inclusive cycling culture you have a bloc that can stand up to the motorists and say, “Get your cars out of the crosswalk — no right on red across the cycletrack!” And other important things. If a helmet law means that people have to choose between looks and biking, it will turn many cyclists of all genders and persuasions into non-cyclists when they hit puberty.

      • Andrew smith says:

        Al, yes, there are clearly issues with this model, as Matt and I have discussed. I just wanted to clarify the paper’s meaning, at least as I read it.

      • Andrew Smith says:

        What is the incidence of injury to cyclists per miles travelled versus other modes? Was that factored into overall health analysis?

        I found the answer here.

      • Charles says:

        So, should we re-open the debate about car seat belt laws while we’re at it? I’m mean really, seat belts wrinkle clothes!

      • Charles says:

        Andrew, thanks but your link did not provide “the” answer. But, since you didn’t volunteer what you found, I did more Googling and found a satisfactory answer:

        Motor Vehicle Crash Injury Rates by Mode of Travel, United States: Using Exposure-Based Methods to Quantify Differences

        Abstract

        The authors used traffic exposure data to calculate exposure-based fatal and nonfatal traffic injury rates in the United States. Nationally representative data were used to identify fatal and nonfatal traffic injuries that occurred from 1999 to 2003, and the 2001 National Household Travel Survey was used to estimate traffic exposure (i.e., person-trips). Fatal and nonfatal traffic injury rates per 100 million person-trips were calculated by mode of travel, sex, and age group. The overall fatal traffic injury rate was 10.4 per 100 million person-trips. Fatal injury rates were highest for motorcyclists, pedestrians, and bicyclists. The nonfatal traffic injury rate was 754.6 per 100 million person-trips. Nonfatal injury rates were highest for motorcyclists and bicyclists. Exposure-based traffic injury rates varied by mode of travel, sex, and age group. Motorcyclists, pedestrians, and bicyclists faced increased injury risks. Males, adolescents, and the elderly were also at increased risk. Effective interventions are available and should be implemented to protect these vulnerable road users.
        ———-
        Excerpted from the “American Journal of Epidemiology” http://aje.oxfordjournals.org/content/166/2/212.full

        But, what I was really interested in was the incidence of injuries that may not be the result of traffic accidents involving bicyclists. The fall of the bike variety. I’d be curious to know what percentage of those accidents were ameliorated by the use of a helmet.

    • Currently, there is no state law requiring helmet use. However, some cities and counties do require helmet use with bicycles. Here is a list of those locations and when the laws were enacted. Is there any evidence that WWU students have a much higher bicycle mode use than UW or that bike share programs are rampant in Everett and not Tacoma? Are there way more adults riding their bikes around Orting than in Milton? Of course not. It’s a fantasy to believe that the helmet laws are responsible for the low rate of cycling in the US. FYI, up until 2003 the King County helmet law explicitly did not apply within Seattle City Limits. How many bike share programs went out of business with the change?

      Here’s a link to the “King County Bicycle Helmet Regulations” which in part say”

      Bicycle helmets have been shown to prevent head
      injuries suffered by bicycle riders during a crash or fall.
      Studies completed in 1989 and 1996 by investigators at
      Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound and the Harborview
      Injury Prevention and Research Center show that helmet use
      9.07.005
      9-3 (KCBOH 7/2003)
      could reduce the number of head injuries involving bicycling
      by sixty-nine percent (69%) to eighty-five percent
      (85%).

      • Breadbaker says:

        Are helmet laws meaningfully enforced in King County? I see kids biking all the time without them, with and without parents. I say this as someone who would be dead without the helmet I was wearing just this past December.

    • I fail to see why people are so opposed to wearing helmets. While riding my motorcycle, helmets are a burden and aren’t very cool looking, they won’t help in most crashes, because you’ll be dead anyways, yet I wear one and it doesn’t stop other people from wearing them.

      While going around my daily business, pants are a burden and don’t protect from a majority of injuries, yet I and most people wear them.

      I could go on with many other silly things, but why are bicycle helmets so hated?

      • Matt the Engineer says:

        I’m a strong fan of helmets, and almost always wear one. The issue isn’t whether or not to wear a helmet, but whether or not to require them. Reasons not to:

        1. Bikesharing programs. Good luck starting one with a helmet law. It takes far too much forethought to bring your helmet with you to rent a bike, and renting a helmet would not be sanitary.

        2. Bicycle use goes down when helmet laws are enacted. There probably aren’t many long-distance bike commuters that stop riding when they’re forced to wear a helmet (most probably do anyway). It’s likely the short, residential street trips that decline. Check out any picture of a safe European bike path and you’ll see few helmets, almost no spandex, and women wearing hats.

      • 2. Bicycle use goes down when helmet laws are enacted.

        You’re claiming that bike use has gone down in Seattle since 2003 when the county law was expanded to include Seattle city limits? Where is there any documented case in the United States that this has happened. It’s not valid to point to some countries in Europe and say “see, they don’t wear helmets and if we didn’t have helmet laws we’d be just like them.”

      • Matt the Engineer says:

        [Bernie] Several above have linked to studies that show that helmet laws decrease bicycle trips. And it’s addressed in the study. No, I’m not claiming bicycle use has gone down in Seattle since enacting the helmet law, I’m claiming bicycle use is lower than what it would have been if we didn’t have a helmet law. Helmet laws are certainly not the only factor that drives bicycle use.

      • And as shown here, the claim that bicycling in Seattle since 2003 has gone down is not true.

        https://public.sheet.zoho.com/public/bikeleague/2000-to-2010-bike-commuters-largest-70-2-1

        In fact it went up 93%

      • I’m claiming bicycle use is lower than what it would have been if we didn’t have a helmet law.

        I knew that would be the next dodge. I can just as easily assert that bicycle use is higher because safety issues were addressed and now people can ride with a helmet without being labeled as nerds.

        Helmet laws are certainly not the only factor that drives bicycle use.

        The helmet laws in Washington have no measurable effect on cycling use. There are cities that have helmet laws and cities that don’t which are demographically the same. Saying that helmet laws in Washington State decrease the increase in cycling rates is simple not supported by fact.

      • So you chastise him for making an unsupported claim, and then follow it up with your own. Brilliant!

      • Brilliant! You understand that they are both unsupported claims. Ten demerits though for failing realize I’m not actual making such an assertion. Let me say this really slow:

        The – helmet – laws – in – Washington – have – no – measurable – effect – on – cycling – use.

      • Matt the Engineer says:

        How do you figure?

      • You do understand that Washington State does not have a mandatory helmet law, right?

      • Matt the Engineer says:

        Are you saying there are no helmet laws in Washington? Pretty sure Seattle’s helmet law is located in that state. Same with King County’s. Maybe you should speak slowly again, I’m not following.

      • There is no state wide helmet law. We have very similar jurisdictions where one has a law and another doesn’t. If it made a hill of beans difference you’d see different cycling adoption rates across jurisdictions. But you’d be hard pressed to tell if it’s Orting or Milton which requires everyone to wear a helmet by counting bikes or even counting helmets.

      • Matt the Engineer says:

        So are you ready to back that assertion up with numbers? I’m guessing you made it up.

      • I don’t own a bicycle. That I would use it largely for medium-distance utility trips but have zero desire to carry it with me every-fucking-where I go is a big part of the reason why.

        So there you go. Matt is correct, Bernie is incorrect.

        Cycling rates would be higher by at least my likely hundred trips a year if there were no helmet law.

        We’d also probably get a bike-share program without that law, so you can multiply me by many thousands of people.

      • [Carry a helmet with me everywhere, not the bike itself.]

        [Though with bike-share, you don't have to do that either.]

      • I can’t prove Sasquatch doesn’t exist. But if someone wants to be creditable they need to produce some evidence that he does. A retreat from helmet laws reduce cycling rates to they reduce the increase in cycling rates is of course a ploy to take the high ground of you can’t prove I’m wrong (at least not without a time machine). I’ve given you a perfect opportunity to show that somewhere in Washington State your theory matches reality but Yeti you can’t come up with a single one.

      • http://networkmusings.blogspot.com/2011/07/velib-celebrates-100-million-trips.html

        Paris was not a cycling city ten years ago.

        http://articles.boston.com/2012-02-27/yourtown/31105195_1_bike-share-bike-network-new-bike-lane

        Boston was really not a cycling city when I was growing up.

        Seattle, of course, gets all impressed that precisely 3.6% of its city-proper residents bike to work.

        The same 3.6% every single day. Leaving 96.4% who never touch two wheels because it’s so damned inconvenient to do so.

      • Also, if you’d like to expand the argument on whether or not helmets offer any safety benefits whatsoever, ceteris paribus, try looking up “risk compensation“.

        And then there’s the question of whether the injury-reducing efficacy of helmets has been overstated in the first place: http://road.cc/content/news/34527-cycle-helmets-dont-reduce-head-injury-risk-much-its-thought-claims-new-analysis

      • I can’t prove Sasquatch doesn’t exist.

        Bernie, can you prove that I don’t exist? I am your contradicting evidence.

        As I said right above your last post, I am someone who rarely (if ever) bikes in Seattle because the required accoutrements are not worth the extra effort to me. I am not alone.

      • I don’t like riding a bike without a helmet. But if a helmet were required, and I had access to a bike, but not a helmet. I wouldn’t ride.

        I also have seen the short-lived helmet law in Austin turn not wearing a helmet into an act of chic youthful rebeliousness, while also driving up the price of helmets. Bike vendors also supported the law knowing it would drive up the profit on their helmet sales. Pretty much the entire rest of the biking community opposed it.

        In the end, it became a helmet law for riders under the age of 18 (which, of course, helps encourage teens to drive cars instead).

      • You can get a free helmet for your kid today in Factoria, (first 50 kids) after that it’s $9. Wow the exorbitant cost of it!

        Valley General Hospital was selling them for $25 last time I went by there.

      • And right on schedule, here comes the spandex-clad Road Warrior peanut gallery to triumphantly miss the point.

      • Chris Stefan says:

        Riding a motorcycle and riding a bike are very different activities in terms of the relative speeds involved. Just because helmet use may be justified while riding a motorcycle doesn’t mean it is while riding a bicycle.

        It is unclear to me that bicycle helmets do anything to reduce the injury rate from cycling. While there may be some limited benefit I suspect efforts to train cyclists to ride safely in traffic and efforts to educate motorists to “share the road” possibly yield more benefit in terms of reducing injury. Similarly efforts by transportation departments to reduce bike/car and bike/pedestrian conflicts probably do more to reduce cyclist injuries than helmet use or mandatory helmet laws.

        I’ll also say the data on helmet laws reducing cycling seem somewhat inconclusive as well. However it should be fairly obvious that helmet laws or even a social perception that one should wear a helmet while cycling makes launching a successful bike sharing program more difficult.

        I must say the proliferation of helmets and other protective gear in various recreational activities has gotten a bit out of hand. I went skiing for the first time in many years this past Winter and I was one of the few people on the slopes not wearing a helmet. If you aren’t skiing in the trees, racing, or doing tricks and staying within your limits the relative risk of head injury is rather low, but somehow helmet use has become near-universal among skiers and snowboarders. Supposedly there are even ski areas that require everyone to wear a helmet.

        I wonder how long before we see runners and people just walking down the street wearing helmets to protect themselves from head injury should they trip and fall.

        All that said, I do feel uncomfortable riding a bike without a helmet and wear one most of the time as a general rule. However I don’t think their use should be required any more than using helmets is required for walking down the sidewalk or for driving.

    • When I was about twelve I crashed my bike and landed on my head. My helmet absorbed the impact and was destroyed in the process. If I hadn’t been wearing a helmet, I would’ve seriously messed up my head. I bought a new helmet and never rode without one again. More recently, I’ve taken branches and bits of gravel to the head while riding, and my helmet helped protect me from that as well.

      I wouldn’t ride without a helmet and gloves. I wouldn’t let my (future) kids ride without helmets and gloves. However, responsible adults make their own decisions.

  6. Mike Orr says:

    Re Denver, Nathaniel wrote earlier that, “This is an area where some of the major attractions have been scattered an HOUR outside of town *by expressway*”. What are these attractions that are sixty miles outside the city?

    Is this the reason there’s 13 miles of emptiness between Denver and its airport?

    • From Denver, 60 miles to the south is Colorado Springs, 60 miles to the north is Fort Collins, and 60 miles to the west is ski areas. The city itself is very sprawled, but this isn’t the reason why.

    • Mike Orr says:

      So, “attractions have been scattered” is different from “neighboring cities were founded before the age of the automobile and now have attractions” and “ski areas must be located where the mountains are”. My question is whether destinations were unnecessarily located to force an hour’s drive.

  7. lazarus says:

    ENR has a nice summary piece on U-Link tunneling highlighting some of the challenges:

    http://enr.construction.com/infrastructure/transportation/2012/0514-excavations-going-wellfor-seattles-light-rail-link.asp

    However, the piece is now a bit out of date as all heavy tunneling has been completed and all 3 TBM’s are currently being disassembled and shipped off to that great TBM graveyard in the sky.

    • Charles says:

      We have more tunnels to dig. Why do they go through this process every time? Dismantle and sell them only to buy more later?

      • lazarus says:

        The TBMs belong to the contractors – you’d have to ask them why they do it.

      • They are purpose built. Designed “from the ground up” so to speak for the specific job. That’s why there’s no used TBM lots on Lake City Way. They are heavy pieces of metal and worth more in scrap than paying to store in hopes of maybe someday using it somewhere else. Refurbishing would likely cost as much or more than buying a new machine and it’s not a stagnant technology. Each generation of machines is better than the last.

      • Charles says:

        I know the NorthLink project is “separate” with separate bidding processes etc., but it seems to me that major savings in money and time could have been realized if the tunneling could have been continued immediately after the completion of the ULink tunnels.

      • North Link was approved in ST2; that would have been a major bureaucratic nightmare. Are the exact locations of Roosevelt and Brooklyn stations even final?

      • lazarus says:

        Yes, the station locations are final and site clearing and prep begins this year. But the tunneling contracts have not been let yet and there is still a lot to do before tunneling begins.

        That said, I’m sure the U-Link contractors will also bid on some of the North-Link contracts. Whether they use a new TBM, a refurbished U-Link TBM, or a *new* TBM with cannibalized components from the existing machines is up to them. In the end it will be both a business and technical decision on which path they take.

      • You can buy used TBMs on the internet. I’m not a civil engineer, so I couldn’t tell you whether or not that would be a good idea.

  8. Anthony says:

    The piece on Translink hits home for me since I’m married to a Canadian and she lives on the south side of the Fraser. The service down there is horrid, and to say the least Translink is not liked by many since they seem to be ignoring one of the fastest growing areas in the Lower Mainland, namely South Surrey and Langley.

    We have been watching their funding fiasco now for some time, I hope ST takes a lesson from this; mayors who decide not to cooperate with the single largest public-transit agency sure can make life hard on everyone. Who can blame them when their locale is getting screwed?

    Last….on Friday the Sounder Northline service was cancelled due to a mudslide. To those who keep saying it should be abolished, I dare you to attempt to get to Mukilteo by bus and get the last Island Transit bus off the dock by 7:50 by taking the CT417. The re-route of the 417 is so insanely stupid now that I can’t believe this is even feasible….

    • Cue the likes of Bailo and Norman claiming South Surrey and Langley are growing *because* they’re not well served by transit.

      • Mike Orr says:

        There’s a difference between them. Bailo would say Surrey needs high speed rail, and it should continue to eastern BC and Alberta. Norman would say they just need more buses, or that they’ll all be telecommuting in five years anyway.

      • It would depend on where people have to go or where they would want to go. Google cars are just around the corner, so I’d simply wait for those. 10 years is just an instant in infrastructure planning time.

      • Mike Orr says:

        Are you saying that HSR would be good for Washington statewide regional rail but not for BC? What’s the difference?

    • “I dare you to attempt to get to Mukilteo by bus and get the last Island Transit bus off the dock by 7:50 …”
      … and you pay how much into the Sound Transit taxing district?
      I wouldn’t squeal too much if I were you with fares covering only 13% of the direct cost and nothing towards the $368 million to start the service. Not to put too fine a point on it, but $368m divided by 500 riders per day is $736,000 sunk cost for each of you.

      • Anthony says:

        @mic; Can’t answer your question as to what or how much I pay into ST’s taxing district, probably nothing. But that is truly irrelevant now. We’re talking about paying for fares aboard a public transit system that is designed more and more to carry a multitude of passengers throughout the region from possible districts that aren’t part of ST. Think MBTA or Metra, or Metrolink, we’re in a region where it is growing rapidly and that means people from all over the place.

        So, I’ll squeal more, and more. And reiterate my challenge as well. Besides, your argument holds little in terms of good service even to Mukilteo in a timely manner in case the train is out of service. The re-route of CT417 hasn’t helped much if at all for even the regular Mukilteo riders.

      • Squeal like a stuck pig. It will surely turn heads to highlight the discussion. I need all the help I can get.
        As for the CT417, it sounds like something you need to squeal to the CT Board for screwing that up.

  9. Matt the Engineer says:

    Not Seattle specific, except perhaps in our transportation strategy:

    Who says “Drill, Baby, Drill” will not lead to lower prices or more security? The ultimate non-partisan bean counters in the Congressional Budget Office.

  10. Andrew Smith says:

    The Sunbreak is right about gondolas!

  11. Hydrogen-Powered Buses Take HyRoad In California

    California is now home to a brand new hydrogen fueling station, the first publicly accessible station of its kind in the San Francisco Bay Area. Located in Emeryville, the station will provide power to 12 fuel cell municipal buses and up to 20 passenger cars every day. It is just one of two to be designed and installed for AC Transit, which operates transit buses for 13 cities in the East Bay, including Oakland and Berkeley.

    http://www.earthtechling.com/2012/05/hydrogen-powered-buses-take-hyroad-in-california/

  12. Let me be the first to predict it. I believe the RapidRide C and D Line will be interlined.

    • The Fisker Karma has a 9.0 gallon gasoline tank. I wouldn’t jump to conclusions by blaming the battery.

      Even if the battery was the cause of the fire (which is very possible) it simply goes to show that any time you have a large amount of potential energy contained in a given volume, its possible for that energy can be released violently. However, in my personal experience, it is pretty difficult to set a battery on fire. Gasoline… not so much….

      This story wouldn’t be news if the car were exclusively gasoline powered.

      Oh, bonus fun fact! Seattle’s ETBs have neither gas tanks nor batteries, making them pretty much immune from catching fire.

      • Seattle’s Alweg monorail trains have neither gas tanks nor batteries, making them pretty much immune from catching fire… er, not so much.

      • Good point about the monorail, I had forgotten about that.

        I think the thing to remember is that if the story weren’t about an electric car, it wouldn’t be news. Cars catch fire all the time.

      • David Seater says:

        The new ETBs and streetcars will have batteries. Perhaps we can use the fires to cook our carrots.

  13. Bike people. There is a Ride of Silence event happening next week to remember those killed or injured while biking. Please join the event and spread the word: http://www.facebook.com/events/266232856807906

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