Fremont Needs Attention From SDOT and Metro

Route 40 inbound in Downtown Fremont, swinging wide of parked cars.

Route 40 in Downtown Fremont

Downtown Fremont is a busy place for transit. The Fremont Bridge is the gateway to much of north-central and northwest Seattle, and Fremont itself is a bustling urban village which attracts excellent ridership throughout the day. With about 16 buses per hour in the peak, 12 per hour midday, and 8 per hour in the evening, it’s a place where prioritizing transit over parking doesn’t require justification based on future demand — it’s already overdue.

Fremont Crappy Map

Yellow is bus zone, red is parking/loading zone.

The essence of the problem is shown in the photo above and map at right. There are two bus zones on Fremont Ave, just north of 34th, with parking immediately to the north of them. The zones are roughly 80′ long, enough for a 60′ articulated coach, but barely enough for two standard 40′ coaches. Parking is prohibited in the peak period, peak direction only (AM southbound, PM northbound), but at all other times, there is parking in the northbound direction, and drop-off/daytime loading zones in the southbound direction. I work in Fremont, and I’ve had plenty of opportunity to observe how these parking spots affect bus and traffic operations.

Northbound buses, when they try to pull out of that stop, are trapped by traffic behind the parked cars, usually for at least one signal cycle. Southbound buses have to swing wide of the parked cars, into the center lane, and then turn sharply in to the zone. Drivers are almost never able to bring their buses perfectly into the zone during weekday traffic. Artics in particular usually end up with their back end blocking at least one lane, and the back door several feet away from the curb. Drivers often won’t open the rear door in this case, which makes for very long dwell times at this extremely busy stop. When multiple buses try to serve either of these stops at once, it’s a giant mess. None of these problems occur at times when the relevant parking is prohibited.

For the sake of a few parking spaces, thousands of transit riders per day are suffering significant delays, and in the case of the southbound loading zones, this is spilling over to directly impact general traffic. Taking away parking has some costs, real and political, but in this case, the problems caused by these few parking spaces are vastly out of proportion to any benefit they could plausibly be claimed to provide. The obvious conclusion is that Seattle needs to take away these parking spaces and extend the bus zones.

More after the jump.

SDOT and Metro could do more, though, and they should, both to further improve transit rider’s experiences, and potentially make the parking removal more palatable to adjacent businesses. As can be seen from the photo above, the sidewalks in this area are not particularly wide given the volume of bus riders and passing pedestrians, who are also obstructed by large tree pits, utility poles, bike racks, and newspaper racks. Southbound, the curbside lane is oversized, and northbound, SDOT has squeezed in three very narrow (probably sub-standard) travel lanes. It would make sense, for all street users, to rebuild and extend the sidewalks by a few feet on each side, and repaint two normal-sized lanes in each direction.

By virtue of it being a transit crossroads, Fremont is a great place to put real-time arrival signs and maps. I suspect neither agency has anything like the money required to install an outdoor realtime arrival sign such as those used on RapidRide; however, a couple of SDOT’s 3rd Ave bus signs could work perfectly here, at a fraction of the cost. At the southbound stop, riders naturally congregate underneath the awning outside Peets; the window of that coffee shop would be the perfect place to install a realtime arrival sign. It might also be possible to install such a sign at Tawon Thai or the new Chase branch that’s going in across the street.

Finally, if the sidewalk were extended, this would be a great place for Metro to figure out how present their awesome new system maps on the street. Metro has recently refreshed its bus signs, but the new style of bus sign only includes a map display on the very largest signs, with more than 17 routes, which basically only happens on the street in downtown Seattle. This probably made sense back when the system map was borderline useless and unreadable, but maps such as this one should be made ubiquitous at major stops and transfer points. Maybe call it a “pilot project”, but Metro and SDOT should figure out some way to get that map out on the street.




Comments

  1. David L says

    Thank you, Bruce! Those parking spots are horrendous. The cost they impose on Fremont bus riders and drivers is ridiculously out of proportion to their benefit. Widening the sidewalk would also be a good thing, but getting rid of the parking spots is cheap and has to be the first priority.

  2. Benjamin C says

    YES! Absolutely needed. This sort of improvement would make the 28 (twenty-late) a much more palatable choice from my neighborhood. Currently I take the 5, but I have equal opportunity to use the 28, and might, if it were faster/more reliable.

  3. Kevin R says

    Great post. Even if they just got rid of the loading zone to the north of the SB stop (where the red jeep is in the photo) I think it would make a huge difference. I go through Fremont a lot as a rider and that stupid loading zone consistently screws things up – particularly for the SB 26/31/32 that are making the left turn.

  4. Will Green says

    Killing those parking spots is a no brainer, along with some sidewalk rebuilding and street furniture removal.

    A road diet would be great, too, especially southbound: the curb lane by the stop is unusually wide, and cars often block busses by being too far to the right in general, or when trying to make a right turn. Adding a white stripe to mark the bus zone boundary would be helpful in that regard, and would open up the possibility of a queue jump signal.

  5. says

    In addition to all the other problems with these parking spaces, there’s the problem of drivers trying to get in and out of them during heavy traffic.

    Sadly, there’s another thing in Fremont that needs attention, at an intersection that’s already had lots of work done: 34th and Fremont Ave. Currently northbound traffic is allowed to turn left (with no arrow) during all hours except the evening peak. It should be illegal all the time, like it is for southbound traffic, for reasons that are obvious to anyone that’s been there.

  6. Mark Dublin says

    Second the motion on the queue jump, especially southbound at the bridge. A bus should be able to get across the bridge and into the first zone on Westlake without being stopped by traffic.

    If the South Lake Union Streetcar is extended to Ballard and routed across the Fremont Bridge, above changes will have to happen. But since there’s zero capital expenditure required for the parking removal, shorter time-frame should be just fine.

    Like next week. Who is City Council member overseeing SDOT? One e-mail per day times every transit passenger inconvienced by parking-related delays over however much time is necessary should equal a timely resolution.

    Mark Dublin

  7. RapidRider says

    Remove the parking. If there’s one thing downtown Fremont has a lot of, it’s parking and free at that. Just look down 34th and Canal St (why aren’t these 10 hour metered M-F?).

    As Al mentioned above, remove the left turn at 34th St, there’s a left turn arrow and pocket at Fremont Pl and Evanston, which will get you to the same place, safer and faster (most of the time). You might anger a couple PCC shoppers, who risk life and limb for those free angled spots on 34th, but that short block would be better served as a pedestrian plaza/extension of the Fremont Sunday Market, seeing as it’s one way and there’s no car entrances on the block.

    I don’t quite agree that a road diet would be a good idea here, since it’s a heavily traveled road, connecting to both Fremont Way and Leary Way with no alternatives. A few sidewalk/bulb out modifications, remove the left turn onto 34th, plus the TSP that a few people have mentioned, and you’ve solved most of your bus issues.

    • Mike says

      Agreed on the no road diet.

      I can not see this solution working. 2 lanes NB would be a real problem. The traffic west bound on 34th already queues up trying to turn right, and in general that intersection is hugely traveled and would not do well with just two lanes and a bus blocking it.

      • David L says

        For some reason people seem to be allergic to garages. The West Seattle Trader Joe’s is a good example. They’ll circle around the lower parking lot endlessly and block Fauntleroy Way, and yet there are always free spots in the upper garage off 39th SW.

      • Mike Orr says

        1. Do they know it’s free? (Is it a Trader Joe’s garage?)
        2. Some garages are really tight to maneuver a car in, especially those in apartment/condo buildings. The Trader Joe’s garage on Madison, for instance, is mediocre.
        3. It’s less effort to remain on the street level to go into a garage and possibly up a level, especially the entrance is on a busy street.

      • David L says

        Yes, the garage is free (it’s on the Trader Joe’s roof), and it’s easy to drive in. I park upstairs every time I go there — it saves me a lot of time.

        Curious where RapidRider thinks the smart folks shop.

      • RapidRider says

        Locally owned and focused stores like Ballard Market or PCC, rather than a SoCal corporate chain, that’s not even owned by Americans, but tries to pretend it’s a locally focused grocer.

      • Orv says

        People often don’t feel very safe in parking garages because of the large number of places where an assailant can hide and the lack of public traffic. I’ve known women, in particular, who were extremely reluctant to park in garages, especially at night.

      • Mike Orr says

        Nobody mistakes Trader Joe’s for local. Its niche is offering a few well-selected items, focusing on added value (organic, gourmet, or no HFCS) at the same price as an equivalent supermarket commodity (non-organic, non-gourmet, HFCS), or at any rate less than a supermarket organic item. E.g., where else can you find a 1.17 lb Belgian chocolate bar for $4.99? The same amount of Hershey’s is junk; the same amount of Theo’s costs four times as much. In that sense it’s similar to Costco.

        I shop at both Trader Joe’s and Central Co-op next door. Does that make me both dumb and smart?

  8. Matt the Engineer says

    I think it’s worth pointing out that the underground parking for PCC usually has plenty of empty capacity, and provides free short-term (2 hr IIRC) parking for retail on that block.

  9. Norman says

    Removing parking for buses….

    In this situation, a pretty good case has been made, since the article says doing so would not only help buses, but all other traffic as well. And those parking spots are apparently free, so no revenue loss to the city.

    However, reducing the total number of lanes is a bad idea. Everywhere this has been done, traffic has been made significantly worse (see Dexter and Nickerson).

    [ot]

    • David L says

      Everywhere this has been done, traffic has been made significantly worse (see Dexter and Nickerson).

      I don’t think it’s necessary in Fremont. But your statement is wrong. Just a few counterexamples off the top of my head, where road diets have worked well, by getting turning motions out of the main flow of traffic:

      Rainier Ave S (south of 57th Ave S)
      Renton Ave S (in Upper Rainier Beach)
      N 50th St (between Stone and Latona)
      Greenwood Ave N (between 105th and 50th)
      N 130th St (between Greenwood and Aurora)

      • Norman says

        The only one of those with which I am familiar with is N 50th between Stone and Latona, and that road diet has made traffic on that stretch of N 50th much worse than it was before. I have driven that street often both before and after the road diet. There is no question traffic is much worse on that street since the road diet, especially east-bound.

      • David L says

        Another example where I feel like you must live in a parallel universe. I also drive that stretch often. Sometimes the queues for a light are longer than they used to be, but they rarely last more than one light, so it really doesn’t matter. Traffic moves much more smoothly because all the drivers don’t have to constantly change lanes. In the old layout, drivers kept having to change lanes to alternately dodge left-turning cars and parked cars.

      • Jim says

        I have to agree with Norman. As a frequent user of 50th, before and after the road diet, it takes much longer now and has really affected the ability to cross the city east/west. 45th was difficult before the bus bulbs but now is much more so. i support efforts to make transit flow more smoothy across the city as well as bikes but we also have to have some major east west arterial which are unencumbered by road diets. You cannot cut off whole parts of the city from decent car/truck access without having significant economic impact.
        50th has very few left turns on it — the left turn lane is mostly useless.

      • David L says

        Perhaps we are all driving it at different times of day. In fairness I rarely drive it in the morning — almost always in the afternoon or early evening.

      • Kevin R says

        I live right off N 50th and am a big fan of the road diet. Even if traffic is a bit slower it flows better (no getting stuck behind someone turning left and dodging the parked cars as David mentions) and it’s a lot safer for both drivers and pedestrians. The only problem I have with it is I think it would make more sense if it ended at the turn lane at Latona rather than at 2nd NE.

        The expectation that people should be able to fly through residential neighborhoods in their cars doesn’t seem like a rational one to me.

    • Lack Thereof says

      I don’t think you have to worry here, Norman. The bridge bottleneck a block away forces their hand.

      Southbound, the current “parking lane” would prove too big of a benefit as a transit-only queue jump for the 34th light to get onto the bridge. Northbound, SDOT wants 2 lanes clear for incoming bridge traffic, or else they would not have the peak parking restrictions on this block.

    • Daniel says

      I live a few blocks off of 125th St. NE, and traffic there has gotten better since the road diet, because drivers largely no longer have to merge around cars waiting for left turns.

      While the road diet was controversial at the time, SDOT stood their ground, did it anyway, and was vindicated.

  10. Norman says

    “As can be seen from the photo above, the sidewalks in this area are not particularly wide given the volume of bus riders and passing pedestrians, who are also obstructed by large tree pits, utility poles, bike racks, and newspaper racks. ”

    Pretty simple solution: get rid of the large tree pits, bike racks, and newspaper racks.

    I often have to laugh at Seattle. The city council claim they want “pedestrian friendly” streets, then they plant large trees right in the middle of sidewalks. And they allow tables and chairs to block sidewalks, parked bicycles to block sidewalks, all sorts of advertising signs to block sidewalks, etc. This stupidity is really quite amusing, but not surprising.

    • Ryan on Summit says

      As someone who walks 3-5 miles in Seattle on average per day, I’d like to mention that the things you mention (trees, sidewalk seating, bikes) aren’t the thing that makes walking difficult. It’s badly timed signals, of which Fremont has many. At the intersection the 40 is turning from in the photo, there is a pedestrian signal for one lane of traffic, timed differently than the other lanes. This is the stupidity in Fremont, not sidewalk seating.

      • Lack Thereof says

        Agreed. Light timing that punishes pedestrians is the biggest obstacle that SDOT hands pedestrians. Not the trees.

      • says

        You can have some of these sidewalk things on some blocks, you just can’t put all of it on every block. I walk a lot in Fremont; sometimes tree boxes are in the way, but I’ve never found a newspaper box or bike rack to be in the way. I often find advertising signs and sidewalk cafes in the way, and I often find people standing outside bars and waiting for the bus to be in the way.

        So I think advertising signs, sidewalk cafes, and other sidewalk business elements should be limited in their placement. I’m not sure you can really avoid crowds of people outside businesses or at bus stops (quicker boarding would help with the bus stop crowds — they mostly stay out of the way until the bus comes, then line up to pay).

        As far as light timings go, the worst of them is at Fremont Ave/Fremont Way/39th, which is pretty much a giant middle finger to pedestrians. I don’t think 35th is that bad considering the large volume of traffic going between Leary and the Fremont Bridge.

      • aw says

        Bus bulbs can help with the crowds waiting for buses, giving them more space to wait out of the traffic stream. It doesn’t help with the clueless people who just stand in the way.

    • Tim Willis says

      Have to agree with Norman here. One such instance that particularly irks me is the sidewalk cafe in front of Spinasse on the west side of 14th between Pike and Pine. The cafe takes up almost all of the sidewalk ROW and pedestrians are forced onto the unevenly paved parking strip. I would hate to be in a wheelchair on that.

      • Nathanael says

        Sidewalk cafes can be really abusive. They’re often operated illegally, mind you.

        Street trees are usually designed to provide a buffer between pedestrians and the road. Sidewalk cafes do the opposite, pushing pedestrians towards the road.

      • Brad says

        I hate to agree with Norman too, but I actually do find trees often do block sidewalks. Pine St. on Capitol Hill has quite a few trees where it takes up almost the entire sidewalk. Such a busy pedestrian street, and peds get one foot while the tree gets 4 feet of sidewalk cutout for it’s roots. Fer chrissakes, trees regrow – take it out and plant a smaller tree.

      • Tim Willis says

        Norman I think we should start a group advocating for better pedestrian experiences in Seattle. When is our first meetup?

      • Norman says

        You don’t need “meetups” to advocate for anything. Just attend community council meetings.

        And just to clarify a bit, it was Bruce Nourish who wrote: “the sidewalks in this area are not particularly wide given the volume of bus riders and passing pedestrians, who are also obstructed by large tree pits, utility poles, bike racks, and newspaper racks.”

        I merely suggested removing the “obstructions” listed by Nourish (with the exception of utility poles, which don’t take up that much room, and would be extremely expensive to remove which usually requires putting wires underground).

        To Nourish’s list, I added tables and chairs, and advertising signs, but I would also make it illegal to tie up dogs on sidewalks, where they often block fairly wide swaths of sidewalks.

        If you want “walkable” neighborhoods, remove the obstacles from sidewalks.

        Duh.

      • Mike Orr says

        Removing trees removes the lungs of the city, which create oxygen, freshen the air, sequester carbon, and are part of the plant/wildlife ecosystem. Plus they’re aesthetically pleasing and give urbanites a rooting in nature. San Francisco has many streets with concreted-over front yards and treeless sidewalks, and it makes the areas feel dead and sterile. So there may be a few trees we have to remove, but not all of them please.

      • says

        @Mike: Yeah, absolutely — remove the few trees that are really in the way of major pedestrian routes and leave most of them.

        As for San Francisco and trees, San Francisco is not Seattle. In neither city is the grass typical of suburban front yards native, but in Seattle it readily grows, while San Francisco doesn’t have consistent enough rain for that; Kentucky bluegrass grows in California only with considerable use of outside water. Much of Seattle was forest before it was built over. Much of San Francisco was sand dunes (either bare or covered only with shrubs; this is still in evidence in some places). Golden Gate Park has trees, but they’re younger than the park — the builders of the park built up what grows there through a long succession of plants and some of the plants require irrigation still.

        Much of San Francisco does appear dead or barren. But it did before people got there, too. That’s why they built Golden Gate Park the way they did, and tried to plant trees where they could. If Seattle came to look that way we could blame builders, but that isn’t true there.

      • Charles says

        Vancouver BC had great tree boxes with high quality grates with a spongy green like substance. Good traction, feels comfortable to walk on. Integrates the tree into the walk path.

      • Orv says

        Mike: Technically, once a tree is fully grown its usefulness as a carbon sink is done. To have more benefit you’d have to cut it down, do something with it other than burning it or letting it rot, and plant a new one.

      • Lack Thereof says

        Keep the trees. A full canopy over the sidewalk and street is super nice, improves the pedestrian experience, and is a goal of SDOT. Tree trunks are narrow and don’t take up much room, and the sidewalk holes for them can be minimized with metal grates (severely underused in this city)

        Sandwich boards are extra annoying, they should only be allowed directly upstream or downstream of tree trunks and/or utility poles. From a safety perspective they are a big trip & fall hazard due to their low height

      • Mike Orr says

        “once a tree is fully grown its usefulness as a carbon sink is done”

        How can that be true when trees grow rings every year unless they’re dead?

      • Anandakos says

        Stormy,

        No, not “Duh.” Just as when you bloviate about East Hill transit access and then extrapolate those observations to the entire system, you’re assuming that everyone who uses the sidewalks does so in the same ways you do. Some people are sauntering, window-shopping, or just daydreaming. Somehow I don’t see you in those groups.

        As Ryan on Summit points out “pedestrian friendly” in this context does not mean “obstacle free” (although it certainly means “barrier free”). It means “welcoming”. Street cafes that push people toward the street are obstacles; two of the things you added to Bruce’s list are obstacles (advertising signs and parked bicycles). The city could be more aggressive in regulating the cafes and signs, but the parked bicycles are just human rudeness.

        Try not to be such a knee-jerk contrarian all the time. You might find comity pleasant.

    • Orv says

      Tree boxes definitely are an example of favoring looks over usefulness. I often find myself having to dodge around trees on the street side of the sidewalk in the U district, to get around groups of people walking side by side, and the sidewalks there aren’t particularly narrow.

  11. GuyOnBeaconHill says

    A Historical Perspective of Traffic Over the Fremont Bridge

    On an average day in September 1925, the Fremont Bridge carried
    *1,396 streetcars carrying 38,323 passengers,
    *20,978 passenger autos with 34,453 passengers,
    *3,494 trucks with 4,192 passengers,
    *834 pedestrians,
    *172 motorcycles,
    *16 teams (horses) and
    *100 stages (buses) with 1,395 passengers.

    Source: Seattle Municipal Street Railway Annual Report (available at Seattle Public Library)

    • RapidRider says

      Something seems a little goofy with the streetcar count. Assuming a 20 hour streetcar day, both directions, that would mean that in a given direction, you would have a streetcar coming less than every two minutes. That is more frequent than the Tokyo Subway!

      • GuyOnBeaconHill says

        If you look at historical pictures of the Fremont Bridge you’ll see long lines of streetcars waiting to cross the bridge. Also, there was a streetcar carbarn next to the bridge, which undoubtedly inflated the streetcar count. And in 1925 the Aurora Bridge was still a dream on someone’s weblog.

      • RapidRider says

        Good point on the carbarn. Now if we could only convince Metro to bring service levels back up to the levels they were in 1925! :)

      • Anandakos says

        It’s also five lines gathered right at the intersection (Third NW, Fremont/Interurban, the Green Lake Loop and Wallingford/Latone. But most important, it’s single car “trains” of tiny cars, not Tokyo subway trains.

  12. David Seater says

    Glad I’m not the only one who thought this block could use some easy improvements that would have major benefits. If they could get rid of that stupid utility pole in front of Tawon Thai it would be really helpful. When a 40′ bus stops right at the bus stop sign, the rear doors are EXACTLY aligned with the pole. Makes it a little awkward to deboard.

    • Justin says

      YES YES YES! This pole, btw, will often cause the rear doors to refuse to close if/when they make contact with the pole upon opening. I’ve been on several buses that have run into this problem over the years and fixing it requires turing the bus off, driving getting out, monkeying with the door, and usually adds a delay of at least 5 minutes. On a few occasions, the driver was unable (or didn’t know how) to fix the problem, and the whole bus had to be emptied and wait for the next bus! Get rid of that useless and problem-causing pole.

      • David L says

        I forgot about that stupid thing! I ran a Gillig door into it on the 26 one morning years ago. I got the door closed, but messing around with it delayed me at least five minutes.

    • Andrew says

      One time I as on the bus and the driver opened the door and it got stuck on that pole… We were stuck like 5-10 minutes trying to get the door to close properly! Geez! Was very frustrating. ehh.

  13. Tim Willis says

    This is a great common sense proposal Bruce. I wasn’t particularly passionate about this kind of thing, but after riding the 29 outbound last night and passing all the traffic at Denny/1st and then jumping the queue, I’m a fan.

  14. Gordon Werner says

    There is a similar problem on the NB 49 on 10th Ave & Miller Street.

    The Bus stop is on the N side of the intersection (where Metro likes stops) however, right after the stop there are 3-4 parking spaces.

    The buses have to go from the curb lane, around the 3-4 parked cars just to get back to the curb lane where 10th Ave crosses over 520 in order to safely turn left onto Roanoke.

    If those parking spots were removed (or swapped with the bus stop) then the bus would be free to leave the stop and continue downhill without having to wait for the incessant parade of cars that rarely yields the right of way.

    If they don’t want to remove the precious parking spots than at least they should build out the curb bulb so the bus doesn’t have to fight traffic.

  15. Ambarish says

    Hear, hear! I commute to/from Fremont everyday on the 32, and every suggestion is spot-on. How can I make my voice heard? Given that the powers-that-be at Metro read STB, would it still help to send (friendly) email to Metro?

    • Bruce Nourish says

      For completeness, I should mention that I asked Metro and SDOT about these problems.

      SDOT is aware of the problems, but has no specific plans they could discuss yet. The Metro facilities person responsible for this area replied “No, we have not recently evaluated the length of these bus zones with Seattle but your observations are well taken and we will review this with SDOT soon after the new year.”

      So staff at both agencies appear to be aware of it now, but there’s no one email address I can suggest you deluge with complaints. Staff do read these comments, though.

      As always, there’s certainly no reason why you can’t email your favorite city/council member about this issue.

  16. Steady says

    Driving the 32 daily I have to only partially agree with this proposal. The passenger load zone and commercial load zone on SB Fremont & 34th need to go. The spaces before them I can live with without difficulty. The queue jump would be nice if it weren’t for bicycles triggering it like happens at other intersections which leave us stranded after the bikes have gone through and we reach the intersection just in time for the herd of other traffic. This often costs us a complete light cycle. NB on Fremont I would like a slightly longer zone to accommodate a 40 foot and an artic at the same time with bike racks in use. I would very greatly prefer that the last two parking spots before the turn east onto 35th STAY. They make it much safer to make the acute turn onto 35th without worrying about the pole and the oncoming westbound 35th traffic. In heavy traffic its actually much more dangerous for those spots to be open.

    • David L says

      Northbound… With the parking spots there or gone, either way, you have to move left to set up for the sharp turn onto 35th. If the parking spots are open, you can still set up such that you are just far enough into the right lane for people not to try to pass you on the right, and easily make the turn in either a 40′ or 60′ coach. I’m not sure I see the advantage of keeping the parking spots.

      • Steady says

        Poorly behaved/speeding cars can make it very difficult to do an angled setup and just this morning a smart car tried to get into the small space left between me and the curb at that corner. I stand by wanting to keep those spaces filled.

    • says

      “The queue jump would be nice if it weren’t for bicycles triggering it…”

      Some of the loop detectors at South Bellevue P&R, specifically the SB left turn lane entering the P&R, are setup with multiple loop detectors that, in theory, only detect a bus. Having a separate marker/detector for bikes would be advisable.

    • says

      Most intersections I know of with bus queue jumps aren’t major cycling routes. At Fremont and 34th (southbound) the right-most lane is used by buses and bikes going straight and cars turning right (none of which are wrong to be there). Of course, preventing cars and bikes from triggering the signal doesn’t help the buses behind them get through any faster. We’d really need a queue jump signal that stays green long enough for the bus to get through, right?

      • Anandakos says

        The way to have proper queue jumps is not by loops or the skinny electric eyes. They can both the fooled.

        The way to do it is with coded carrier control over WiFi — well, really a private WiMax network. The signals and buses each have strong antennas which communicate bus stats to the signal (it’s GPS location, length and speed) and the signal’s intentions to the bus for display to the driver. That way the signal can be triggered by a bus behind a few bicycles AND be programmed to hold until the tail end of the bus has cleared half the intersection before allowing the traffic to proceed.

        If the signal has received an emergency vehicle override request it would relay that to the bus.

        Now I don’t know if such a system exists, but it would be vastly preferable to any of the existing systems, including the static period “block pre-clearance” used by LRT’s.

  17. RossB says

    This isn’t as important an issue, but I would also get rid of a couple of the parking spots along the north side of 34th, east of Fremont Avenue. This is a major bike way for folks going across the Fremont Bridge. Basically, they leave the Burke Gilman (or come from Stone Way) and head over the Fremont Bridge on the bike lane of 34th. For most of that route, the right lane is just a parking lane. But as you come close to the intersection, anyone going straight or to the right needs to cross over the bike lane (which at this point is bright green) to get into the right lane. This is fine when there isn’t much traffic. But things usually build up during rush hour (since someone turning right has to wait for pedestrians and folks going straight or right have to share the same lane). The result is that the lane gets clogged until it backs up against parking spots. Some drivers (myself included) try and do the right thing, which involves putting on your signal, but staying in the middle lane until there is space to move. Unfortunately, some people just slide into the bike lane, thus blocking it. Compared to the usual things bikers have to deal with (like the fear of death) it is probably a minor inconvenience. Still, I think it is a mistake that so many spots are allocated. At a minimum, I would eliminate a couple during rush hour.

  18. Elizabeth W says

    And, oh, please, can SDOT do something to make it easier for drivers turning East (right) from Fremont onto 34th to see passengers heading North from the SE corner of that intersection? I can typically make myself visible when heading South from the ‘Waiting for the Interurban’ statue to the SE corner, but the other way is hellacious. I am regularly nearly killed by evening rush-hour drivers there. They don’t look and don’t care. The sweeping curve and nearly worn-out crosswalk paint apparently tell them it’s all theirs.

    • Elizabeth W says

      Should have clarified — that’s the drivers coming North over the bridge and turning East onto 34th.

    • Elizabeth W says

      Brain dead tonight. passengers -> pedestrians, though arguably I only walk that way to be a bus passenger.

    • Will Green says

      +1

      Walking southbound isn’t as bad as you can see the car coming, and the driver can see you – if they’re looking.

      Northbound, the barrier on the side of the bridge blocks visibility until you’re right at the intersection, and the curb radius there is such that drivers are encouraged to go fast. In my experience the intersection also lines up in such a way that a vehicle’s A-post blocks visibility of the southern curb until you’re in the turn itself, when it’s too late to stop.

      A great example, really, of how something can look great on paper and meet all the engineering guidelines, but fail at actually being well designed, or safe.

      • d.p. says

        A great example, really, of how something can look great on paper and meet all the engineering guidelines, but fail at actually being well designed, or safe.

        But in Seattle, we only do things on paper.

        Thus the jaywalking enforcement, the draconian helmet laws, the 4.5-minute “optimized throughput” light in the middle of RapidRide, and the habitual decades of planning for mediocre outcomes.

  19. Eric says

    I use that stop regularly and agree the southbound parking needs to go. The back door of an articulated bus usually ends up a few feet from the curb when stopping if there are cars parked there.

    With regard to the northbound stop, expanding the bus zone would block the alley that runs between Tawon Thai and the Pho place. While I would love to see this stop be large enough to accommodate two buses even when one is 60′ long, I would think there would be SDOT and/or Metro policies in place to prevent a bus zone from overlapping an alley. Does anyone know?

    • David L says

      The key thing is to keep buses from blocking the alley. There are occasionally alleys or driveways in the middle of bus zones (e.g., 3rd/Union NB), but in all cases the bus zones are set up to allow buses to stop without blocking the alley or driveway. That shouldn’t be a problem at 34th/Fremont NB. I think one 60′ bus could fit in front of the alley with enough room to pull out and make the right turn onto 35th (this would be just like the right turn at 61st/Alki). Another 60′ or two 40′ buses could fit behind the alley.

  20. JohnS says

    instead, with the added benefits of being better for the tree roots and helping with runoff. When properly maintained with small gravel they work nicely. I am far more annoyed with lack of enforcement on sandwich boards.

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