1. John A. Bailo says

    In the redesign it seemed like there were not many pedestrians, so perhaps what they did is remove the 30 to 60s delay of the walk lights and replaced it with the 5 to 10s time it takes a person to cross the lane.

    Essentially making the roads free flowing highways running at low speed. Given they are going slow, allowing a person to pass between cars adds almost no additional cost to drivers.

    I see this when I ride my bicycle on the trails and there is a light crossing. On the one hand traffic moves so fast I prefer to use the light. On the other hand it takes me 3 to 5s to ride across and then drivers sit there waiting for an additional 30s.

    Maybe at crossings with one or two pedestrians we could tune existing crossings for much shorter times, like 5s, with a Long Button for the mobility challenged (or use visual sensors to switch the light when the crosswalk is empty).

    I do like the road diet. I keep wondering if we could trim Kent Kangley down to maybe even just single lanes in each direction with the right design…

      • John A. Bailo says

        Actually I find those dangerous. There is one of those at an Interurban crossing in Auburn near the Supermall.

        It is supremely confusing. You hit the crossing light, and a loud voice comes on that says “Warning, Motorists may not stop at light” because apparently it is optional. Worse it is two lanes either direction and with today’s high riding SUVs it is often impossible to see the far lane. So one vehicle could be stopped and another that you can’t see barreling along at full speed!

        I can see why they brought this system down to single lanes for that reason!

  2. Sam says

    Good article in yesterday’s NYT about tall residential buildings, with rents commonly $10,000 to $25,000 a month, and condo prices $25 to $40 million dollars. Makes me glad we didn’t manhattanize SLU.

    • says

      Yes, if we “manhattanized” SLU by turning it into the financial capital of the world we’d end up with some spectacularly expensive condos.

      • Sam says

        Al, the point is, increasing residential building heights isn’t the panacea that some claim. It won’t cure anything. In fact, it will do more harm than good. Sure, we wouldn’t have $40 million dollar condos, but they would still be building’s available only to Seattle’s 1%. It’s relative. And these taller buildings in Seattle would create a housing apartheid, which would then spread like a cancer to smaller buildings in the area, pushing lower income people further and further out.

      • says

        *Slow clap*

        Since the dawn of trolling, man has pondered the great questions of existence. For instance: is it possible to Godwin your own thread without actually, you know, mentioning the Nazis? Today Sam has provided vital insight into this question, and we, humble citizens of Internet, are eternally grateful.

      • John A. Bailo says

        Yes but the high rents, if curtailed in the local economy, bring capital to the region and create jobs (I think..or maybe it just gets funneled to Delaware..who knows…you tell me…)

      • Matthew Butler says

        I’m sometimes so confounded by Sam’s comments that I wonder if he is in fact some kind of parody account designed to invoke the incredulity of all those who have the unfortunate displeasure of reading his grossly absurd commentary.

    • barman says

      ‘Manhattanization’ is hyperbole no matter how you slice it. SLU is about 1/25th the size of lower Manhattan. You cannot possibly compare a few high-rises in SLU to anything resembling Manhattan. If you do, your argument instantly loses.

      • Sam says

        No more hyperbolic than saying tall buildings will solve all the world’s problems.

      • Ian Barrere says

        Nobody is saying that building tall buildings will solve all the world’s problems, but promoting walkability in our cities certainly does improve overall quality of life.

    • Sam says

      Matthew, even though english is my sixth language, I think I caught a mistake in your comment. You used the word invoke when I think you meant to use the word provoke.

      • Cinesea says

        I still say that if building heights rose in SLU to what the developers want, they will build condos/apartments that are still out of the reach of regular Seattle-ites. Even now, when I get the email from SLU about the neighborhood, they show rents at these new developments at $1500-$1800 month. Still, not everyone wants or needs a shiny new apartment with a double sink in the kitchen and a jacuzzi-tub in the bathroom and granite counters everywhere. Or a third-floor exercise room. The things that push the costs/rents up so high are many things that ordinary people can live without–and do so quite easily in apartments in Shoreline, Edmonds, Renton, etc…but how many of them would prefer to live in the central city?

  3. Brent says

    This principle of slowing down cars, rather than signalizing, has worked nicely between Beacon Hill Station and the Red Apple. I pray they don’t signalize the intersections in the name of protecting pedestrians.

    Put a crosswalk mid-block, behind the southbound buses (with the stop moved forward), and all will be perfect. Oh, and throw in some flashing asphalt-level lights for good measure. Perhaps even connect the signaler to a light in front of the southbound bus stop to let the driver know someone is crossing, and glance back to see if they are trying to catch the bus.

  4. John A. Bailo says

    Speaking of coal trains…how about garbage scow trains?

    While taking a bike ride on the Interurban I stopped off at the Auburn Station Bistro. I dined al fresco on a club sandwich.

    All was fine until a garbage train got hauled through and clouded the whole plaza in a miasma of filthy air that smelled like landfill.

    As flies buzzed around, I left the plaza and continued back to Kent but the stench was all along the trail for a mile or so!!

  5. asdf says

    The Poynton intersection seems very similar to 50th St. and Stone Way, right here in Seattle. I’m not sure if a similar scheme would work there or not, but it sure makes one think.

  6. J. Reddoch says

    I wish I could complain about crossing four lanes of traffic (instead of the six to seven).

  7. SR Das says

    Hello. Now that I have a laptop, I would like to share some of my ideas for new routes–in the form of maps I created in InkScape. Here’s a fictional RapidRide line that I pitched last year, and here it is in map form.

    Map 1
    Map 2
    Map 3

    Yes, I know about the whole “Tunnel” issue, but let’s make the most of it in its numbered years!

    • aw says

      So why does West Seattle need or deserve a second RapidRide route? And for someone who is mostly ignorant about the geography of West Seattle, how far is 35th Ave SW from the route of RR-C?

      • says

        This route is essentially the 21, except that it goes through the tunnel downtown instead of taking 3rd with a through-route (currently the 5 most of the time). The 21, unlike the C Line, covers SODO; within West Seattle, the 21 and C Line share some stops through Alaska where the C Line heads west toward Alaska Junction. From there to Morgan Junction they’re only a (fairly hilly) half-mile apart, then they separate a little more, maybe 3/4 of a quite hilly mile apart at most before joining back up at Westwood.

        I’ve heard more about the 120 as a target for improvements and investments than the 21.

    • David L says

      Yes, focus on the 120 first. It has nearly twice the ridership of the 21 and also has less overlap with RR C.

      The 120 is one of two or three really good candidates for the next RapidRide route.

      West Seattle is also not well positioned to gain from tunnel service. If more tunnel routes are added, they should be either north end I-5 routes or I-90 routes, because those are the corridors where the time savings the tunnel offers are the greatest. By contrast, West Seattle would lose what it gained from the tunnel mucking around in Sodo, and then some.

    • David L says

      The other issue you’re going to face is horrible game day unreliability. That is why the West Seattle-Sodo buses were moved off of 1st Avenue in the first place, even though it was a superior routing at non-game times.

      • SR Das says

        True, but still my logic for using 1st is as follows:

        1. Otherwise, it leaves no service on 1st north of Lander.

        2. Last inbound stop before entering the tunnel is Holgate Street (unfair for stadium-goers).

    • asdf says

      There’s a great roundabout in Redmond that just got built, which I travel through every day on my commute home from work:,+WA&hl=en&ll=47.638336,-122.134696&spn=0.00176,0.004128&sll=47.272986,-120.882277&sspn=7.261467,16.907959&oq=redm&t=h&hnear=Redmond,+King,+Washington&z=19

      I have found drivers to very good here at stopping for pedestrians.

      Incidentally, while I don’t ride it, the B-line passes through this roundabout too, thanks to the 152nd St. deviation…

    • LWC says

      There was an excellent community-proposed neighborhood project fund application in the Delridge district this past winter: they proposed a roundabout at Highland Park SW and SW Holden St. I really hope this happens: it would be a huge improvement over the current configuration.

    • says

      I’m not a big fan of roundabouts and similar arrangements in places where there’s a mixture of pedestrians and arterial automotive traffic. On market streets and residential streets speeds are slow enough that even cars can be brought into the social realm in limited numbers, and drivers can communicate right-of-way with other users in natural ways. But if the road is kept at arterial width and the approaches are at arterial speeds it takes a pretty assertive pedestrian to step out in traffic.

      Last I heard there was a roundabout planned at 92nd Ave NE and Points Drive, just north of the 520 interchange. People in the area oppose it because they think it won’t be safe for kids to walk through. Given the proximity to 520, car traffic will dominate and be in arterial driving mode, so I’m inclined to agree. I’m picturing Lake Washington Boulevard through the Arboretum as a point of comparison, where cut-through traffic from 520 tramples every other use of what should be a park road.

      There’s a “Monderman” school of road design that people often take to mean removal of signs, markings, and signals and free mixture and movement at intersections. But this is only the case where there is a pedestrian realm, a center square, a sense of place, somewhere you wouldn’t blow through in a car, where this is obvious from the way it looks. I think the real truth of Monderman is that drivers obey many cues better than signs and signals, and that designers have to use these cues to control traffic.

      • David L says

        Al, everything you’re saying is spot on, but I want to make sure blame is correctly assessed for the Lake Washington Boulevard problem. It’s not just a matter of 520, although 520 doesn’t help. There is also a huge amount of cut-through traffic from Montlake to Madison Park, which uses the road because the residents of Broadmoor would not permit any sort of traffic (even bike or pedestrian traffic) through their gated enclave. There is really no other sane way to reach Madison Park from any point in the northeast.

      • says

        I agree. I am very skeptical that roundabouts as they have been implemented recently in suburban Washington state are an improvement for peds or bicycles. There are installed on roads where fast drivers already dominate, and the addition of the roundabout causes maximum driver focus on the curving and merging required to get through. Seeing/responding to peds or bikes is one distraction too many when trying to merge into a lane while curving, to avoid ending up on the wrong road.

      • asdf says

        To be clear about 92nd Ave. and Points Drive, neither of the two streets involved are, in any way arterials. Speeds are already pretty low on 92nd Ave, and the on/off-ramps in the area are pretty limited. There is no westbound on-ramp or eastbound off-ramp at 92nd at all. There is an eastbound on-ramp, but most of the drivers using it will be coming from the south and not pass through the roundabout. Only the westbound off-ramp will make the roundabout a primary car path to access the neighborhood, but, again, from what I can see, speeds will be pretty low.

        I agree here that for roundabouts, limiting the road width is key – trying to do it with multiple lanes of traffic is quite dangerous. However, this example here is just a single lane of traffic.

      • brick says

        Planners I’ve spoken to in Cambridge (England) indicate roundabouts are falling out of style mainly due to the natural conflicts they create for cyclists (when confronting motorists). New developments in and around Cambridge requiring new road works are almost exclusively using standard signaled intersections at larger junctions.

        Poynton is an example of the results of poor planning or simply unfortunate development patterns. The road in question (its “main street”) never should have become the major thoroughfare it did. But instead of routing commuter traffic around the centers of villages and towns, capacity on existing roads was simply expanded. There are plenty of examples in which a centuries-old village began with a small street running through it and which, over time, became situated on the straightest line between two other major population centers.

        I’d really be interested in hearing how traffic volume was affected by this change. (I didn’t hear it mentioned, except for the anecdote of the local worker who said her commute was shorter.) I would put money on it having reduced quite a bit. You can see (in a few of the shots, of a few frames) a long line of cars waiting to enter the roundabout — I imagine rush hour for thru-commuters is hell. IF volume on this road reduced, it means it went somewhere else.

        It’s an interesting example, though, of placing higher value in things other than speed and throughput (for cars…the whole road diet thing). The video addressed the positive social aspects of the change and the benefits for pedestrians and disabled persons, and I don’t doubt it was the right thing for the town to do. I’m just really curious about what the effects were to the outlying areas (in terms of increased traffic).

    • archie says

      Bellevue and Olive.
      As long as there are single-lane approaches from every direction and clear pedestrian crossings at the newly-narrowed necks, I think this could transform the area. It’s a dangerous shit show today.

  8. Lack Thereof says

    Hey, I know there’s a few Metro Operators that hang out here, maybe one of them can answer some questions? I’m seriously considering applying. The Metro employees I meet at my current job have been trying to talk me into it, and it sounds like a pretty decent deal if you can survive the first couple of years and build some senority. So surviving the first few years without starving or getting evicted is my main concern.

    You’re guaranteed is 12.5 hours/week, right? What’s the odds of getting more than the minimum on your first pick? Any chance of getting close to 20 hours?

    • asdf says

      I’m curious if the newbie drivers end up getting stuck with late-night shifts on routes like the 82, 124, and 7? The combination of the awful hours with all the drunk people boarding the bus after the 2 AM curfew must make this a pretty undesirable shift. Unless, of course, drivers who work such shifts get paid more to make up for it.

      • David L says

        New operators start out part-time and usually get assigned to short, but harmless, commuter service. The people who typically draw the awful work are newly minted full-time operators. I’m not sure how long it’s taking to go full-time now, but it took me a little under two years.

        The last stuff to go is typically either A-runs (starting late morning, ending after PM peak) or late relief runs on out of Atlantic/Central/Ryerson, which are the lowest-seniority bases. With the notable exception of the 7/49, what gets assigned last has more to do with people’s schedules than with the routes operated, although the noobs won’t ever get the really easy stuff.

    • David L says

      I loved it, but I drove from 2000 to 2005 so my experience was different from today.

      The minimum is 2:20/day, for a total of 11:40/week. You may get more than the minimum out of training, but you will pick the minimum or something close to it for the first couple picks. You won’t pick 4 hours/day for quite awhile (I never did as a part-timer). You can always make more money by signing up for the additional tripper list and qualifying for all of the routes at your picked base (and, once qualified, driving additional trippers when assigned). As a part-timer, I picked every base in the system (except South, which was my first full-time base), and qualified on all the routes at each one. At bases with a lot of commuter routes like East and South, qualifying can really help.

      I had another part-time job (weekends only) for my first year, and I strongly recommend that to anyone. Surviving on 11:40/week is not going to be easy.

      I have no idea how long it is taking part-timers to go full-time these days. For me, it was just under two years.

    • Kyle S. says

      You mean Metrorail, not Metrolink.

      I wonder if they stuck with the same colors yet again due to physical rollsigns, or if they determined that adding more colors to the map would be too confusing.

      Similarly, the NYC subway re-uses the (5) symbol for rush-hour service to Nereid Ave in the Bronx. This wasn’t always the case; when I lived in New York, this service used to be denoted <5>, which seems much clearer to me. Not sure why they changed it.

    • asdf says

      Ok – why are King County Metro buses getting sold on eBay in Minnesota? The notion of bus drivers stealing away their bus sounds extremely funny.

      • David L says

        Buy bus where there is a glut of used transit buses, sell where there is a scarcity. At least that’s what the seller is trying to do.

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