We often talk about Seattle’s inability to act – we spend a long time talking, we can’t agree on the best course of action, an infrastructure project in one part of the city often elicits a “what does it do for me?” attitude from others. I think this happens for two reasons.

First, we’re very educated. Seattle consistently ranks near the top of the list, just over half of over-25s in the city have bachelor’s degrees. We all have our own ideas for how things should be done, and enough confidence in our own abilities to be a little dangerous.

Second, though, it’s horribly difficult to get around. Live around 25th in Ravenna, want to go to Ballard? You’ll be sitting in the same traffic as everyone coming from the U-district, and once you’re there, good luck finding parking. The bus? Sure, the 71 runs pretty often, and if you stand at the corner of 65th you can watch both ways for a 372 or 68, but then you have to transfer to the agonizingly slow 44. And this is probably one of the easier neighborhood to neighborhood trips in the city – try getting to the Madison Valley from anywhere north of the ship canal at rush hour.

It seems like a nitpicky, minor barrier to travel, but it does significantly affect where people are willing to spend their time – and what neighborhoods they’re exposed to. I think a lot of the city simply isn’t aware of what’s over the next hill because they never really have a reason to go there. We often don’t know about big chunks of our own city. This came through in a recent comment from Jason:

“Favorite quote of the day (from an older woman who clearly doesn’t spend much time in the city proper): ‘Oooooh, so THIS is where SoDo is! I always wondered.'”

This is part of why I really don’t mind street level rail, and it’s one of the things that excites me most about Link. On Monday, people commuting into Seattle are going to see places they’ve never been before, and a bunch of them are going to think “I should come check this out next weekend”. Nobody driving up I-5 is thinking “Gosh, SoDo looks really fun, I should come back there!”

This will take time. A lot of time. The approach to Othello Station from the south, for instance, is desolate – but that will start changing with the coming development I mentioned yesterday, and the north end of the station already has quite a bit of cool stuff (including Tammy’s Bakery, a fantastic Vietnamese bakery). When people find these businesses, they will come back, they will talk about that neighborhood, and a section of Seattle that’s been largely ignored will start being part of the city again.

I think we’re seeing the beginning of Seattle’s reintegration as a single city. It will take more infrastructure, of course, but the Valley is a fantastic place to start.

80 Replies to “Balkanization and Light Rail”

  1. I completely agree. I have lived in Seattle my whole life but I can count the number of times I have been to some neighborhoods on two hands. For example why would anyone from Capitol Hill want to go to West Seattle? It is practically a different city. This week I’m going to take LINK down to the Rainier Valley with my coworkers. I’m sure this is going to be the first time some of them are down there.

  2. Great post Ben. I live in Mount Baker and know very very little about Othello, for example. The light rail will surely help us learn about the city around us.

    Something I enjoyed seeing yesterday was the dispersion of Seattle Sounders fans, with all their scarves and green shirts. They were like dye poured into a river to track dispersion. You could see that, from the stadium station, they spread far and wide across the light rail network. We had lunch at Serious Pie near Westlake and were surrounded by Sounders fans. Before the light rail I don’t think this would have been the case.

  3. So then would you say/admit that Central Link was designed mostly as a tool to reinvigortate the Rainier Valley? And if that’s true, wouldn’t it also be true to say that Central Link is a political route? Why do pro-rail people have a hard time just admitting that?

    1. well sam, we won’t commit to that because i know i care about my convinience. i can’t wait to have the station near my home at 45th and brooklyn so i can take a train to the airport. (much better than finding someone to take me, or being stupid and driving myself)

    2. The chosen route is the quickest one that actually comes near to where people in South Seattle live. Sure, it promotes good development. But it *also* moves people from place to place. By contrast, highways promoted bad development that cut this city into isolated neighborhoods and began killing them one by one. A direct train route that avoided neighborhoods and simply traced the quickest path from downtown to the airport would have moved fewer people and done nothing to reverse the damage inflicted by decades of car-oriented development.

      1. Eastlink goes through neighborhoods with the highest concentration of uses on the eastside as well as the the largest redevelopment area that LINK will go through.

        This blog is a place for informed, reality based discussions. Please stop posting completely factually false and snide comments. No one take you seriously.

      2. I’m not posting, I’m commenting. As someone who has posting privileges, I’m surprised you don’t know the difference.

      3. It is fairly standard online message board usage to refer to “commenting” as “posting” or “posting comments” or “posting messages,” dating back to the old BBS days. BBS = “Bulletin Board System,” and how do you put messages on a bulletin board? You post them.

      4. There are denser neighborhoods on the Eastside? Outside of the downtown areas Bellevue and Redmond are quite sprawly.

      5. the Eastside city with the highest residential density is Kirkland (e.g. downtown, Juanita, and Totem Lake). There is significant empty space and lawn in Bellevue. The Bel-Red corridor has no residences today.

      6. That’s overall residential density, which doesn’t matter much. All that says is Kirkland has a few more housing units per acre than Bellevue does, spread across the whole city. All that really means is that a lot of Bellevue is very low density.

        What matters here is node density – and Bellevue’s got a dense downtown, and are rezoning bel-red to be high density mixed use as well.

        The empty space and lawn in Bellevue isn’t in the bel-red corridor or downtown, where the train is going.

      7. Such as? Where should East Link go to pass through denser neighborhoods? Mind you it passes through downtown Bellevue which is the densest area of the Eastside and the two largest job centers (downtown Bellevue again and Overlake).

      8. It just amazes me how inconsistent many of you are in your logic. You talk about the obviousness of routing Central Link through the Rainier Valley because “that’s where the people are,” and bypassing most of Boeing, a major employment center. But then you flip-flop when it comes to East Link, saying it SHOULD bypass where the people are (crossroads), and instead be routed to Microsoft. Is that because some of you work there?

      9. Do you seriously think Boeing field, as a whole, is a good transit market?

      10. And, Sam if you do think this, please cite evidence of untapped transit usage along East Marginal Way for authoritative sources.

      11. At this point just a handful of Boeing’s Puget Sound area employees work at Boeing field, at that they are spread out over a couple of miles of warehouses, factories, hangars, and offices. If there was such a huge untapped transit market at Boeing Field why didn’t Sound Transit build the at least the link portion of the Boeing Access Road station?

        Overlake and the entire Duwamish Valley have roughly the same employment. However the jobs in Overlake are in a much more concentrated area whereas those in the Duwamish Valley spread out over a large area. Even so the Northern and denser part of the Duwamish Industrial area is served by two Link stations (Stadium and Sodo). If those stations happen to not be convenient there is frequent bus service all day along busway from Spokane street to Stadium station.

        East Link is serving the two largest concentrations of employment on the Eastside, it is also serving one of the densest residential areas (Downtown Bellevue) and is planned for another fairly dense residential area (Downtown Redmond).

        But suppose Link did serve Crossroads? That routing would add several minutes to the travel time for anyone further out than Downtown Bellevue. In addition a surface or elevated alignment would have been the only practical options and I suspect there would have been more than a bit of opposition to running rail down the middle of NE 8th and 156th NE.

        Furthermore let us not forget that the Bel-Red Corridor and the Overlake Village area will be much denser residential neighborhoods than Crossroads if they are built out according to plan.

        As for running Central Link through the Duwamish industrial area instead of through Rainier Valley, it would have likely cost less and have been faster for those coming from South of Seattle, but it also would have had much lower ridership for and likely not qualified for Federal funding.

        So in that sense I guess you could say it is political. Similarly it means people aren’t going to wonder why Capitol Hill and NE Seattle are the only residential neighborhoods getting light rail.

      12. Sam, you may be just trolling but I’d like to remind everyone that you don’t have to take the “preferred alignment” sitting down! There have been multiple cases of public response changing SoundTransit’s plans, my favorite being the Roosevelt YIMFYs who got an underground station in the middle of their business district. If Crossroads is a better alignment, get people there motivated to lobby for it.

      13. Bellevue – Crossroads is an obvious high-density route (for Eastside standards of “density”), and that was the route for the 1960s subway that was never built. But Bel-Red Road is the shortest distance from Bellevue to Microsoft and Redmond. That leaves Crossroads out, but both routes leave Kirkland out. So it’s not a “good” route vs a “bad” route, but a tradeoff with arguments both ways.

        I’m personally uncomfortable with assuming that TOD will come to Bel-Red Road as planned. It’s just so un-Eastside. But somebody pointed out earlier that the best TOD is probably ahead of us as it becomes more accepted and necessary, and certainly it worked in Gresham, Surrey BC, and historically, where rail was put into open fields or growing towns to encourage developers to gravitate to there. Othello may also be a beneficiary of this effect, eventually.

      14. The Crossroads corridor is the one somewhat dense area on the Eastside that hasn’t been well planned for, now or in any Sound Transit planning I’ve seen.

        But the fact is, Seattle-Bellevue-Redmond is a more important corridor and connects East Link to the Central Link spine, and will itself be a spine that future north-south corridors build to on the Eastside. It would not have made sense to go to Crossroads first. The problem, of course, is that most people think of Bellevue-Eastgate-Issaquah or extensions north to Kirkland or south to Renton from downtown Bellevue as the next steps, and Crossroads doesn’t fit into either one. I imagine a good solution might be a streetcar between Eastgate and Overlake stations passing through the heart of Crossroads and running mostly along 156th.

      15. Another couple possibility would be a streetcar out NE 8th to 156th then North to Overlake Village. Ideally this would be built somewhat like the at grade section of Link on MLK rather than in-traffic like SLUT.

        In the interim NE 8th and 156th to Overlake is due to get a Rapid Ride route. Hopefully this will eventually be a full BRT line with exclusive lanes, signal priority, and off-board payment rather than the bus route with a fancy paint job Rapid Ride seems to be turning into.

    3. This 2001 Seattle Times story on why the MLK route was chosen was and still is interesting:

      Quote of opening:

      Distorted facts led to Rainier rail route
      By Susan Kelleher
      Seattle Times staff reporter

      The region’s top transit officials surrendered to political forces when they drew up plans for building light rail through South Seattle 10 years ago but continued producing reports leaving the impression that decisions were based on hard facts and immovable realities.
      In fact, their reports after 1992 distorted the options and the costs of building light rail in South Seattle and painted an inaccurate picture of the possibilities, which influenced the selection of Rainier Valley as the preferred route.

      1. All things are political – including reports in the Times, and anything written on Seattle Transit Blog. We, as social creatures lead a political life. Politics is the organized structuring of human social connections – from the intimate to the mass.

        It is possible that the MLK route was political, development oriented, social engineering, geographically practical, fact driven, historically driven, financially driven, etc. It’s impossible that is was driven by one dominant factor. Anyone who argues that is not looking at the process as a whole. All facts and reports are examined with the political values of the reader.

        In my opinion, the MLK alignment was a balanced choice. Perfect? No. But reasonable, and over time will stitch together the fabric of Seattle and suburban neighborhoods more tightly.

        Yesterday’s opening of Link was a see change for the Seattle/Tacoma region, for all the reasons Ben mentioned, and many more.

        Here’s to change! Salud!

      2. So, who died and made Susan Kelleher the boss? Because that’s all she’s saying. Thee is no definitive yardstick that quibblers can’t attack, composed of nothing but the facts, ma’am.

        That’s why we have political forces. Those “political forces” that right wingers love to paint in such gloomy shades are nothing other than the voters and the people they elect, otherwise known as democracy. I may not trust this or that elected official or the voters who elected them, but the world is full of evidence that even very poor democracies function a lot better than even the best dictatorships.

        And especially I don’t trust figures from John Niles or Susan Kelleher, because, while figures may not lie, some liars sure can figure.

      3. If you read between the lines of the obviously anti-rail author, the key point is that adding the cost of a 2.5mi tunnel under Boeing made the more direct route cost more than surface through the valley. Duh.

    4. Sam, what’s your point? What means to do you propose for route selection other than politics? Should a random selected person in Minneapolis decide, so that the routing isn’t sullied by the interests of anyone who lives here?

    5. Um. Of course it’s political. It’s always political when there are people involved, because different stakeholders want different things.

      Besides, it’s not like there’s The Golden Route and a criss-crossing of conspiracies knocked it off course here and there. There are always tradeoffs for planning *anything*, and they way the various options affect different groups of people are *always* part of the discussion and the solution.

      Shorter comment: Welcome to the planet Earth.

  4. As a carless Capitol Hiller, I can attest to this. I”ve been to Paris more often than I’ve been to West Seattle in the last five years.

    I hope you’re right about rail’s effect on the city, and that it extends to the region as a whole (esp. Eastside). I think this starter line has to build a broader coalition if rail is to survive expansion into denser areas north of the Ship canal. I’m hoping an ST3 has some sort of line connecting Ballard-downtown-West Seattle, for instance, and we’ll need a much stronger consensus to survive the invariable NIMBY and technical challanges of such a project, not to mention the cost, which would dwarf the costs of the initial line. Should be interesting to see how support changes (and hopefully grows) as ST2 is built out. The rail opponents still seem to have an outsized megaphone given the size of their loss last November.

    1. The good news is even this starter line should build quite a bit more support in the region for rail transit, especially in Seattle. Once U-Link opens in 2016 and North Link opens in 2020 that will be even more the case. Rising energy prices and worsening traffic congestion (not to mention more expensive parking) will do their part too.

      A very good sign is the one neighborhood along North Link in a position to opposed increased density around their station actually supports it. Maybe not to the delusional levels pushed by Mr. Sisely, but they did ask to redo their neighborhood plan with the idea of including denser zoning.

      If the voting was just in Seattle I have no doubt we could get the voters to pass a Ballard to West Seattle rail line even if the cost was around the same as Central Link+U-Link+North Link. The problem isn’t the voters it is getting the tax authority from the legislature, preferably something other than a sales tax. In an ideal world I’d call for a mix of congestion pricing/tolls, sales tax on gas, MVET, general property taxes, and LID/TIF for transit funding.

  5. This is a really good point. The typical discussion around transit is built around contrasts with driving, because that’s the default way of getting around for most people. On the surface, both driving and mass transit move people from place to place and so the debate is about which mode does a better job of moving people. But that similarity obscures the fundamental distinction between the modes: driving, and the highway and parking infrastructure a driving-only approach requires, divides people and places. Transit connects them.

    Just look at car-oriented development: its quintessential example is the parking lot. You have strip malls that present parking lots to the street, and the assumption that people are driving there means no thought of sidewalks. The more lots developed like that, the harder it is to walk anywhere. Even a single car-oriented development can cripple a neighborhood. Since highways let you move from place to place without going anywhere in between, people who give up on walking and drive quickly have no reason to go to any of those intermediate or out-of-the-way places.

    The quintessential transit-oriented development is a mixed-use development where people live, shop, and work. It’s true that architecturally and economically these developments are often uniform and aesthetically uninteresting, but even then they are developments that are fundamentally oriented to bringing all sorts of people together. One lot like that is enough to start drawing together a neighborhood. A system of developments like that linked by train is enough to draw together a city.

  6. Speaking of balkanization, some people along MLK view the line as a sort of Berlin Wall going through their neighborhood. I’m not saying that, they are.

    1. Just because a few people were quoted as saying that in the press doesn’t mean that the majority of people in the valley feel that way. If anything MLK is less of a divide now then it used to be. It’s safer and easier for pedestrians to cross then it was before they rebuilt it, and with Link the entire stretch now acts as a conduit into the city. Not being able to turn left into the McDonalds hardly constitutes a Berlin Wall. Exactly how many years do you plan on rehashing the same arguments, Sam? The route was decided over a decade ago, can we please move on now?

      1. A barrier is just as much perceptual as it is “real”. All that can be done is to wait and find out what happens. As the RV inhabitants grow accustomed to light rail then they decide whether LR is a barrier or not.

      2. While MLK was hardly the “wall” I-5 is it was at least a bit like Aurora, which DOES act like a barrier in North Seattle, before it was rebuilt for Link. In many sections it had no sidewalks and no signal controlled intersections for pedestrians, bikes, or cars to cross. Drivers sped along well in excess of the speed limit with no regard for any cross traffic.

        This weekend was the first time in 5 years I had been on MLK South of Rainier. I was amazed at what a transformation the just the street improvements alone have made. It is much more pedestrian friendly than it ever was in the past.

    2. Having seen the Western Sectors/Soviet Sector Berlin Wall (as well as its twins the Western Sectors Berlin/DDR border and the DDR/BRD border) in person many times prior to 1989, I can assure you that I-5 at NE 45th is far closer to what the “Berlin Wall” looked like (minus the NE45th bridge, than some median Light Rail ROW that one sees in desired communities such as Brookline, Mass. or Shaker Heights, Ohio.

      1. I used to live right next to I-5 on 50th. I-5 is the biggest wall of them all in Seattle. It takes up more than an entire city block and runs through the center of town. It’s a huge mass of concrete, noisy, and ugly in the very worst way. Cars exiting the freeway speed down 5th and 7th NE and pose a threat to pedestrians crossing at 45th and 50th, every few seconds.

      2. Really? I used to live at 5034 7th, just up the street. I bet we were neighbors.

      3. It was a long time ago. We moved a lot those days. Three different locations in Wallingford. One of them was torn down to become the Wallingford QFC’s extra parking lot.

      4. I was there in 2002-2003.

        That parking lot makes me sad. Maybe we’ll eventually have a subway station there to spur redevelopment. :)

  7. So a train every 7.5 minutes divides a neighborhood more than a constant flow of cars. If anything all these freeways and major arteriels are the Berlin walls.

  8. Ben — Really great post. You captured something I’ve always felt, but never put into words.

    Speaking personally, I will definitely travel to more neighborhoods once link has been built out. I rarely go to Capitol Hill or the U-District because of the hassle. I haven’t been to Bellevue in at least a year.

    Parking lots are one form of car-oriented “development”. Large highways are another. It is amazing to realize how much influence highways have on the fabric of neighborhoods. Except for the international district, no neighborhood spans I-5. SR99 is a veritable wall separating Fremont from Wallingford, South Lake Union from Queen Anne, etc. These boundaries are totally artificial, and they didn’t exist 50 or 60 years ago. By comparison, light rail is *tiny* — basically the width of a two-lane road. The only problem with MLK in this respect is that happens to coincide with a four lane road.

    1. while i mostly agree with you, i don’t think the boundaries are *totally* artificial. much of I5 is built on embankments that served as natural barriers of a kind.

  9. I really think a complex streetcar network is needed to supplement the light rail. Some argue that streetcars are no different than buses, but anyone who has ridden the SLUT (sorry, I can’t resist) or the Portland Streetcar can attest to the fact that this is untrue.

    They are far more reliable, speedy (yes, they can bypass certain intersections that buses cannot), and infinitely more comfortable than a bus. Imagine a streetcar network that links Downtown Ballard, Fremont, and the U-District, as well as downtown, the central district, belltown, and queen anne.

    If you live on 65th and 25th in Ravenna, you can hop on the light rail to 45th and Brooklyn, then transfer to a streetcar to get to downtown Ballard.

    From Ballard to the Central District, hop on the streetcar to westlake, then transfer to another streetcar that goes to the CD. Yes, rush hour traffic would slow down the streetcar, but not NEARLY as much as it would a bus. There would be designated sections where the streetcar could bypass traffic.

    ST1 and ST2 are a great start, but they still leave out a lot of areas–this is where the streetcars network comes in.

    1. Amen to a streetcar network!

      One of my greatest concerns about Link is its orientation toward bringing suburban folks into specific city neighborhoods, while bypassing other equally important neighborhoods.

      According to distance traveled and station spacing, we have a growing selection of modes: The Cascades, Sounder, Link, and buses. But what is missing is an intermediate mode that doesn’t stop at every other block like buses, carries more people with greater speed and comfort, but not at the capacity of Link, and runs along major transport corridors (15th West, Fremont/Greenwood N, SW Spokane, etc).

      We need more of that missing mode: Streetcar is my choice. BRT is another but less desirable option.

      I hope the city council’s plans for a streetcar network move forward with all due diligence. That mode will also help stitch together the fabric of our neighborhoods and limit balkanization.

      1. Mayor Nickels is on record that he will push for an expanded streetcar network if re-elected. I hope [one of] the first of the extensions will be to Fremont and Ballard. Currently there is no direct transit service between the business districts of these two vital neighborhoods. A streetcar network can be built a lot faster–and cheaper–than light rail, and besides, it would be decades before a light rail line would arrive in Ballard.

      2. I would rather see something faster than streetcars, but there are some five lines in the city’s plan. Fremont – Ballard is a good point. There has never been direct bus service between them, and it would certainly get riders who currently avoid going to one or the other place because of the hill and/or need to transfer.

        Although I wonder how streetcars will sabotage the ability to get light rail later. There’s a good chance of getting rail on 45th eventually. If so, it would have to pass through either Fremont or Wallingford (or take a detour to serve both). Having a Fremont – Ballard streetcar may diminish the ability to argue for Fremont – Ballard light rail, which would be faster. (Not that it matters for that short segment, but it would for longer trips.)

      3. Uhh, Route 46?

        While it may not run at tht time you want it, it is certainly more than no direct transit service.

    2. Street cars are fine as long as they aren’t in the curb lane of roads that bicyclists are forced on to.

      1. I agree. I avoid riding most of Westlake for that very reason. Future lines should be predominantly in a median or center lanes.

      2. Umm – couldn’t they just reclaim the old streetcar line, which is now parking? The line along Westlake wasn’t in the road, but just east of it.

      3. Actually that wasn’t a streetcar line but a railroad spur for serving the warehouse and industrial area SLU used to be.

        Still the ROW should still be available and might be a better solution than a curb-lane streetcar along Westlake. That still leaves routing the streetcar through Fremont and Ballard though.

        I would hope most of the future streetcar lines use a center lane or median routing if they can’t be put in their own ROW. The curb lane routing doesn’t play well with the cyclists and some of the proposed streetcar routes are heavily used bicycle routes as well.

      4. Well, I certainly missed the memo when we were told we must go out and ride bicycles in the curb lane. Apparently everyone else did too, as only about 3% of us ride bicycles all the time.

        If there is a train in the lane you normally use, move over and use another lane. There’s no law that says you can’t ride when some other vehicle uses the curb lane, in fact, the law is quite plain, a bicycle is a vehicle entitled to a half of an automobile traffic lane.

      5. It’s not because of the cyclists that I think that streetcars shouldn’t be in the curb lane — it’s because of the cars. As long as streetcars are stuck in traffic with cars, there is a problem.

      6. That’s not what the law is for bicycles. Bicycles are considered vehicles and are not restricted to half a lane. The only restriction is one that also applies to car–a slow moving vehicle has to keep as far right as is safe. A bicycle moving at the speed of traffic has the right to take a full lane at any time.

        The problem with streetcars in the right lane is that it conflicts with the requirement that slow-moving traffic keep right. The “as far as is safe” clause does mean that bikes can take a lane further left, but in practice this is going to be quite dangerous in most cases.

        Streetcars in the middle lane are an easy way to balance the safety and responsibilities of different modes of traffic. The only real advantage of right-lane streetcars is that they’re cheaper and faster to get into service.

    3. Hear, hear! We definitely need a streetcar network. We also need Link-ish transit from Ballard to West Seattle.

      And yeah, it would be nice to have the streetcars in the center lane.

    4. I’d love to see more streetcars, both as a general transportation solution and as a feeder to Link.

      That said, I believe due to the existing heavy traffic in the corridor, a Ballard to U-District transit line should really be a mostly grade separated route built to Link standards. Given the physical and political realities along the corridor, if it is built it is likely to be in a subway through downtown Ballard, Wallingford and the U-District. Given the stop spacing elsewhere on Link there is likely to be only one stop between Wallingford and 15th NW which means it might be possible to put a stop in Freemont rather than at 45th and Aurora. On the other hand 45th/Market between Wallingford and 15th NW is also the only segment where you could likely get away with either an elevated or at-grade alignment so cost may preclude serving Fremont directly.

      Furthermore I believe there needs to be a HCT corridor running roughly in the same alignment as the Green Line of the Seattle Monorail had proposed. IOW some future stage of Link or rapid streetcar needs to go from downtown to the Seattle Center and Lower Queen Anne, Ballard, and possibly Crown Hill. Similarly there needs to be some form of rail service to at least the West Seattle Junction from downtown.

  10. Very interesting post, but I’m not sure I agree with the part about light rail making a “single city.” It certainly makes getting to Columbia City faster, but yesterday visiting some friends who recently moved down I was most struck by how *far* it is from the U-District. Seattle, like most cities, is a big place geographically. Even though a 50-plus minute ride on the 48 will become a direct 40 minute train ride when U-Link opens, that’s still too long a trip to pop over for a few minutes.

    Personally I’m actually trying to go the other way and do almost all daily or weekly activities within my own neighborhood, though work details and friends moving make it a little complicated. :)

    1. I’m not sure how long a trip from UW station to Columbia City is supposed to take on Link but I bet it will seem faster than taking the 48 or taking a bus downtown then taking the 42 or 7.

      Certainly riding link end to end this weekend didn’t feel the same as a 35 minute bus trip.

      Besides Link will reliably get you to Columbia City in the same amount of time no matter what time of day or what the traffic is like. The 48 is notorious for not keeping to schedule and the 42 and 7 can be almost as bad during peak periods.

      1. I think the key is wait time. Even if the train takes longer, the decreased wait time probably makes up for it. When U-Link opens you’ll probably be talking five minutes anyway.

  11. Great post, and I think it’s relevant to point out that there’s a city initiative to create districted city council races, which relates somehow, I’m not sure how.

  12. Regarding getting from Ravenna to Ballard – I have often wished there was a more direct ‘lake to locks route’ going from Magnuson Park to Ballard via 70th/55th/75th (which is wide and perfect for transit but poorly utilized), crossing I-5 at Banner Way and continuing along 85th, turning left on 24th to downtown Ballard. Route 75 goes to Ballard via Lake City, but takes way too long and is very slow.

  13. Try getting to Madison Valley? Really weird example, since any trip from the north end has the Ship Canal to contend with and no light rail will help anyone get to Mad Valley. People who live there know the bus lines and transfer opportunities, especially after getting the #8.

    1. I think he means that the Link will have skip traffic due to its own tunnel under the Montlake Cut. You’d still need to catch an 11 on Capitol Hill.

    2. People who don’t live there never go. I think we’ll eventually see a Madison streetcar again.

      1. So as not to have to walk a few blocks down to the valley? We’ll see. Once they get Jackson and Union squared away.

      2. It’s more than a few blocks, and it’s a hill – and I mean Madison Park, too, there are businesses out at the end that should really have a streetcar loop!

      3. I believe there used to be a cable car all the way out Madison from Downtown. Due to how steep the hills are I’m not sure even a modern streetcar could handle the grade without some sort of counter-balance or cog system.

        Personally I’d vote for bringing back the cable car but I doubt that will happen.

      4. Oh, yeah, there’s like a 15-20% grade for part of it. Perhaps an aerial tram?

  14. This is something to consider when we talk about neighborhood zoning, walkable neighborhoods and those types of issues. I like that I live within walking distance of two grocery stores, 6 coffee shops, my hairdresser, a thrift store, and a library. But my parents in their tiny town on the Oregon coast also live within walking distance of those same types of amenities. (Except there are fewer coffee shops!) The reason I live in the city (aside from just being able to go to school here) is the diversity of people and places and experiences. In strict environmental terms, it would be better to walk to a nearby restaurant than drive to one in another neighborhood that has a different type of cuisine. But hardly anyone is going to be willing to sacrifice the pleasure of trying new food and meeting new people for the sake of the environment. So when we envision a best-case, green, urban future, we have to consider that people are going to want to go everywhere from everywhere and see as much of the city as possible, and recognize that as a wonderful thing!

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