Beautiful Lobby, by Mike Bjork
"Beautiful Lobby", by Mike Bjork

A whole bunch of stories we didn’t get to over the past week:

53 Replies to “News Roundup: Sharrows”

  1. Noticed there is a mini “early bird” parking garage price war going on downtown at 2nd and Union – early bird parking is only $8 at Benaroya and the Chase Building as well as the really old above ground parking garage across the street.

    1. Yeah, I hadn’t noticed the indirect lighting and the matching colors in the floor.

  2. I hope BC doens’t go with the at-grade line. The Canada Line is mind-blowingly great, and since it’s all automatic, it has relatively low operating costs.

    1. I’m curious: why are any newly-constructed lines (LINK, for example) not automatic? Clearly the technology is there, and it scales (it’s used to good effect in both medium-sized airports and Paris). Is it just much more expensive to build? Do unions protest?

      1. I think at-grade alignments and automatic don’t work well together. Human beings need to be there to see whats happening and to brake.

      2. It’s exactly because of the Rainier Valley alignment and any other at-grade segments we’ll have with ST2. If some maniac decides to ignore train priority and cross, the operator will have a few nanoseconds to hit the brakes. I’m not sure how far automated trains go in detecting objects littered along the right-of-way (and using automatic braking) but that would probably compromise our system here because of those blasted grade crossings.

      3. SkyTrain and Canada Line have sensors that detect intruders on the track, at platforms at least. The sensors were pretty obvious on the Canada Line. They were at the ends of platforms. I heard that they had to disable that system during last years’ snow.

      4. They also have a ton of cameras and a control center, obviously not looking at everything all at once, but I saw a video of it on a BC local TV show once.

      5. I wonder if there is any benefit to partially automate some aspects. It’s like cruise control. You push the button to accelerate smoothly back to speed. You can always hit the brakes to cancel. I know Link has speed control but having assisted acceleration would help. I think SF Muni Metro does this.

      6. Oh that’s too bad. Cruise control on a train sounds like great fun! The segment is pretty short, though.

      7. Fun fact!

        Certain Amtrak locomotives have cruise control. Freight locomotives also have this feature but I believe it is only good for below 5mph.

    2. If they built it to be cheap now, they’ll really regret it in the future. The forced transfer to the SkyTrain and slow at-grade running will really make it unappealing.

    3. What’s especially astounding is that the stub and switches *are already installed* from the Millennium Line. Interlining would be simple, and provide direct service to the Broadway corridor as that line is built, as well as a single transfer to downtown instead of either a long out-of-the-way loop or two transfers.

  3. First of all, I’ve found that sharrows have helped. Although they don’t give you your own lane, they show the drivers that you have a right to be there.
    The biggest news that I saw in here is that they say the S. 200th Station could open in 2013. I know they briefly mentioned something like that last year, but I thought that was no longer on the table.

    1. The biggest news that I saw in here is that they say the S. 200th Station could open in 2013. I know they briefly mentioned something like that last year, but I thought that was no longer on the table.

      That will be terribly cool if it is the case. A nice little extension opening between Airport Link and U Link.

    2. If the purpose of sharrows is to remind cars and bicyclists to “share the road”, then they should be mandatory any time SDOT paints a street, anywhere, on any arterial.

    3. I agree. They just sharrowed Ravenna Pl, a little road north of the Burke near 25th Ave NE. I swear drivers have been less aggressive because they see that bike painted on the road. Now if only they could sharrow Brooklyn and 20th Ave NE.

      1. I’m guessing you mean Ravenna Ave. I looked it up on Google Maps and there is a Ravenna Pl but it’s a half-block long right-turn lane from 55th to Ravenna Ave

      2. Nope, that’s the one. Diagonal from 55th to Blakeley. The new bike map has it the right color and everything. Ravenna Pl is arguably the best way to get from the Burke-Gilman up the hill through Ravenna Park, but you have to cross 55th at that awful 5-way intersection.

    4. Huh. Does this mean stops along the route to Federal Way are going to open as they’re built (and the track is laid)? I don’t know why, but I was always under the impression they were all opening at once, in 10-15 years or whatever. Opening piecemeal would certainly do wonders for increasing ridership and generating support for more lines (West Seattle, etc.) in the short term.

  4. Thanks for linking to my rebuttal, Martin. I just updated it to cite John’s last post about transit share, which I didn’t quite explain enough. It came at an opportune time!

    1. Nice work there, Sherwin.

      I notice John Niles is still flailing around on the comment thread.

      What to do about rush hour(s) congestion? Why not follow the John Niles / Kemper Freeman method? Just dump thousands of more 60 foot articulated buses on already jammed streets, arterials, ramps and freeways!

      If Niles supported REAL BRT, he would support at least minimal grade separation. But since Niles is all about “on the cheap transit” + “build my boss’ mega-freeway$”, his ideas are relegated to the ridiculous / disingenuous bin.

      Niles opposed the DSTT before it was built, which gives you an idea of what his notion of BRT really is.

      1. I like on the cheap transit, done right. HOV diamonds are cheap.
        Kemper is just missing the next step.

        Add thousands of 60 foot articulated buses on already jammed streets, arterials, ramps, and freeways.
        Start converting lanes to HOV until the busses aren’t stuck in traffic.

  5. Buried in the piece on the SLUT above is that both Mallahan and McGinn also think it was a silly idea. Why can’t they and others who oppose it withold judgement until both the South Lake Union Park is complete next summer and construction is complete on the headquarters. In addition, wait for the Mercer Mess to be resolved. Until such time, none can say that the streetcar has been a disaster. The TOD isn’t fully complete yet in that corridor.

    I was at the Seattle Library forum debate last night but had to leave early to catch Bob Dylan playing at the WAMU Center and as I would have predicted, McGinn was at his worst and Mallahan at his best on the tunnel option to replace the viaduct. Beyond this issue, neither candidate had anything special or interesting to say and sorry, Ben, but this is not shaping up to be a great year for Seattle politics.

    1. As I said on a previous comment thread, the SLUT is in no way a failure anyways, as if you put it in with the bus routes, it would have the 6th or 7th highest ridership per mile. When the park, MOHAI, and Amazon open it’ll be the top.

      1. I think there’s a good reason none of the transit agencies use ridership per mile as a published metric or a way to determine route effectiveness. Try running the numbers for the Beacon Hill Station elevator. You’d come to the conclusion you need a hundred of them; which would make them about as cost effective and under utilized as the SLU streetcar. The McLaren F1 isn’t a failure but it’s not a cost effective way to get from point A to point B.

      2. I don’t understand the elevator thing… But I think ridership per mile in this instance does make sense. If you took the bus boardings in that area each day, it would be much less.

      3. nah, walking from the Westlake station will still be faster for most people working for Amazon. And the tracks they laid are a disaster for the bicycle riding employees. The SLUT is a complete failure when you judge it by cost/service.

      4. Walking might end up being faster including the wait time but still lots of people take it because a lot of people don’t like walking for whatever reason. The tracks laid are only a disaster for bicycle riding employees if they insist on riding on Westlake/Terry. There are plenty of alternatives.

      5. The tracks are only a disaster for really poor cyclists who probably shouldn’t be riding in the street anyways. I routinely ride on Westlake and it’s really not that big of a deal.

      6. Thank you, Zed. As someone who bikes that area once or twice a week (with 700×25 tires), I fail to see what the hullabaloo is all about.

      7. Well the tracks are kind of annoying to deal with as you try to keep the idiots in the SUV’s from running you down. In the future I’d like to see one of the following done with any rail laid in mixed traffic lanes:
        1. Center running
        2. Bikeways/lanes as proposed in some of the streetcar planning documents.
        3. Some form of rubber groove or gap fillers.

      8. I totally agree that any future streetcar lines should be center running. In addition to interfacing better with cyclists, it is better for the streetcar because it keeps the streetcar from getting stuck behind right-turning vehicles or illegally parked vehicles.

      9. Yeah, I wasn’t saying there isn’t room for improvement next time around, I just don’t see how anyone could call the tracks a “disaster” for cyclists. Based on what I had heard before riding over there, I half expected the road to open up and swallow my front wheel whole or something. What I encountered was perhaps less than ideal, but certainly manageable.

        And +1 on center-running streetcars, unless they have a separated lane to the side.

      10. Walking is not faster, and yes I sometimes do either walk or take the SLUT to get to work from Westlake Station. Assuming you’re an abled person, it’s about the same amount of time if you have a short wait. If you just missed a trolley it might be faster to walk. They’re also closing one block of Westlake to traffic which should help quite a bit.

        There are also the intangible benefits of level boarding, a clear route, and being out of the weather. I remember the first meeting I had at SBRI on Westlake a few years ago and I thought it would just take a couple minutes to walk down there. Looks so close on the map. Wrong! On the other hand, this summer I did often walk for the benefit of being out in the nice weather.

        And again, over 1300 riders per day makes it a middling Metro route but by no means low performing. As alexjonlin pointed out it’s very short so per mile it’s impressive. However as I’m sure Bernie will mention again it is expensive because there’s a streetcar base supporting just one route, and it doesn’t look like we’ll be getting the Central Streetcar extension any time soon.

    2. The South Lake Union Streetcar line (I refuse to call it the you-know-what) needs an extension west to reach main commercial venues – Pike Place Market, Westlake Mall – and cross main transit corridors. The terminus on Westlake is just plain dumb and looks bad.

      I favor one westbound track up Stewart, turn south on 1st or 2nd Ave, turn east on Pike, turn north on 6th and reconnect, about 1 mile of track with 4 stops. This would triple ridership overnight and necessitate one or two more streetcars. SDOT plans show a two-track extension on Stewart, but includes a tie-in to the proposed line on 1st Ave. Just do the simple extension. Turning south on 2nd would simplify those turns – they wouldn’t have to cross traffic.

      Mike McGinn is entirely correct to oppose the Deep-bore. It’s not the best tunnel option for managing traffic, for creating the best new Alaskan Way and most construction jobs, etc etc. Mike has the courage to fight for what’s right. Mallahan is the heir apparent, replacement CEO boss.

  6. It’s unreasonable to expect sharrows (or any other symbolic pavement marking) to be self-explanatory. If “triangle means yield” weren’t firmly established in every driver’s mind from triangular yield signs, the triangular pavement markings SDOT has taken to painting lately would be just as mysterious to drivers. It’s going to take some time before the meaning of sharrows is understood by most drivers.

    1. Sharrows have NO meaning which make them even more mysterious to drivers. My position to the Bellevue Transportation Board is that they are “paint on the pavement.” No more, no less. Focus on dedicated climbing lanes. Sharrows are fine when you’re descending and can keep up with traffic. OK to put cyclists in the GP lanes on a steep decent but please leave a climbing lane on the up hill side.

  7. …meanwhile, quietly under the radar, a close-in suburb looks poised to become the model for TOD rather than the in-city Valley. Only makes sense now to extend a trunk of Central Link from Tukwila/International Blvd to downtown Burien as part of ST3.

    1. The problem with the “TOD” at downtown Burien is that it’s two blocks of parking lots away from the transit center, and they’re new parking lots so they’re not that likely to be developed that soon… I wouldn’t consider it the model for TOD.

  8. This is what I’m saying about McGinn. He doesn’t think a streetcar linking downtown with a waterfront park, and with a maritime museum where you can rent rowboats (human powered! totally green!) is a good idea? This is a man who clearly does not understand “green”, or the experience of being a pedestrian in Seattle.

    1. Then what does that say about Mallahan, who also opposes it but also opposes voter-supported and funded transit? And who is in league with those opposing East Link?

  9. I’m not sure I would make the leap from candidates responding YES to the question “Was the South Lake Union Streetcar a good idea?” to saying that everyone thinks it’s a failure.

    I was at the Forum, and it was just one of the strange questions/responses that evening (which will be broadcast at some point on the Seattle Channel). I did not take their answers to mean that they all thought it was a failure.

    Unfortunately, stupid Yes/No/Waffle questions where one waves a sign don’t offer much room for comment. I was equally surprised when everyone who had just said how much they support the Waterfront Tunnel also said that they think the North Portal needs to be reconfigured for NW access. I don’t disagree, but I expect that would drive up costs. As would the responses that we should look into adding Downtown entrances/exits, which would be impossible.

  10. Slightly off-topic, but is anyone else as frustrated as I am with the City’s handling of the King Street Station renovation?

    Here, they have an opportunity to really engage the community, and build excitement and support for both this magnificent structure, and our new transit options, but all they have is a lame website, and a project manager who refuses to return calls (and when she finally does, she has all the personality of a dust rag).

    When is the escalator coming out? What is the plan for the surface space that the odor control facility construction site was occupying? When is the ceiling in the waiting room coming down? What is the long-range plan for the upper floors? Are they accepting proposals for businesses who might want a presence in the station?

    I work for the city myself, so I am not expecting much, but this project is particularly poorly run from a public input standpoint.

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