Tukwila in the fog, by Mike Bjork
"Tukwila in the fog," by Mike Bjork

38 Replies to “News Roundup”

  1. Larry Phillips called first for the transit audit, but the council’s own staff recommended widening that audit midstream to find more efficiencies. The dude is more concerned about credit than policy.

  2. I’m sure Magnolia would just love to create a little more capacity for their commuters. It would be insane to allow HOVs in the lane RapidRide is going to be using.

    1. Agreed. It isn’t as if there aren’t buses already using those lanes. Of course this is always the danger with any sort of transit-way exclusive lane for buses. The auto-holics see a piece of pavement they aren’t allowed to drive on that isn’t bumper-to-bumper with vehicles and they go nuts demanding it be opened to “relieve congestion”. This is why you see demands that HOV lanes get converted to HOT or general purpose lanes and that bus lanes or transit-ways be opened to HOV drivers.

      1. Yeah, IMHO this is the #1 reason I don’t buy the bus-routes-are-just-as-permanent-as-rail argument that BRT will draw development like rail does. The routes may be permanent, but the quality is not.

      2. First, an editorial note: I am amazed at how these neighbors have been continually bringing up this issue of access since the implementation of those lanes. The signs are painfully clear and, by now, the same people who have complained about them must have figured them out due to the numbers of times this has been brought up.

        Now, the engineering note: From an operational standpoint, the benefits of having HOV style of lanes on freeways is that the lane is to the left of traffic where higher speed traffic is expected and designed for. However, for arterial streets where buses will need to stop more frequently than express buses on freeways, the lane needs to be to the right. (Also, because building pedestrian bridges, signals, and islands in the middle of the roadway may not be possible due to cost and right-of-way constraints.) Now, when carpools are added to a right HOV lane, a SOV taking a right turn may assume that another SOV in their right mirror has just merged into the lane farther behind than him. As such, the driver would expect that the motorist would be braking and not traveling at speed. Simply put, I wouldn’t design a roadway to operate like this.

  3. i agree with the central district news — it would be awesome if rail went through the CD. i propose a new light rail line from the mt baker station up MLK to, at least, union st. MLK is quite wide (3 lanes and parking on both sides) to that point.

    1. Using Google Maps, MLK+Link looks to be 100 ft wide, sidewalk to sidewalk. MLK on the I-90 lid appears to be ~70 ft. (Measurements eyeballed using satellite view and the scale in the bottom left.) Assuming no loss of car lanes (did Central Link remove any MLK lanes?), light rail would need about 15 feet on each side. Could a streetcar work better given the footprint?

      1. Yeah a streetcar would be better for that, I think up from MBS along Rainier and 23rd, eventually getting all the way to the U District. In terms of light rail, there should be in the far future an underground Link line serving the CD. My idea is for it to go from the Ferry Terminal to Pioneer Square Station to First Hill to the CD, then turning up and going towards the U District. My preferred route there is a little too complicated to explain.
        Also, we need a Yesler or James/Cherry cable car!

      2. The full monorail plan envisioned a line on 23rd Ave E through the CD and 25th Ave NE past University Village. I suppose it started at the Mt Baker station and went up to 145th or Northgate or Lake City, I don’t remember. At first I thought, “How many people want to go from the CD to University Village or northeast Seattle.” But after I thought about how many other corridors became very popular after transit was introduced — the 8, 75, and the Fremont half of the 30 — I realized it would be quite useful to have a line along the east side of town.

  4. Are there any updates on SWIFT ridership, or only the estimate from the very first day of operation?

    What is really stupid is to allow bicycles in the “bus only” lanes on Elliott Ave. and 15th Ave W (or anywhere, for that matter). I have seen idiot bicyclists going about 10 mph in the middle of the bus lanes with three packed buses stacked up behind them, forced to slow down to the 10 mph of the bicyclist, who thinks he is saving the world while delaying about 200 people in the three buses behind him. This is just unblelievable to me. The idea of “bus only” lanes is to help buses go faster, I thought. Allowing bicyclists to use those lanes, and slow the buses to a crawl is just stupid beyond belief.

    But, this is Seattle, so it’s not really that hard to believe something this stupid is allowed to happen, I guess.

    1. Agreed! I use the Transit Lanes on Elliot and 15th everyday. When traffic isn’t bad, it’s okay to just go around bikes, but when traffic is very slow or stopped to your left, you can’t pass the bikes. And they know you’re there but won’t even let you by. Plus, people don’t understand the rules of these lanes. Once the restriction is over, you can park in these lanes, but you still can’t just drive straight down them. The Right Turn only except Transit signs, are still in effect 24/7. While I like these lanes, they are scary, when people turn right from the second lane in front of you or try and race you just down to the Magnolia Bridge onramp, when they could pull in behind you. Adding carpoolers to this lane would make matters worse, not to mention they want to let Taxis use them too. As a bus driver, I hate nothing more than taxis….they are dangerous!

      1. When I lived in Sweden many years ago it was quite common to see whole streets, not just traffic lanes, that were closed to all motor vehicles except buses and taxis. I’m not sure what the rationale was for allowing taxis.

      2. Of course, “over there” Taxis are required to be operated using luxury cars, usually Mercedes, or a specially designed vehicle such as the London Cab.

      3. I never ride my bike on Elliot. I always use the Interbay trail which is an excellent alternative.

        I don’t know why anyone would choose to ride on a huge, busy arterial. Oh wait — it must be the die hard Vehicularists who never deign to use off-street paths and gleefully block entire lanes, needlessly, for miles on end.

      1. I’ve seen them in London and I wouldn’t call it working. That’s not to say it can’t work but I’d like to see some examples. If the 110th C9A alignment is chosen for East Link it would be great to have 110th be a shared bus/bike/pedestrian plaza with business only access for cars. I’ve search for something like this to point to but so far haven’t found anything decent.

        I’ve got to say, we were in Bellingham this weekend and that town has done it right with regard to bike access and being pedestrian friendly.

      2. I used to ride my bike all the time in Paris. You HAD to move over if a bus was coming. They weren’t very sympathetic. They’d honk and get right up behind you if you didn’t.

    2. I bike all over Seattle, and I can’t figure out why anyone would bike in BAT lanes on Elliot or 15th. Those are terrible biking streets and the Elliot Bay bike path is right nearby.

    3. I personally prefer Dexter to the Burke for biking to Ballard, but have ridden 15th and it is faster for high speed rides (10mph is not high speed). However, having a lane to share only with buses does make it worlds safer for bikers. A simple honk would probably get most bikers to pull over and let buses pass… Are Metro drivers advised against doing this?

    4. As a 30+ year commuter cyclist, I don’t know why the decision was made to combine bus-only and bicycle lanes, but it does seem to fit the Seattle “anything but cars” approach.

      On one-way streets downtown, where the right lane is bus-only, bike lanes on the far left work somewhat well other than being dangerously narrow and prone to left-hooks by motorists turning left without looking for through cyclists on their left.

      When you aren’t on a one-way street, state law mandates that cyclists use the right-most through lane. Perhaps the city does not have a mechanism to overrule uniform traffic law? Or do they assume cyclists would use the right lane anyway, whether or not it was signed “Bikes OK”, just because that’s where bikes normally belong?

      In any case, this ties in with another issue that I’ve seen complaints about — some of the bus-only lanes are too narrow for a bus to reliably stay entirely in that lane. If Seattle had the political will to adopt wide outside lanes and narrow inner lanes, you’d have more room for buses to pass bikes in the right lane, and the perception of narrower lanes would lower the speed at which motorists in the inner lanes naturally drive. There isn’t room on every street, but where there is, this combination is a win for buses, bicycles, law-abiding motorists, and pedestrians.

  5. Help for bicyclists in Issaquah?

    Yes, where this overpass and “connector” is shown to terminate is exactly where the big pain in the ass part of the Lk Sammamish loop begins. What they show as I-90 Sammamish trail doesn’t really exist in a rideable form. You’re force to deal with shopping center traffic and a bunch of lights until you can wiggle your way into the left turn lane at 220th. The 12th crossing and using the trail behind “Pickering Farms” would be much better. This is a nice little section of trail that essential disconnected from anything.

  6. I wish I could ride a bike. :::sheds a tear:::

    not since my accident my Senior Year in high school landed me in a wheelchair (I’m going on 30 now)

      1. Yeah, I was going to post something about hand cycles. It’s really embarrassing when someone on one passes you and you’re in your full race kit :-( There’s also tandems. I’ve had many many good times riding a tandem. Something like the ViewPoint concept could be re-purposed as a hand cycle hybrid design.

      2. There at least used to be a hand-cycle kit available off the shelf for the Viewpoint. (Been a Viewpoint captain for going on 9 years now.)

  7. Why in the world do normally rational people on this blog revert to hatred as soon as “cyclists” are mentioned – the references in the links are not to 15th and the installation by SDOT of a combination bike/bus lane.

    The links are about 1) the legislation that mandates stiffer penalties for irresponsible (irresponsible, dangerous drivers, not a driver who was following the driving road rules) drivers who maim or kill a cyclist because of reckless driving 2) a new overpass that will help cyclists and peds cross a major freeway safely to access existing pathways that are currently difficult to get to and 3) why are there not more women cyclists on the streets?

    1. Having lived in Seattle and Amsterdam I can speak to this one.

      In Amsterdam, probably the world’s most bike-friendly city, bikes/cars/trams/pedestrians all coexist quite well. Each respects the others, and common sense prevails. Bicyclists ride on separated bike paths, or at least in the bike lane on the road. Cars give way to bikes, and all give way to trams. There is no nonsense about bicyclists having the *RIGHT* to be somewhere. Bicycle groups don’t purposely tie-up traffic to make some point about a god-given right to be on the road. Bicyclists would never ride in a regular traffic lane and purposely block traffic. Bicyclists would never ride on a shared-pedestrian path (such as the Burke-Gilman) and swear at pedestrians and recreational users. Finally, presidents of local bicycle clubs would never say that they are “disturbed” when a police spokesman points out that riding a bike over the Aurora Bridge in a traffic lane is a bad idea.

      The Seattle biking community seems to have some sort of sense of entitlement that they own the road, can ignore all signals, and generally do whatever they damn well please. It’s a very smug “I’m saving the world by riding a bike, look at all of you Earth-destroyers” mentality. It’s very off-putting, especially as a recreational user who doesn’t want to deal with the drama. What’s up with Critical Mass? Why do people feel the need to inconvenience thousands of others on a regular basis? This adds a lot of animosity and turns people off.

      I will grant that Seattle’s bike infrastructure is nowhere near the level found in Amsterdam, Copenhagen, or other European cities. But we should focus on it for future corridors (especially flat arterials such as 15th, Aurora, Dexter, and MLK) as part of the improvements. Then let’s kick the bikes off major arterials – they do NOT belong there, regardless of what some loon at the Cascade Bicycle Club says.

      1. So until cyclists have *somewhere else* to ride, where exactly do you propose that is sans bike lanes, or boulevards or a trail like the Burke? The street is not reserved wholly for motor vehicle use.

        And why do you lump all cyclists into the same category as purposefully holding up traffic? Not ALL cyclists do this, like not ALL cyclists run red lights and do stupid things. Not ALL motorists run red lights and MOST motorists are following the road rules. It’s the constant cyclist bashing that gets so tiring.

        I’m a cyclist, I ride by the road rules, don’t run lights and am a proponent of alternate transit options, also being a bus rider which is why I visit this blog. If someone posts on this blog about how horrible buses are, how awful the drivers are people tend to shut that person down. But if cyclists as a group are dissed, then it’s a free for all against cyclists.

      2. Only a small percentage of cyclists participate in Critical Mass. Many more have done so once or twice but don’t support the attitude.

        What percentage of Amsterdam’s bike lanes are dedicated, vs those shared with peds or cars?

      3. Most of The Netherlands’ bike lanes are in the pedestrian way, not the roadway. They pavement is painted a dark red and they’re depressed a couple of inches from the part of the sidewalk that pedestrians are to use.

        Only in the rural parts of the country are there striped bike lanes in the roadway.

  8. I am not a huge fan of cyclists I have to say because they force the rest of us to make potentially reckless decisions such as when to pass them and how wide a pass to give them. It is also silly to allow them on major arterials where the risk of accidents and poor decision making is that much greater.

    1. Cyclists don’t “force” you to make a dangerous decision. It’s up to the overtaking vehicle to make a safe pass. If it’s not safe to pass, wait until it is safe to do so. Just like you would do so for any slower moving vehicle. How wide a pass? 3′ is the standard. Cyclists are hit most often crossing streets at a trail crossing BTW, like the Burke, rather than moving with traffic on a major arterial. It’s not silly, it’s how people move around most efficiently.

      1. Yes, but making a safe pass around them can take for ever!

        I don’t think they should be on major arterials and their arguments against the Streetcar to South Lake Union are irresponsible and dare I say it, but irrelevant to the wider scheme of things.

  9. The second link above is about BAT lanes on 15th W., which is one of the things I commented on:

    “The Magnolia Community Club (MCC) is asking the city to allow carpools and taxis to use the BAT lanes along 15th Ave West. “

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