28 Replies to “Mike McGinn on Streetfilms”

    1. This is what most people don’t understand about early 20th Century “streetcar suburbs”. The majority of the land is single-family homes with sidewalks and narrow streets, but it surrounds 2-6 story buildings (including shops, apartments, and offices) along a main st, bringing the overall density to roughly 10-25 units/acre if I remember correctly (Sightline did some work on this). The key is that at that level of density you can sustain community buisnesses, safely walk or bike to school or work, and so on.

      In my opinion if we’d built the past 50 years of suburbs on this model we would have been in a good position to easily completely eliminate transportation-related emissions. Unfortunately what we did build is little house-islands that you can only safely leave in a car, even to get to a nearby school, and with no neighborhood commerce to speak of.

      To fit into the whole PSRC strategy, Urban Villages like Roosevelt or Eastlake are a little higher density, with several arterial streets with midrise apartments, some jobs, and in theory rapid frequent transit to the jobs in Urban Centers.

      1. This is why I like Kent East Hill.

        It’s exactly like that.

        I live in the “high density” apartment area on the corridors…three story town house designs.

        However, unlike the canyon block style being pushed in Seattle, there are many inner court yards that are car-free, where kids can play, or you can have a picnic or barbeque.

        But behind me are single family homes, giving way to farms and ranches and then Mount Rainier and national parks.

      2. Can you walk to schools, restaurants, grocery, frequent transit, etc? If so then it sounds nice, and you are far luckier than my friends who chose to buy into pre-crash sprawl.

  1. I’m impressed that he still bikes regularly. With a lot of meetings all over the place, I’d be tempted to take advantage of the city motor pool. I’d love to see a comparison of transportation costs between former mayors and McGinn’s adminstration.

    I found the quote from his scheduler pretty funny. She talked about scheduling his meetings starting with the lowest elevation point at the beginning of the day progressing to the highest. Can you imagine, “I’m sorry, but the Mayor can’t meet with you until tomorrow because of your altitude”

    He purchased an Electric bike from the same shop that I did. Maybe he’ll use that one on days with more hill climbing?

    1. How do you like your electric bike? I have realized that what I want in a bicycle can’t be satisfied with a single bike. I currently have a modified road bike at my dad’s house and a swedish army bike here in Stockholm which I’m going to bring home with me. I got that for carrying heavy things and going for pleasure, hill free rides (it only has 3 gears). I think there is room for one more bike and that would be something in between that I can use on a daily basis. I’ll probably be living on Cap Hill or First Hill so it would be nice to have an electric bike that helps with the big hills. I really don’t like to sweat when I ride so if I’ll be sweaty when I get there I probably won’t do it.

      Anyways all this has led me to conclusion that I should at the very least look into buying and electric bike. Right now I really leaning towards the Schwinn Continental because it looks like a great commuter bike that doesn’t look electric at all.

  2. He was asked by a rider about his electric bike but I couldn’t hear his answer. He did show it to me (as well as about 10 other bikes of his family) in his garage.

    It was such a fast event. All in all I spent about an hour commuting in with him and we barely stopped. I was amazed how difficult I found it keeping up with him and the other riders. The flatness of NYC gets you used to one speed, not many. :)

  3. Sorry Martin, I don’t buy the appeal of this one. I watched it and I don’t buy it I’m afraid. Seattle doesn’t have the right topography to make bikes the mass transit of the future.

    1. Bikes technically aren’t considered mass transit, but regardless, surveys show that a large chunk of people in Seattle, like in most cities, would me much more willing to bike if only they felt SAFER doing it. I salivate at the huge potential demand out there that can be tapped with some simple, relatively inexpensive investments in biking infrastructure. Low hanging fruit! To put it in perspective, Portland’s entire 300 miles of biking paths cost about the same as 1 mile of urban highway! (according to a streetsblog article today)

      I agree there can be some intimidating hills out there and biking will never be for everybody, but from someone who lives on Capitol Hill, it’s sometimes just a matter of learning the most gradual route to your destination. And if it’s just a couple steep blocks that are unavoidable, nothing says the bike can’t be simply walked up.

    2. Tim I think it depends on what you think a bicycle should do. Bikes are not a all in one solution, but part of a mixture of solutions which mass transit is key. Take U Link. With the station on Capitol hill now a good chuck of that area can access a light rail station with a fairly flat ride. Link then connects to stations downtown which are much lower. Same thing with Beacon Hill.

      1. I don’t see bicycles as part of our mass transit solutions at all. They don’t move masses of people as a group like our buses, trains and streetcars do. Sure they have a purpose somewhere for some people and can be useful in some capacity for some people but I wouldn’t really equate them with mass transit. They are just a more ecological version of a single occupant vehicle! Not that that isn’t good, but mass transit? Not really.

      2. Ok, how about SOV alternatives? That covers carpooling, vanpools, and walking as well as traditional mass transit.

      3. Bikes can be “Rapid” transit! When the traffic gets thick, it’s faster to ride! As for mass transit, who cares? The last think I want to do is spend more time with the great unwashed in Seattle. That’s why I bike. My bus (550) is packed morning and night. The bike lane, wide open. Coupled with the short drive to the P&R, it takes 40 minutes to drive/bus, vs 50 on my bicycle… 10 more minutes and I get nearly 2hrs of aerobic exercise. My heart rate is down, my blood pressure is low, my stress level is low.

        Seattle is a great place to bicycle, moderate climate, lots of bike paths, reasonable respect from drivers and it could be better.

    3. I agree with Archie. In the few times I rode in Critical Mass (a few years back), legal & philosophical issues aside, the challenge of hills & traffic seemed to melt away with the lower speed and safety in numbers. Going up from the waterfront by Pike Pl, through downtown and up to Capitol Hill, even biking across the Aurora Bridge, wasn’t as intimidating as it sounds when I don’t have to worry about fast auto traffic threatening my life.

      Adam’s right. Bikes + transit are win-win. It’s a quick and economical way to make transit more accessible and useful. When I had classes at Cascadia CC, I biked down hill from my house and took the bus back. It allows me the flexibility of not having to leave on a fixed schedule to get to class on time and gets my blood pumped up and a breath of fresh air to keep me awake in class.

      MLK should’ve gotten better bike facilities to get more people accessing Link by bike, SODO, too. The potential is huge.

    4. The hill issue is overblown a bit. Most of the time you can find routes that aren’t too bad to get over most rises. Probably the biggest problem is it takes a while to get from couch potato to someone who can ride an average grade without getting winded or tired.

      Still our bike share is pretty good, even with all of the hills. Besides many of the cities people think of as being “flat” aren’t really. They have bluffs along the river or overpasses and bridges that require a good climb to get up.

  4. You mean he doesn’t show up to Sound Transit meetings in a Beefed-up Town Car like Ronnie Sims did?

    (Poor Ron, does HUD have a Town Car for him to use in DeeCee?)

    Kudos to Mike and I hope he challenges other Big City Mayors™ to ride their bikes when he comes to visit, or when they visit Seattle.

  5. Kudos to the Mayor for riding a bike. Even if it’s not human powered you still have the influence of traffic to deal with. Yeah, we’ve got hills, it’s hard… the bus doesn’t come every 15 minutes 24/7… get over it; or drive like most people do which is a far better ecological and economical solution than hot and cold running public transit.

  6. I guess now we know what the mayor was doing when he should have been getting ready for yesterday’s speech.

    1. Or not feeling able to cross the street from City Hall to put his vote in the King County Ballot box on 4th avenue!

  7. Before buying an electric bike, it might pay to look for a shower and locker room near where you work. If you can shower and change after your ride in, it changes the whole equation radically.

    For example, it expands the diameter of your riding circle so much you might save some real money buying or renting a home. A longer and more aggressive ride morning and night also pretty much meets any need for physical exercise.

    Aggressive riding also means you can keep up with traffic on more streets, and also allows you to make better decisions. For example, instead of descending Fremont N at an excessive rate of speed, because you’re late, you can stay in control and be ready for unusual traffic developments.

    Considering the very strong relationships between exercise and good health, it’s not hard to envision a future in which health care funding subsidizes exercise salons with showers and lockers for bicyclists.

  8. Yes, but the mayor makes bike riding an integral part of his transit philosophy which doesn’t seem right to me.

    Seattle is not some economic backwater but a major world city and we need to focus on transit options that match this viewpoint.

    I can see why some of you here might think it is great that the mayor bikes to work but it seems like a distraction to me from the real issues of the day. Somehow it seems to lessen the office as a whole.

  9. Tim,
    Walking and bicycling are the foundation of urban mobility. They are often the fastest and most convenient way to navigate at the Neighborhood level. Beyond that, at the level of the district, city or region, Mass transit and independent vehicles have a role to play moving people faster across longer distances. Most people access transit by walking. 1/4 mile is used typically as the distance almost everyone is willing to walk if they are at all. It’s comparable to the edge of a large suburban mall parking lot to the center of the mall. Beyond that you will get some people willing to walk 1/2 mile and a few will hike up to 1 mile (I’m one of those currently – I could go 4 blocks, but I hate transferring enough to make it worth the extra 6 on foot). Beyond that it’s very unlikely. With a bicycle you can go anywhere from 2 to 3 times the speed and distance. That means transit can draw bike riders from between 1-2 miles very easily. It should equate to somewhere between a 5-10 minute ride. That is usually not enough to wrinkle you or soak you with sweat. I did that for 2 years. Hills here are a challenge but not a total impediment. Some people avoid them, by riding additional distance, or choosing a route that switchbacks up the hill – like climbing a steep mountainside. Others throw the bike on the bus or train. Others have electric assist.
    Long commuting on bicycle is not going to appeal to everyone, but having better bike infrastructure in and between neighborhoods especially connecting to transit will facilitate some more of that, along with everyday short errands around the immediate vicinity. The cost is ridiculously small compared to transit or roadway expenditures. Bikes are a great intermediate step between walking and transit. A bike gives you a serious time advantage over walking and it can connect you with transit options that would otherwise be at an uncomfortable distance. I agree with other posters that safety perception is key to having more people ride and there are synergistic effects – when more people ride, more people ride because seeing people ride makes you feel safer and makes drivers more cautious. Safe parking is also part of the equation. Nobody likes coming back to missing parts or worse.

    Integrating biking with transit strategies can yield some good results. If more people biked to park and rides we could expand capacity with minimal land required. At $5,000/stall for surface auto parking (way more for structure) and less than $2000 for a (double) bike locker, and fitting 10 bikes on one car spot…. That, sure as beans, DOES need to be part of our transit strategy. If you haven’t noticed, governments are all broke, and cutting service is on the table. People need to get creative. Does anyone have usage stats on bike parking offered by transit agencies in the region? I’d wager it’s pretty high.

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