This was a very big news week for bikes. This is an open thread.

55 Replies to “News Roundup: Bike Edition”

    1. Hey, I was there a few months ago! It’s right next to a subway stop (I was touring the subway while killing some time), and I was disappointed it wasn’t open. There’s a great public market across the street from the base.

      Seattle could use a few funiculars. I’m picturing one going up Queen Anne, and one going up the hill from Alki Beach.

      1. I always thought that a funicular would be a good replacement for the counterbalance

      2. Buses (both electric trolleys and diesels) go up and down the counterbalance many times per hour with no problems. What would possibly be the point of a funicular there? If you can’t walk up the counterbalance, hop on a bus. I take the #2 and #13 up and down the counterbalance all the time.

        Just one more advantage of buses over streetcars and light rail.

      3. “Many” times per hour is a bit of an exageration. “A few” is closer to true, except during rush hour. Why have a frequent lift between lower and upper QA? Because both are great walkable areas. Connecting the two by an infrequent bus doesn’t have the walking appeal of a every-5-minute tourist (and local) attraction.

      4. The monorail runs parallel to all the buses on 3rd, yet it’s the only mass transit in the city to turn a profit. What would possibly be the point of a monorail there?

      5. The monorail is purely a tourist attraction. It has virtually no value as a transportation system. Calling the Seattle Monorail “mass transit” is hilarious.

        Seattle Monorail turns a profit because it costs $2.00 ($1.50 for kids 5 to 12) to ride one mile, and everyone pays for each trip — the monorail does not give or accept transfers to or from any other trips.

        If buses charged adults $2 per mile, they could turn a profit, also. This is how you turn a profit: you actually charge the users more than it costs to provide the service.

        “Ride the Ducks” turns a profit. Does that mean we need more WW2 amphibious vehicles on our streets? Does that prove that “Ride the Ducks” is a valuable “transit system” that we should reproduce throughout the city?

        Taxis also turn a profit. Does that mean to you that our bus system should be replaced with taxis? That would surely enable us to greatly reduce our sales tax in our area. Just eliminate all buses and trains and let taxis take their place.

        There is absolutely no point to having a monorail down 5th avenue. If it weren’t for the World’s Fair, there would be no monorail there, because it makes zero sense from a transportation point of view. The monorail is as useless as the S.L.U.T.

        Again, nobody has any problem getting up or down the Counterbalance. Why are you looking for a “solution” to a problem that does not exist? You have a bunch of money sitting around that you are looking to waste on something?

      6. The #2 bus going downtown in the am has 15 buses going down the counterbalance between 6:30 and 9:00 — an average of one bus every 10 minutes.

        The #13 going downtown in the am has 7 buses going down the counterbalance between 6:30 and 9:00, or one bus every 20 minutes.

        Combined, there are 22 buses going down the counterbalance between 6:30 and 9:00 am, for an average of one bus every 7 minutes.

        Between 3:30 and 6:00 pm, there are ten #13 buses going up the counterbalance, and 14 #2 buses going up the counterbalance. That is a total of 24 buses in 2.5 hours, or one bus every 6 minutes. That is more frequent service than Link in peak hours.

        The rest of the day, there are buses going up and down the counterbalance about once every 15 minutes.

        Again, what is the problem?

        Take the bus.

      7. The problem is that the vast majority of people will never take a bus, but if you offer a rail option, they will suddenly flock to it. I wish more people took the bus like you and me.

      8. The #2 comes every half hour between 6:30 and 9pm, when we’d see a lot of pedestrian traffic. The bus system is designed for commuters, not for communities.

        “There is absolutely no point to having a monorail down 5th avenue.” Yet enough people do, paying $2 a trip, to make a profit. Maybe they see a point that you don’t see. As a non-tourist I often take the monorail. Why? It comes every 10 minutes and is much faster than the city bus. Imagine being able to take this to the Seattle Center, enjoy a very walkable area to the QA Funicular, and wait less than 5 minutes to ride up to the next very walkable area.

        Yes, buses will functionally move people around. But making transportation convenient and fun greatly increases ridership.

      9. +1. I take the monorail with some frequency as well, and see plenty of non-tourists riding with me. It’s just so much faster than the bus—especially during rush hour, when buses (all together now!) get stuck in traffic.

      10. “The problem is that the vast majority of people will never take a bus”

        This is not true. However, for people who think they are too good to ride a bus, they are perfectly free to provide their own transportation, including walking.

        “The #2 comes every half hour between 6:30 and 9pm, when we’d see a lot of pedestrian traffic. The bus system is designed for commuters, not for communities.” The #13 also goes up and down the counterbalance every 30 mintues between 6:30 and 9pm, meaning a bus up or down the counterbalance every 15 minutes in off-peak hours.

        “Imagine being able to take this to the Seattle Center, enjoy a very walkable area to the QA Funicular, and wait less than 5 minutes to ride up to the next very walkable area.” If you value walking so much, why not walk the entire distance, instead of taking two separate rides with a walk in between? If you can walk from the Center monorail station to the bottom of the Counterbalance, you can surely walk from Westlake Center to Seattle Center, also.

        Face it, there is not going to be a Queen Anne fernicular. It makes zero sense. If you love walking so much, walk up and down the counterbalance. I do that occasionally. Good exercise.

      11. Norman, I believe you also think ST2 and light-rail over I-90 “make zero sense.” And yet Seattle approved ST2 with as much as 80+ percent of the vote in some neighborhoods. I think I’ll look elsewhere for a reliable barometer of what Seattle thinks makes sense when it comes to transit.

        There are obviously many transit priorities (extending the SLU streetcar, extending the First Hill streetcar to Aloha, building the rest of the streetcar network, building light rail to West Seattle) to address before looking at anything like this, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t fun to talk about while avoiding real work.

      12. Haha, if they installed one of those I might actually visit Upper Queen Anne every once in a while!

      13. Seriously, right? If you google trampe there are some pretty neat youtube vids of the lift in action.

      14. I went as far as e-mailing Nickels once about the Trampe. He never as much as replied to my e-mail. I have a feeling McGinn may be more open to the idea.

      15. Maybe if the budget situation ever turns around while he’s in office, although he’s smelling kinda one-termy these days so who knows. I’m sure SDOT would be interested, but I think the difficulty rests in matching a high-use corridor with a street lacking major intersections. Maybe Dravus up from 15th, or a pair of lifts on 6th Ave North—one between Dexter and Halladay and one on the hellish section of 6th Ave/Raye between Aurora and 4th Ave North/Queen Anne Drive? I’m sure there’s something in Capitol Hill that makes more sense in terms of ridership, but I’m not so familiar with the streets there. The other option would be retrofitting some of our wonderful public stairs.

      16. Just got back from San Francisco, and we need our cable cars back! Just think how much faster the 27 could get from Leschi to Downtown doing straight up the hill from the lake. Funiculars and cable cars should be reinstated as the next streetcars for hip American cities.

  1. Speaking of bikes and alleys, I’m going to repost a comment I made over at Daily Score about my bicycle freeway idea. One of these days I’ll get around to sketching out exactly what I’d like and post it on Orphan Road.

    Imagine an 8′ wide ribbon of concrete around 15′ in the air running N-S in a few alleys in the city. Imagine how much time you would save without having to stop for cars, pedestrians, or stop lights. I think we could do this for very little money, and it could be in place in a year.

    1. I read somewhere (here?) they have something really similar in Copenhagen – not grade-separated, but with timed lights and interchanges and whatnot. Apparently it’s been just like real freeways in that you build it and the demand creates itself.

      1. Sounds comparable to the deep bore tunnel: new infrastructure primarily benefitting one mode, access points would be reduced compared to what currently exists, & all at a tremendous expensive while other long standing bike improvements across the city remain unfunded.

        oh, and any strategy to get this past city risk assessors concerned with cyclists falling from “15 feet in the air at 30 mph”?

      2. “access points would be reduced compared to what currently exists” How so? It’s not like I’m proposing we take out existing bike lanes (sorry, “sharrows”). And it’s certainly not a downtown bypass.

        re: risk. Pedestrian and bicycle overpasses aren’t exactly cutting edge technology. And I’m not sure how you’d get yourself over the railing even at 30mph. At most I’m picturing speed limit signs.

        Actually the risk question is interesting. We don’t think twice about cars running around at 60+mph over our heads, or running 30mph+ without railing right next to pedestrians. How many bicycle-bicycle collision deaths were there this year? How about car-car collision deaths?

    2. You MUST stop for pedestrians for both legal and safety reasons. Please do not put the idea out that bicyclists can go tearing down alleys at 30 MPH and sail across sidewalks and streets “without having to stop for cars, pedestrians, or lights” – our alleys should NOT become speedways for irresponsible cyclists.

      1. :-) Please re-read my idea. The bikes are 15′ in the air – like a freeway. Sure, if someone was dumb enough to walk on one you’d have to stop for them. But that’s the same as on a car freeway.

    3. I think connecting various cities would be better, if way more difficult and expensive. I dream of a day when you ride to the Bike Freeway and see signs saying, “Everett — 30 mi / 3 hours” and “Olympia — 60 mi / 6 hours” As it stands, you have to parse out bike routes between cities, often trying to figure out a good route in places you’ve never been. Easy to make mistakes and easy to get lost. The Interurban ends just short of Tacoma, forcing you to take your pick of 3 or 4 roads that are marginal for riding, at best.

  2. Little disengenuous to say that Governor Gregoire “loves big expensive freeways” based on this letter referred to through the link above:

    We value your advisory role in shaping a project that is essential to maintaining our economic vitality and enhancing the livability of the communities in our two states. Interstate 5 is a major economic corridor for both states and the entire West Coast. We feel strongly this project must move forward without delay.

    This is addressed by the governors of Oregon and Washington to folks in the Portland area regarding the proposed I-5 Columbia River bridge. I do not think that this letter by the two governors says anything less or more than one would expect them to say in the circumstances. What do we expect them to say – advocate for a bike path to cross the Columbia. It is a huge river and the I-5 is a major economic and tourist highway along the west coast. I don’t see what else you expect them to advocate for. Apart from doing their part to push the BNSF towards completion of the Vancouver switching yard in that area.

    Don’t interpret me incorrectly here, but roads are still a major infrastructual part of a mass transit system. I have said this before, that with the exception of trains, most mass transit is really regional rather than inter-regional in scope. I don’t see either a Link train or a bus running anytime soon between Seattle and Portland (Greyhound doesn’t count) Heck, we can’t even get Sounder trains to Olympia let alone point south of there. Beyond the three county Puget Sound, roads and Amtrak are going to have to assume the burden of short/medium distance travel on distances up to 200 miles in any one corridor segment. More Amtrak and better roads then between Seattle and Portland will do more to get people out of planes on that corridor than adding bike paths between them.

    Having said all this, it is probably fair to suggest that Governor Gregoire does not quite see the relevance of mass transit within the Puget Sound as we might wish her to. I don’t recall anything she has said that is positve on Sound Transit, but then she hasn’t really said anything against it either that I can remember. Then again, it is not really an agency that is in her scope as governor. She controls WSDOT, not the local agencies. She could perhaps like Amtrak a little more than she does and encourage WSDOT to ramp up their rail project work with the BNSF, but I digress from my original point regarding the Columbia River crossing between Vancouver and Portland.

    1. I see your point but I think that is being a bit too generous. SR-99, SR-520 and the CRC combine have a budget close to 15 billion dollars, we are talking something on the scale of ST2. She originally promised KC Metro the chance to a $20 dollar car tab tax as part of the SR-99 agreement and then vetoed it a year later. She went to a press conference at the ST O&M facility and only mentioned transit once, at the very end of her speech.

      Specifically related to CRC yes I-5 is a corridor of regional significance but from what I know only about 25% of the traffic is through traffic, everything else is Clark County and Portland residents and business.

      1. Well 25% is not insignificant and it would entail a lot of construction jobs.

        Our governor is not great on mass transit and I don’t disagree with you there, but Metro is not really in her sphere of influence and I am sure that right now, she is more interested in the construction jobs she wants to see flowing into the state.

      2. Tim,

        Metro, Community Transit, and Sound Transit are absolutely tapped out with respect to taxing authority, and only the State can fix that. I’m not sure how you can possibly conclude that they’re somehow out of the governor’s “sphere of influence”.

      3. Metro is not directly under her executive authority.

        Washington State essentially has what I would call a ‘weak’ executive because so many of the officials around her are similarly elected independently of the governor. Heck she can’t even choose her running mate, let alone her attorney general and other positions. Thus the leadership one might wish for from the governor – and yes, it would be very nice to get more – is more constrained than it might be in stronger executive states.

        Part of Governor Gregoire’s problems during this awful recession I think also stem from the fact that she doesn’t appear to get out much. From the evidence of the media in Seattle, she barely comes here let alone Eastern Washington where she is probably as remote as expecting a visit here from say the governor of North Dakota – i.e. highly unlikely. She definitely she needs to take a tour and then she might realize that there is more truth to her oft quote references to the ‘Great State of Washington’ than she realizes. Of course, I am not privy to her daily calendar but it seems like the press would report a major ‘fact finding’ tour if she took one. And if she did, she might see the truth of our transit angst up here in Seattle and Tacoma and Everett.

        However, coming back to the Columbia Bridge Crossing project, the link you put up above was to a bike enthusiast site and so while I would expect them to be hostile to cars crossing the Columbia, their hostility has no relevance at all to the reality that the I-5 is a major economic and tourist engine between Seattle and Portland and that a new bridge is an integral part of that. I don’t blame the two governors for pointing this out to Portland and Vancouver in their letter.

        By the way, my email inbox included this new revamping of Vancouver, Wash.’s website. Seemingly affronted by all of the attention given to Canada’s Vancouver, they want more tourists to visit our one. Hopefully, those tourists will arrive by Amtrak, but we have to accept that a good proportion of them perhaps going on to Portland or Columbia Gorge destinations will need a car and if they travel the faster Oregon side of the river, they will be needing a nice new bridge to get there if it is as necessary as the two governors believe it to be.

  3. When you check out a camera from the UW, they ask: would you like a tripod? Why is it that so many people say no?

    Actually, looking closely at that footage it looks like the footage was shot no faster than 1/30. Maybe they were using cell phone cameras?

    Also, the end is highly annoying. Light Rail is two words (and it’s true meaning is to be used as an adjective, not a noun).

    Other than those two gripes, the video was great!

  4. So last week, Friday, Orion brought a bus by for Metro to see. I missed it when it was at the the bases but when I got done with my first half of work, I found it at Union Station.

    I spoke with the Orion representive that was with the bus. He said the pilot bus should be arriving to Metro in late April…..not sure how accurate the info is, but i know they should be coming soon. And the rest of the 93 buses should be delivered in late Oct/Nov. Again this is jsut what I’ve heard.

    Also, these buses will be replacing Gilligs. They won’t just be an additon to the fllet’s overall number of coaches. After the audit, Metro can only have X number of buses. A side note to that was the Vashon Service. Metro retired all of the 3100’s (35ft Gilligs) at the beginning of shakeup, 13 of them, except 3198,3199 Center Park. Due to issues of high centering on the ferry loading ramps of the 3600’s, and the 40ft Gilligs bottoming out with the rear bumper, 8 of the 3100’s were brought out of retirement. According to someone in Vehicle Maintanence, Metro required a waiver to do this. Also in doing so, Metro was force to retire 8 40ft Gilligs because of the new rules put in place after the audit.

    So back to the Orion coach. I have a couple cell phone pictures, will be up soon. This bus was the new 2010 VII Next Generation Hybrid coach. It’s lime green, but again this is just a demo bus. The basic body style of this coach will be the same, but interior options and driver area options may change to what Metro wants.

    So check back for the pictures soon

    1. Oh and back to the Vashon Island subject. From what I hear, these Orion’s will have enough clearence to go to Vashon on the ferry. So when they arrive, the 3100 will go back to retirement and Orions will be put out on Vashon routes, which require at one time, I think 7 buses. So knowing that, Central Base will get atleast some, if not all of the 93 Orion VII Next Generation Hybrids.

  5. Any idea why it’s not possible to plan a bus trip to get to the terminal at Boeing Field?

    1. Because there is no bus service to the east side of Boeing Field.

      The only bus that went there was the peak-only 170, which was canceled in September.

      The nearest bus stop is at the north end of the field, about a mile from the terminal. (Routes 60 and 106)

      1. Is there not a need for employees to get to there, as well as anyone actually going to the terminal?

        I ask because a friend took a taxi since the walk was so far for the bus; not to mention the wait.

  6. Well, I’ve been here in San Diego 3 days now, and I have yet to use public transit.


    One thing that surprised me — no hydrogen buses at the Zoo.

  7. I hate it when articles like that Stranger article make it sound like our transit totally sucks. In reality, we have dozens of bus routes that go every 15 minutes or less for much of the day, and there are quite few bus routes in SF that don’t go very often. I guess the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence…

  8. Also, in today’s issue of the North Seattle Herald-Outlook, there’s a notice of a permit application for UW Station. The most interesting part to me, though, is that it says the permit application includes a pedstrian bridge from the Burke-Gilman Trail over NE Pacific Place and Montlake Blvd NE. So I guess they decided to go with the original pedestrian bridge plan and not the Rainier Vista + Montlake Blvd crosswalk plan!

  9. Less congestion in Seattle 2007 vs. 1997; most other cities get worse. Guess what we didn’t do? Build lots of new roads.

    It’s not clear at all what they are measuring here. Detroit has become a ghost town over the last decade. You’d think it was a boom town judging from the increased traffic congestion. Note, Detroit still seemed to make the top 10 list in 2007. It could be a sign that the bust economy has no money to spend on maintaining infrastructure whereas the Seattle metro area has been “golden”. “Hours per driver” would seem to ignore transit entirely; except for the old standby, “I’ll support transit so everybody else will clear off of my damn road.” We know that doesn’t work. According to their data the average driver wasted 6 minutes per trip in 1997 and a little less than 5 minutes in 2007. Given a huge increase in the number of jobs (it indicates the stats are for the entire urban area) just a break even would be good. We have added a lot of freeway lanes; albeit many of them HOV lanes. I wonder how much construction impacts had on the data. Was 1997 a particularly big year for construction closures? I wonder also how big the urban area is. Specifically, I’m thinking of the new Narrows Bridge which opened I believe mid year 2007.

    Here’s another list, Detroit comes in 8th. Note how bad all of California does. Their economy hasn’t exactly been gangbusters lately either. Again, another indication that spending on roads really does have an effect; who’d a thunk it :=

    A final thought. The Seattle area has seen a greater distribution of jobs (mainly DT Bellevue and Overlake (aka Microville). That coupled with an increase of in city housing (Seattle and DT Redmond, still not really that much new in DT Bellevue) probably has a big effect in allowing people to live closer to work.

    1. There’s also been plenty of infill development on the Eastside. That may tend to shorten commutes as well.

      A lot of the road construction we have had has been focused on HOV and transit access (thanks in part to ST), and for eliminating chokepoints.

    2. While its true the city of Detroit has been drastrically shrinking, the MSA for the Detroit region has not. Since 2000 its only down about -.62% and prior to that it had been increasing slightly. The CSA which draws a larger area is even more static. What this represents is the continuing trend of the local population abandoning the center and not necessarily leaving the area. (Although the recent auto-meltdown may change that). Since the traffic survey was for the region not just the city proper, I’d wager to guess that given continued flight of people from the urban areas of Detroit farther and farther outwards that their worsening commute times are tied to greater dispersion around the area and overall longer commutes.

      I don’t have time to look this up but I wonder how the average miles per commute, the average # of commuters and, the average % SOV commuters has changed over the last 10 years has changed in our region.


  10. Any news on when they will complete the bike trail along the busway from Lander to Spokane?

  11. The “Quotation of the Day” from Thursday’s New York Times ‘Headlines’ e-mail:

    “Since the day this train opened, I have never, never set foot on the plane again. Why would anyone fly?”

    CARLOS MARTÍNEZ, a lawyer, on the high-speed rail connection between Madrid and Barcelona.

  12. I don’t think you understand the meaning of the word “hypocrite.”

    If anything you’re being hypocritical by complaining about the posting of public information on the internet and then doing the very same thing.

    Why do you care so much about Gennady Filimonov’s car anyways? Perhaps it was you who was actually driving it?

    Last time I checked neither license plates nor driving records were private information, so what’s the problem? How is witnessing someone driving poorly in a video any different than witnessing it in person on a public street? Isn’t it logical to conclude that the registered owner of the car is more than likely the person who is driving it? And even if they aren’t, the owner is still responsible for loaning their car to someone who is a dangerous driver and should take more care in who they let drive their car, lest an innocent person be killed.

  13. Maybe some drivers need a good dose of public humiliation. Drivers drive aggressively because they have a fair amount of anonymity inside their metal cocoon, and behave in a way in which they never would in a more personal setting. I have no problem with documenting poor behavior on public roads and disseminating the info in a public forum and hardly think it will cause people to be bigger jerks.

  14. If by “aggressive preemptive measures” you mean “showing the crap cyclists put up with” than yes. Other than that I have no idea what the rest of your comment even means.

    BTW, learn to use the “reply to this comment link,” it makes your comments slightly easier to follow.

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