Publicola reports that Cascade Bicycle Club, Futurewise, and the Sierra Club have filed suit against the Puget Sound Regional Council challenging their Transportation 2040 plan. They contend that the plan meets neither state VMT reduction or CO2 reduction laws – instead preserving the car-centric status quo.

During T2040’s public comment period, there were five options to choose from corresponding with differing levels of transit and highway investment. Alternative 5 was the option with the most transit, and the majority of public comment on the plan favored 5 – or even more transit investment than 5.

All of the PSRC options are projected to see CO2 growth, rather than reduction. The PSRC doesn’t appear to have studied an option that would reduce transportation-related CO2 emissions at all, despite state law requiring a 50% reduction from 1990 levels by 2050.

86 Replies to “Environmental Groups File Suit Against PSRC”

  1. I’m going to say this up front for discussion: bicycles will NEVER significantly displace motor-vehicle (car/bus/train) usage in Seattle.

    Thus, significant spending for self-propelled vehicle modes should only come after spending for roads and tracks.

    (I can’t stand SOV culture myself, and if we could have all-city light rail today I’d sell my car, but this is what it is.)

    1. Oh, I disagree. I think if we actually had bicycle infrastructure, we would see non-“hardcore cyclists” riding much more. A lot of the major destinations in the city are in lowlands, and have relatively flat routes between them. They’re just dangerous commutes.

      1. I’m going to agree with Ben. If you don’t invest in the infrastructure, you’ll always be stuck with the car.

        Quick anecdotal analogy. At my university I attended, students complained about where their money was going and how it wasn’t going to directly benefit them, but now if you look back and see how far the campus has progressed and the benefits that current students are reaping, those initial investments were well worth it. Same can be said here – I may not see the benefits of starting the build the proper infrastructure here in Seattle during my lifetime, but it will eventually come. We all need to remember that we will only be around for 80-100 years… the city will continue to be here long after we’re dead so we need to make continual improvements even though we may not directly benefit from them in our lifetime.

      2. The destinations and their connections may lie in the lowlands, but the people live above them. Easy to get down, but getting back up is tricky. It’d be a bitch to cycle from, say Green Lake to Ballard unless there was a tunnel. Or 45th to downtown. Some of the only biking areas I can think of w/o hitting big hills are north of Northgate (but it lacks the density to make it really easy to bike. I gave up biking around Lynnwood years ago b/c it took forever to get from A to B not because I didn’t have space to bike, but because nothing is close), Freemont to Downtown, Industrial district to downtown, the Renton Valley to downtown, within Ranier Valley, and within the big hills of Cap, QA, and West Seattle. Those seem like the only viable cycling areas for regular Joes and Janes. The topography makes it difficult to cycle in the Puget Sound Region. I’m in pretty good shape and I still can’t do it. The weather doesn’t help either.

        If we begin to give cyclists and pedestrains exclusive ROW (beyond sidewalks: dedicated lanes, bridges, tunnels, etc.), it’d be much more logical and economical to put trains and buses in said right of way. We’d be able to move more people faster and more comfortabally. Just like building the Link. We don’t put bikes or buses or BRT in those new right-of-ways we’re creating, we put trains. The Burke-Gilman train is cool, but it’s a poor use of the corridor considering it’s wide enough for rail, travels though dense areas, and is intact well east of Kirkland and west to Ballard. We just can’t get ROW that easy anymore. Or the Interurban trail. It’s ASTONISHING the Link isn’t going to utilize that ROW. Get the rails away from I-5, allowing TOD to develop. People don’t want to live next to a freeway (which isn’t going away any time soon) and nobody does. But people are willing to live next to a transit line.

        Electric vehicles, more rail and transit. It’s not the pretty, ideal transit future, but it’s far more realistic. It’d be wonderful to have a pro-biking mindset like Europe, but they also have many other factors that do not allow them to exapnd roadways, so alternatives are their only choice. Personally, I’d like to see us have a more effective transit system first, to steer the most people away from their vehicles.

      3. The beauty of investments in bike infrastructure is that they’re incredibly cheap. A mere drop in the bucket compared to your suggested rail improvements. For example, Portland’s entire bike infrastructure is equivalent in cost to just 1 mile of urban freeway. Even if you personally are turned off by the geography and weather (as many undeniably are), there is a significant chunk of people that are turned off primarily by the lack of perceived safety. The return on investment of bike safety improvements is just too huge to ignore.

      4. Exactly! Remember paint is cheap and that is mostly what we are talking about.

      5. I have one word to add here: “Electric Assisted Bicycles”

        The beauty of an electric bicycle is that most of the mass of the rider and vehicle and load is not the vehicle, so you can get by with a much smaller motor/battery than you need with an electric car. You can easily go 25mph which is fast enough for local errands, and with a cargo configuration you can carry kids, groceries whatever.

        Its not a full replacement for all the uses of a car/truck/regular bicycle but it fills a big niche.

      6. Did you seriously just suggest replacing the city’s most popular bike trail with light rail?

        The thing is, I can think of so many great reasons to do this. The rail-trail act was intended largely to preserve rail ROWs in case they ever became viable rail corridors again. And Children’s Hospital-Ballard via U Village, Husky Stadium and Fremont would be an excellent solution for a corridor that needs rail. And it would be basically all cheap surface construction, but yet with few street crossings and fast service. 7 or 8 miles of track, possibly around $60 million/mile, so maybe $500 million? To get from Ballard to Husky Stadium (and the Link station) faster than you can drive.

        In short, don’t even think about it.

      7. If we go from Ballard to the U-District, it’ll probably be in the 45th corridor, not along the edge. Putting rail along the water just wastes money, you can’t develop on both sides of it.

      8. But Fremont and Ballard are already densest by the water, especially when it comes to job density. Yeah, ideally I’d like to see a surface and tunnel along 45th, hitting Wallingford but probably trading Fremont for the zoo, but that’s going to cost 3 times as much just to connect Ballard to UW, let alone Children’s. I still think that would be worthwhile, but we could do a lot more with the same money if we had options like this.

      9. Ballard is not densest by the water. The Ballard Hub Urban Village is centered around Ballard Ave and Market St.

      10. No, it is at least ten blocks from the water. Market is what 55th would be. The southbound Ballard Bridge approach rises over 45th.

        I walk between Ballard and Interbay every day. In fact, I typed this reply on my phone, walking past the Loft.

      11. Look at a map, the ship canal curves north to the west of the Ballard Bridge. 26th Ave only makes it south to 54th before hitting the water. It’s the same with Ballard Ave, the only street to the west of it is Shilshole which is itself right next to the water.

      12. Are you perhaps looking at Ballard Way and 15th Ave? That is not near the center of the urban village. The area you’re referring to is on the border of the Ballard-Interbay Industrial Area.

        Check out the map on page 1.8 of the Seattle Comprehensive Plan for an idea of where the Hub Urban Village boundaries extend.

      13. Kyle, you should look at that map yourself. Or better yet, look at this one. From Dock Place west to 32nd Avenue, the Ballard HUV’s southern bound is the Ballard Terminal RR tracks, which is a stone’s throw from the water at several points along there. (When Kyle says “the Burke Gilman”, he is probably referring to the Missing Link portion.)

        The Loft, which is within the Ballard Urban Village boundaries, is barely 500 feet from the ship canal.

      14. And the map clearly shows the village extending up all the way to 65th St, from 32nd Ave to 8th Ave. As I said five posts up, “The Ballard Hub Urban Village is centered around Ballard Ave and Market St.” That location is not two blocks from the ship canal, and the neighborhood is plainly not densest near the water.

      15. Okay, I think I see where the misunderstanding is here—and yes, it’s mostly mine. There is the shipyard and waterfront access near the intersection of Ballard and Market on Shilshole. But it is nowhere near the densest industrial activity, which surrounds the bridge, extending mostly to the east. Which is why I thought Eric L was referring to that area.

      16. BTW, Green Lake to Ballard isn’t that bad on a bike. Go around the north end of the lake to Green Lake Ave, cross Aurora to 83rd, over 83rd to 8th, down 8th to 63rd or so, then west to wherever you want to go in Ballard. The biggest hill is up 83rd to Linden west of Aurora, and that’s neither long nor all that steep.

      17. To some extent I agree with you. Until the city deals with the hills, it won’t get the masses onto bikes. Take Dexter, where the city wants to replace the bike lane with a cycletrack. Not only will this do nothing good for bike safety, it also doesn’t fix the main reason many folks avoid riding that route: the hill. Westlake, on the other hand, is completely is flat and could easily accomodate cyclists, but the city ignores both it and the increasing numbers of the cyclists who use it. Of course, Westlake used to be a RR ROW that’s wide enough for cars, rail and bikes, but the city gave it all to cars.

        Nonetheless, I have to criticize some of your examples. I just clicked out a route from the Ballard Library to the Green Lake Library on North to 58th, west to 14th (there’s a light to cross 15th), north to 65th, east to 8th, north to 83rd (there’s a bike lane on 8th), then west to Green Lake Way. Total elevation gain of 271 ft, max grade of 3%, 4.2 miles. Surely you can manage that. And 45th to Downtown? Assuming you mean 45th in Wallingford, try taking Woodlawn and Carr to get from 45th to Fremont: aside from a half-block that has an 8% grade (which you should feel free to walk, not ride), the 1.5-mile section has a 3% grade and is non-arterial so you can go as slow as you want. If you take Westlake, the rest of the route is pretty much flat. Taking Dexter adds a half-mile at 5%.

        I think the biggest problem in getting folks to move from cars to bikes is getting them to stop thinking like drivers. Drivers generally just take the most direct route, but bikers usually want the most flat route, and it can be hard to know what those are if you’ve only ever driven from A to B. The city bike map does have gradient indicators which can be useful for determining least hilly routes, but often times experience (or clicking out different options on VeloRoutes) is the only way to really figure out the best way to get from A to B on a bike. is also a great resource.

      18. Andreas, what on earth do you mean the Dexter cycletrack will “do nothing good for bike safety”?? This project is rife with bike safety improvements. That said, I totally agree that Westlake provides an awesome opportunity for a flat route to SLU and downtown from all points northwest, but it doesn’t have to be an either or with Dexter.
        There is slight mention of studying/improving Westlake Ave in the Bicycle Master Plan, but unless it is considered for an SDOT road diet, the next best opportunity for seriously transforming it might be when/if the streetcar is finally extended to Fremont.

      19. Dexter already has a ton of cyclists on it every day. There are bicycle traffic jams at every red light with dozens of bicycles lined up in the bike lane. I think that shows that lots of people will deal with hills.

      20. I would wager most of them are wearing spandex.

        If you’re serious enough to wear spandex, you’re not the kind of commuter who needs convincing to take a bike.

      21. @Archie: See this section of the “Cycle path debate” article on Wikipedia for reasons why I believe a segregated cycle track will be worse than the current bike lane. The proposed Dexter track isn’t wide enough to allow cyclists to safely pass, it will still overlap with some of the door zone, and it will decrease visibility of cyclists. Cascade Bicycle Club has expressed concerns with the Dexter plan for these sorts of reasons. I intend to go to the City’s open house to express my disappointment with the plan to SDOT.

        @alexjonlin: I’m not arguing with SDOT’s claim that Dexter is the most used cycle route in the city (presumably they mean non-trail). But I almost always take Westlake because I’m not looking to get sweaty and I don’t like riding in the door zone, which is where the Dexter bike lane is. And it seems like every day I see more and more cyclists on Westlake, both in the parking lot half (where I usually ride), and on the road. I realize it’s purely anecdotal, but it seems to me that while the hardcore commuters (panniers, spandex) tend to take Dexter, casual riders (fixies, cruisers) tend to take Westlake. Most of these users, unfortunately, do not ride as defensively as they should, to say nothing of the lack of helmets and the use of headphones. As the ranks of new, less hardcore riders increases, I expect Westlake to be more of a problem spot than Dexter.

      22. @Kyle S: You’re right. The Dexter crowd is by and large wearing spandex. I tried commuting to work by that route in my work clothes and ended up soaking through my shirt. So I switched to the more leisurely ride along the Westlake parking lot and enjoyed it much more. Of course once you reach South Lake Union there’s not much of a route into Downtown.

        @Andreas: Lots of Europeans don’t have the hangups with simply dismounting when they reach a steep hill. There’s nothing wrong with walking those steep grades to avoid getting sweaty, and it’s probably almost as fast.

      23. @Squints: Don’t worry, I pretty regularly dismount when I hit a hill :) I was just trying to encourage Mike B to be unafraid to do so as well.

        And, yeah, the city should better sign the route from Westlake to the 9th and Dexter bike routes, which is usually where I head once I hit SLU.

      24. “The destinations and their connections may lie in the lowlands, but the people live above them. Easy to get down, but getting back up is tricky.”

        In Hong Kong, public escalators are used. (Covered, to deal with the rain.)

      25. Probably the biggest thing I learned from Adam’s Bikeability Analysis is that the Seattle Center City actually has huge potential, largely due to historic regrades! Maybe the whole city won’t have a large share of bike trips, but it can be in areas adding a lot of housing in the coming decades: the flatter parts of downtown, Belltown, Lower Queen Anne, South Lake Union, etc. There is absolutely no reason this area can’t be a biking paradise.

        Also, as others have pointed out there are flat routes from downtown to Fremont and Ballard that could be suitable for casual riders without huge expense. Maybe cycling up Phinney Ridge would be left to the spandex crowd, but their 6% plus Copenhagen levels in the center city would be quite significant.

      26. Mike,

        I wrote to ST a couple of years ago advocating the use of the Interurban ROW north of 110th for exactly the reason you state: there is spectacular opportunity for “string of pearls” TOD between Linden and Aurora as far as 160th and Midvale and Aurora north of there. Aurora is lined with JUNK for five miles, junk that could be wiped away and replaced by a dynamic northend urban neighborhood with tremendous access to employment.

        Instead nearly everyone who rides Link north of Northgate will be Park and Ride, Kiss and Ride or bus transfer riders. Almost no one will walk to the train; there is no opportunity for any TOD except possibly at Mountlake Terrace, but the station there is too close to the freeway and already hemmed in to the east by a significant hill.

        They wrote back and said they had considered using the ROW but rejected it as being two and a half miles longer and requiring a lot of elevated construction.

        I can see that if they want a BART-style system the selected I-5 route makes more sense. But if they wanted a BART-style system why did they choose LRT technology? If you’re going to heavy rail station spacing and speeds (e.g. a Regional Metro), it’s cheaper during construction and much less expensive for ongoing maintenance to use third rail power.

        We can only hope that someone who understands what Light Rapid Transit is good at will act to preserve a right of way along the south side of Evergreen Washelli to access the Interurban strip and halt all encroachment on the ROW north of there, at least to Aurora Village. A surface LRT line along there could operate like the Riverside Line in Boston or the Twin Peaks lines in San Francisco: fairly frequent stops in a “collector” area connected to a high-capacity trunk leading to the CBD.

      27. I think the Interurban alignment would be too far out of the way to get enough riders from the areas in Lynnwood and to the north. I think some kind of short jaunt over from Northgate to serve Jackson Park and North City along 15th instead of the freeway would be good, though. that would also allow for the Mountlake Terrace station to be more in the proposed Downtown Mountlake Terrace area, while probably not adding more the a half or three quarters of a mile.

      28. Maybe for some tricycle designs but not all. I’m paraplegic and my arm cycle has three wheels. The two rear wheels aren’t any further apart then the distance between my two shoulders. I would be just as wide on an upright two wheeler.

      29. I just wish drivers kept better track of their surroundings. I’ve been in some close cases with my recumbent trike on the road.

      30. Ben is right on this one. I’m not a fan of the whole “it can’t happen here” mentality. There are many prime examples worldwide. In any case, I’m glad they are filing suit. If not for bikes, to nix new highway building, and increasing infrastructure funding for sidewalks and transit.

    2. But I don’t think it requires “significant” spending (however that’s defined). It’s just a matter of more intelligent planning. As it sits now about 20% of the budget for any road project in Bellevue is related to ADA compliance (max grade, avoiding obstructions, etc.). Adding mandatory bike standards shouldn’t add that much more.

      1. Adding mandatory bike standards to *new roadwork* won’t do a thing to reduce our CO2. Not building the road at all is a good start.

      2. By new I was including projects that repair or upgrade the existing network. It seems like in Bellevue they always include a left turn lane even if there’s nowhere to turn left. Sometimes they put in bike lanes. Sometimes there’s a bike lane on one side but not the other and almost always the bike lane is a short stretch that connects to nothing and disappears at intersections. If there was a uniform standard there would eventually be a decent network. Kirkland and Redmond have done a decent job on their own.

    3. Bikes will never be the primary mode of transportation, but they can serve a big role in our transition from just automobiles to sustainable transportation. A huge proportion of automobile trips are just a couple miles or less. However, these trips can’t be easily replaced by transit because they are so short that it is not worth it to wait for even a frequent bus or streetcar or light rail line. Bikes can fill in that gap. Also, bikes can extend the rider area for urban, park-and-ride-less light rail stations greatly, as many people will be perfectly willing to bike a mile or two to a station and then get on a train to their destination.

      1. You know, I used to think that a bicycle could never be my “primary” form of transportation, but then I did the math. I ride 14 miles each way to work, when I do that, I’m riding about 140 miles a week. Then I added up all the other trips I take in my car. Two trips to the grocery store (I still need to buy a cargo bike to fix this) 5 miles rt. = 10/wk. Two dinners out, rt 10 ea ’cause sometimes I go close and sometimes back into Seattle, and I’m not taking a bus with my wife at 10pm home = 20/wk. Once a month to Costco rt 10miles. Misc trips 10 miles rt/wk.

        assuming a 4 week Month. (avg)
        riding 560 miles.
        car 170

        and in fact, I am riding my bicycle as my “primary” transportation. The car is still essential to life in the burbs (and could be reduced with a decent electric cargo bike) but it’s still used 3x as much! (in miles!)

    4. Infrastructure Number One: Sidewalks.

      You can eliminate a vast number of very short car trips if people have either sidewalks, or walkable roads with speed limits of about 15 mph (which is actually harder to get politically).

      1. Well you need more mixed use projects everywhere to produce trips that short and eliminate all those long trips to the mall.

    5. Define “Significant”? 5%? 25%? 50%?

      You really should be looking at the cost vs. benefit of cycling infrastructure. As mentioned below, cycling infrastructure is really cheap. Portland has around a 25% cycling mode share for the cost of a mile urban freeway. That’s a bargain no matter how you look at it.

      When you consider that many cycling project involve traffic calming that improve motorist and pedestrian safety, that improves the picture even more.

    6. Bike penetration into the transportation market has little to do with this suit. The suit is all about how T2040 is not delivering the VMT and consequent GHG reduction goals. No one is saying that the transition must be to bikes. That perspective seems errantly driven by the fact that the Clubs and Futurewise are filing the suit.

  2. (What spurs this thought: bike riders joining a lawsuit like this implies they feel differently.)

    1. Just not building highways doesn’t get you anywhere close to an 80% or even 50% reductions. The additional capacity proposed is a drop in the bucket compared to what our highways and surface roads support anyway. You could aggressively toll the highways. In fact the PSRC calls for tolling all the major highways but they don’t think traffic will shrink. You could bulldoze the highways — that would probably have an effect but I doubt a 50% reduction. The PSRC study suggests the main way transportation CO2 emissions can be reduced is by policy changes calling for higher fuel efficiencies. I actually agree that on the 2050 time frame, what kind of vehicles we drive will have a bigger impact on CO2 emissions than how much highway we have to drive them on, though changes in development patterns due to the transportation infrastructure can make a big difference over the long term.

      1. Aggressive tolling and transit investment, with no new miles of highway, would probably do the trick.

      2. It would take very aggressive tolling to convince people to leave 50% of our highway capacity unused, and that’s before you consider all the traffic on surface streets (which would go up with the highway tolling). It would be hard to toll all the surface streets, but then you’d probably have to toll all the congestion points — let’s say, all ship canal crossings and everything going under/over the Spokane Street Viaduct and I-90 in Seattle. And of course you’d need similar surface street tolling locations throughout the region. Still think it would have to be pretty steep tolling to get to 50%, but it would do wonders for traffic.

      3. Maybe, though I’d really like to see someone try to write up a plan along these lines that would plausibly go far enough.

        I do prefer a tolling solution to one that relies primarily on road diets, though, because we’ll need the buses to run quickly or we’ll need a much higher operating subsidy to run them.

      4. Technology has to be part of the solution. There simply is no way to meet CO2 targets without significantly higher MPG or alternative fuel vehicles.

      5. Basecally, you need to rebuild I-5 from Olympia to Everett, incorporating HOV lanes where there are none, extending some general purpose lanes (through seattle, towards DuPont), adding HOV lanes on the entire corridor, with dedicated accesses and freeway stations at key locations with attached P&R lots. Incorporating into this the HOT lane type seperation of the HOV from general purpose, installing the new traffic monitoring system, and adding a modest, but variable toll, keeping the toll rates in-line with whats being charged for the 520 bridge. not to mention, adding a modest user fee for P&R lots to help cover expenses. A hard pill to digest for any motorist, however the benefits outweigh the fees.

        The main goals of the project would be to expand HOV capasity, which wold be un-tolled, seperate it from GP lanes to keep it flowing. Toll GP lanes to help pay for the improvements, and alliviate some of the congetsion to keep vehicles moving and not stuck at idle. The added capasity while it would attract more motorists in some areas; the tolls would help offset that as well. This would need to be supplemented by improved bus service in some areas, however thats a seperate discussion.

      6. “Aggressive Tolling” would have unintended consequences of reducing economic activity which is geared on mobility. Road diets as far as I can see are a form of harassment or deliberately induced traffic jams.

        Unless and until viable alternative infrastructure comes online that offers real and attractive alternatives to car transportation, I suggest stop warring on the car. The 3.4 million people in the metropolitan area are not going to suddenly move and live within the boundaries of the city of Seattle. They are going to continue to live where they live and work where they work. Whether its a airplane factory in Everett, a missile factory in Kent, a military base in Bremerton, or a university in Seattle. All of these places have unique transportation needs and currently the car is the solution. But, for instance, the discussion of late about a possible Duwamish by-pass would be an attractive option for tens of thousands of Boeing workers to get to work at the facilities near Boeing Field. Extensions of Link south of 200th in combination with stops near BFI would also offer Boeing commuters more options.

        Further, with regard to bikes and walking don’t assume that every person in this country is a 20 something athlete or that we will magically become a nation of super fit perpetually young power walkers. It ain’t gonna happen. But it is right and good to incorporate planning for walking and biking for those who are able and willing to choose that mode.

        Peak Oil will do it’s part to de-incentivise the car, we don’t need to add further antagonism to taxpayers. If we build an attractive multi-mode transportation system, people will come and come gladly out of their cars.

      7. I don’t think you understand road diets. By taking away the traffic and uncertainty associated with multiple lanes, road diets often increase throughput, or at least increase speeds with throughput constant.

        Road diets take away road space, but not traffic capacity, at least not if they’re done in the right places.

      8. @Steve (and many others): Please, quit confusing “capacity” with “utilization”. Road Diets ALWAYS take away capacity. The whole premise of Road Diets is that since those roads in question are not utilized to full capacity, the performance of the road will not be compromised.

        @Charles: Yes, not EVERYONE will get out and ride a bike. But how many might be able to? 10%, 20% maybe even 30% of the population? If just 5% shifted from car to bicycle that would make a noticeable improvement in traffic flow.

        The PSRC makes a good effort for funding alternate modes, but it doesn’t go far enough. Unless a serious chunk of change is taken out of the highway expansion money pot and either put into other modes or given back to the taxpayers, then cars might always be the predominant mode. And the kicker is that bicycle infrastructure is incredibly cheap. For example, $15 million buys all of Tacoma’s long term bicycle needs and $240 million funds Seattle’s Bicycle Master Plan.

      9. “capacity” of a corridor is not the same as lane capacity. If a road is 4 lanes for most of its length, but most traffic passes through a 2 lane section at the end, you can remove lanes in the middle without taking away vehicle capacity. Seattle has a lot of these because of roads converging near small bridges (Montlake, Fremont, etc).

      10. @Capacity: In the particular section with the Road Diet, removing 2 lanes of traffic is removing 2 lanes of traffic is removing capacity. The argument about the effect of conditions further downstream/upstream works both ways. Look at it this way, if said downstream/upstream bottleneck went on a “Road Indulgence” then perhaps the capacity not utilized in the 4 lane section targeted for the Road Diet in question might then be utilized closer to its capacity.

      11. OK, I’m really beating this topic to death, but I thought of a better way to describe the road diet capacity argument I’m making.

        Say you have a pipe that can handle 100 cubic feet of liquid per minute immediately followed by a pipe that can only handle 50 cubic feet of liquid per minute, but only 40 cubic feet of liquid per minute is flowing through this section of pipes. So, the pipe that can handle 100 cubic feet of liquid per minute has excess capacity and thus can go on a diet to be replaced by a pipe that can handle 50 cubic feet of liquid per minute, but nonetheless that particular pipe looses 50% of its original capacity.

      12. Tolling is administratively inefficient, its only virtue being that you can target the specific roads on which you wish to dis-incentivize driving. Gas taxes do the trick, everywhere, on the cheap.

  3. It’s really hard to take the PSRC seriously sometimes. Their attitude seems to be “more roads and ok a little transit just to shut you yuppies up.”

    1. Unfortunately, they make the rules, to a large extent. And they’re far behind the population.

  4. What is PSRC, or I guess a more interesting question is, are they powerful enough to get in our way when we want a good transit plan?

    1. Yes, they are. They are a planning body for 4 counties that have mayors and county executives that vote for plans issued by the Puget Sound Regional Council. I’m not sure what implications council members have with it though. Basically, the suburban cities are more than powerful enough to get in the way of a good transit plan–and they did. But, the politics of it all are more complicated than that. Even Tacoma and Everett are at odds with some of the Seattle-centric mentality that the PSRC has when the region is actually a polycentric urban region. Oooh, okay, I’m going to stop there before this turns into a rant…

    2. The material effect is that PSRC plans affect the funneling of federal dollars into the region. Put more transit and fewer roads in the plan, and the proportion of federal bucks to transit is likely to go up.

  5. How long until we can start planning for turning 405 into the new I5 and getting rid of the current I5 in Seattle?

  6. Also, we need to get rid of the 18th, then join with other like minded states (like what is being down with GHG emissions) to collectively raise gas taxes.

    1. It’s pretty ridiculous that we tax something with so many negative externalities and then use the tax money to further encourage its use.

  7. Do we know how much CO2 reduction resulted from light rail as a function of the capital + operating investment? How does it compare with other transit investments placed in the model.

  8. Most people will find it difficult to take a bike to the store or drop a child off at daycare prior to going to work while riding a bike. What the Seattle area needs to do is to open the transportation market so that the area can develop long term solutions. We need jitneys, ride sharing taxis, buses and a host of other services.

    Light rail, streetcars and other track type systems are not flexible enough. They do not provide door to door services that are needed. Given the small amount of passengers the system presently carries we are going to have to build a lot of rail just to make a difference or buy a bunch of buses and whether or not the tax payers will put up the dollars is a question we need to ask.

    Some have suggested that widespread use of jitneys could reduce CO2 emissions by 50% or more and while I think that number is too high the solution is worth considering.

    1. I like the idea of even more transportation options, but I have to argue that there’s no reason for one solution such as biking to work for “most people”. Dropping off kids at daycare and stopping at the store already work for some people, and with improvements could work for more. My kids aren’t in daycare, but I have coworkers who do this on a bike–pretty straightforward with a kids seat or trailer as long as there’s a daycare close to work (as there are at UW). I do bike to stores, libraries, and so on.

      1. And again, a cargo bike with an electric assist makes these sort of trips reasonable. And yes it does force you to watch the weather and time your trips a bit but it’s not like we don’t live in a temperate rain forest. Most of the time you just get wet.

    2. Many people with short- to medium-length commutes will bike to work, a significant portion of the population. But larger numbers of people will take light rail, streetcars, buses, or any combination thereof to work and on their errands. We can’t expect there to be door-to-door service but we can expect frequent service on most major through arterials, with convenient service from everywhere outside of the range of a light rail station to the station.

  9. For the record, this document contains the numbers on C02 emissions.

    Page 11 in the pdf has a nice chart and states the following:

    As illustrated in the chart, the Four-Part Greenhouse Gas Strategy results in a range of emissions reductions between 31% and 48% below the 2040 Baseline trend, and between 5% and 28% below 2006 modeled emissions in the year 2040. As a comparison, the state’s greenhouse gas emission reduction goals are to achieve 1990 levels by 2020, 25% below 1990 levels by 2035, and 50% below 1990 levels by 2050.

    1. I did not find the lawsuit “well described” in your link. The lawsuit itself turned out to be very informative – and real short – in the link you posted below.

  10. I am glad this comment thread finally got around to the subject of the post. (Don’t take that comment wrong- I enjoyed the Great Bicycle Debate- I was just more interested in the actual subject at hand.

    Kudos to Futurewise et al for their action. As someone who attended many of the Policy Board and Executive Board meetings where this plan was developed, I can tell you it was a very sad experience in public policy making. Absolutely no one on these boards was willing to make any hard decisions. Or maybe some were willing but they certainly didn’t fight hard or attempt to find potential allies. Instead, the committees just bent to whatever whim of the day came along- promising to make real decisions later.

    In the end, an elected official I generally admire- County Councilmember Julia Paterson- made the sad argument that members of the Executive Board should vote to adopt the plan because they had spent so much time on it! In other words, “it doesn’t matter that we didn’t really develop a good plan, we need to adopt it because we’ve spent so much time screwing it up.”

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