53 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Urban Biking Tips”

  1. From the just released ST 2011 draft budget:
    “In 2011, activities will be focused on ORCA data analysis and reporting, development of
    a multi-modal trip planner, regional real-time vehicle location, regional mobile application
    development, Sounder onboard WIFI and communications upgrade, and cell phone
    tunnel coverage”
    Lots of goodies for the transit junkies to look forward to.

    1. I wonder who (if anyone) decided to pick up cell coverage. From what I hear, adding the coverage was mostly a monetary investment and (relatively) little engineering work.

      PT already has GPS working on their coaches; Metro should have their project done by that time, which just leaves Children’s Transit for routes 510/511/513/532/535.

      Sounder communications upgrades? I didn’t know BNSF was leaving VHF conventional. I don’t see why they would, either.

    2. Good to hear they’re revamping the trip planner, but I think we all saw that coming. Hopefully a new multi-agency, regional transit website is in the works.

    1. Why does AmTrack not publish all routes into the Default Standard format that Google and most others use? 9yes i hate the fact that the defacto standard is associated by name to one specific company ;)

  2. Some more promising news from the ST 2011 budget. Central Link ridership will climb about 25% next year to average about 31,700 weekday riders. That’s a significant growth rate, reaching 28,500 by this years end, and 33,000 by next years end.

    1. I think the correct phrase is some promising projections. I wonder what they’re basing the expected growth on?

    2. Mike, is that sarcasm? Or do you actually believe ST’s Link ridership will will increase as you say they are projecting?

      If ST is honestly expecting Link ridership to increase by almost 5,000 per weekday between August and the end of this year, it is sort of curious that they are going to reduce capacity by operating one-car “trains” in the evenings starting next weekend.

      1. Your evening joy ride will be little more crowded. Sorry, Norman.

        “We apologize for the inconvenience.” — God’s Final Message to His Creation

      2. No sarcasm, Norman. I just found the budget projections to be interesting, and thought I’d pass it along.
        I don’t think a 25% increase is to ‘far-fetched’, as the recent growth rates have been up to 5% per month, and Link should get a boost next month from RapidRide A, with twice as much service as the 174 provided.
        Higher gasoline prices would certainly provide a boost.
        Let’s wait and see, huh?

      3. Norman, do you promise to tell us the first time you have to stand on a Link train, and when/if it becomes common?

      4. I have pretty much stopped riding Link now that ST has come out with their station-by-station boarding/deboarding figures, which correspond almost exactly with my own counts. That was the main reason why I was riding Link so much, and now that ST has confirmed my own observations, there is not much reason for me to ride it any more. I do plan to take some trips in October, though, to see if the end of cruise ship, and the tourist season in general, has any significant effect on Link ridership.

        I should never have to stand on Link trains, since I ride end-to-end, which means I either boatd at Westlake or SeaTac. I have never seen anything close to more passengers than seats at the terminus stations, and would not expect to ever see that. If that ever happened — if trains were standing-room-only after just the first station on the line — then I would think ST would have to consider making trains longer, not shorter. Or, making headways shorter.

        But, I am not expecting Link ridership to increase after September. I am expecting it to be lower in the fall and winter than it was in this past summer. Which is why I find ST’s most-recent ridership projection of an average of 25,000 riders per weekday for all of 2010 extremely optimistic, particularly since Link has not yet averaged 25,000 per weekday in any month since it begain operating.

      5. Have you ever seen ANYone have to stand on a Link train at Columbia City, let alone an “old lady”? Maybe to or from a Mariners game there may be some standers at Columbia City. But I don’t go to M’s games. So, this has never been a consideration for me — I have never seen an “old lady” standing on Link train, and have never seen anyone standing on a Link train at Columbia City station.

        Apparently, you don’t ride Link much, eh Ryan?

      6. Actually I do, and I have given up my seat on many a time because the train was crowded. Last Saturday, for instance. But I was mostly joking.

      7. “Have you ever seen ANYone have to stand on a Link train at Columbia City”

        Yes, but you will no doubt discount my observations and being inferior to yours.

      8. I have pretty much stopped riding Link now that ST has come out with their station-by-station boarding/deboarding figures, which correspond almost exactly with my own counts.

        You stopped riding Link because they released statistics? That’s an unusual reason to switch modes, to say the least.

      9. “Have you ever seen ANYone have to stand on a Link train at Columbia City”

        All the time. The trains are routinely standing room only leaving University Street Station between 5:00 and 6:00pm during the week and don’t usually thin out until Othello or Rainier Beach. Not that you care or will believe me though.

      10. Zed, I don’t believe you, and there is no reason I should. Just look at ST’s station-by-station boardings and deboardings. After leaving the downtown tunnel in the pm, when there are usually no more than a few people who might “have to” stand on any car, a lot more passengers get off than on at Beacon Hill, Mt. Baker and Columbia City stations. So, there is nobody who “has to” stand heading south past Columbia City. Except, possibly, heading home from an event in Seattle, like a Mariners game.

        The official ST stats show this. My trips and counts confirm this.

        Why should I pay any attention to anyone’s anecdotes, now that we have the offical boardings station-by-station from ST?

        And I did not “change modes”. I have no reason to ride Link other than to just observe how ridership is evolving. I don’t ride from downtown to the airport by other “modes” now. I just never go to the airport, other than a couple of trips I made in Sept to pick up friends at the airport and bring them to Seattle in my car. They have no interest at all in riding Link.

        I’ll be taking family members to the airport and picking them up a week later in my car in October, also. Nobody I know ever uses Link to get to or from the airport, or anywhere else.

      11. Norman said: Nobody I know ever uses Link to get to or from the airport, or anywhere else.

        So what? The ridership statistics you love to cite show that 25,000 riders per day are riding Link including plenty to the Airport. So you live somehwere not served by Link and you don’t know anyone who rides transit to the airport or any other destination currently served by Link. So what?

  3. I was reading some of Don Sherwood’s park histories and noticed this tidbit: “The Madison St. Line was one of the more successful cable routes, for on a summer Sunday cars ran every two minutes – ‘everyone in Seattle went to Madison Park!'” Service every 2 minutes in the freaking 1890s. Damn.

    1. Funny, eh? We ripped up all those lines to make room for cars in the name of progress and now we’re trying to figure out how the hell to get them all back. Sad state of affairs.

      1. Not really. Lot’s of streetcar lines failed for various reasons. Very few are under consideration to return a century later.

      2. “Very few are under consideration to return a century later.”

        … only because we can’t afford to rebuild all of them now. And land use and travel patterns have changed in the intermediate sixty years, so they wouldn’t all be the exact same routes. One thing that would change is we wouldn’t have so many routes going directly downtown.

  4. Does anyone know if this is the last weekend of the Lake Washington Blvd. bike days? It seems that it happened earlier this year (early May) and has remained in place longer (late Septemeber) than in most years past. Does anyone know if this has changed or maybe I’m noticing it more since I’m a regular biker now? :-)

  5. Got a report that an hour ago a large boat crashed into something on the Seattle waterfront.

    Just confirmed it was the West Seattle Water Taxi that hit a dock.

    Possibly 10+ injured. Seattle Fire has sent lots of rigs down there: Public Information Officer, Engine 6, Deputy 1, Aid 2, Medic 44, (Harbor) Patrol 4, Ladder 10, Battalion 2, Engine 4, Engine 5, Ladder 1, Medic 1

    1. Bummer. I just rode it yesterday for the first time and really enjoyed the ride. I’ve posted pictures on the Flickr pool. Hopefully they can figure out what the problem was and fix it…

      1. Bad news, obviously, but I do like reading that there were 78(!) people on board. Does anyone know if that’s just extra Seahawks traffic, or does the taxi regularly get that busy on a Sunday morning?

      2. Answering my own question: the PI’s story says, “Some 78 passengers and crew were aboard the water taxi — mostly Seahawks fans heading for a game with the San Diego Chargers”

      3. I didn’t count passengers yesterday but it was probably pretty close to that. I figured it was because the weather was so nice and that today would be much lighter. The shuttle I took back to the boat (775) was almost full. Turns out today’s numbers were probably higher because of the game.

        I gotta say, I was a skeptic on the Ferry District, but this thing seems pretty viable. If the fare recovery numbers are anywhere near the 40+% I’ve heard here, this thing just might be a keeper. (Well, if they can get a reliable control system for the boats and stop crashing into docks)

      4. The last significant ferry collision here was in August 2009, when a ferryboat serving the Seattle-Bainbridge route ran into Colman Dock.

        I’ve only lived here since 1965, what’s wrong with ferryboat? Granted, you’d normally just say ferry but it’s not like saying THE 405. Is ferryboat associated with some other region? Perhaps a bit of excess verbage… most ferries are boats. but according to Wikipedia; “A ferry (or ferryboat) is a form of transportation, usually a boat, but sometimes a ship,” I don’t want to get into the debate about boat/vessel/ship. Now, if you call a line a rope.. them’s fightin’ words :=

  6. The end of Westlake closed this week in preparation for the streetcar plaza. And Lake Union Park finally opened yesterday, giving more reason to take the streetcar.

    1. i thought it was going to be more NYCDOT style with cheap simple painted-sand ground with many tables, chairs and umbrellas but the lastest rendering shows a more permanent plaza design with little furniture.

  7. One question I have regarding the differences between the Breda and Hybrid eras in the DSTT:

    Back in the Breda era, it was common for the driver to disable the bell within the DSTT since he/she would automatically stop at every station. Makes perfect sense. However, when the hybrids took over, the drivers do not disable the bell within the DSTT.

    The question is…WHY? Probably because the Hybrids were equipped with wheelchair signals while the Bredas were not, but I just wanted to confir.

    1. There is no policy on the subject and it’s very easy to do. That said, the switch for disabling the bell isn’t right in front of me so if I disable it, it’s not immediately obvious that I’ve forgotten to turn it back on – until I’ve passed somebody’s stop.

      Pure guess? The bell on the Bredas is more annoying (at least to me) so more drivers probably turned it off.

      1. Oh, VBD-
        I have to disagree with you (a rare occurrence) about the bells on the Bredas – perhaps one of their few redeeming features – actual bells! I wish link had real bells, but no, overused electronic squaks!

      2. I have to second Lloyd on this one. It’s so great to pull the cord and actually hear a bell the instant you pull! The noise (and delayed reaction) you get on the Gilligs just doesn’t compare.

      3. “I have to disagree with you (a rare occurrence) about the bells on the Bredas”

        Rare, eh? I’ll take that as a compliment. As for the bells, I hear far more of them than you ever well – so the quieter they are the better. (I tune them out and look at my dash each time I’m coming up on a stop).

        That said, I’m in a service industry, so the customer is always right. If you all want Michael Bolton’s voice to ring out in tune every time that blasted cord gets pulled then Metro – “Make it so” ;)

  8. Just saw this interesting info from WDOT on <a href="http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Projects/LkWaMgt/Transit.htm"SR-520 transit improvements:

    Riders will begin seeing capital improvements by June 2011 at bus stops in the SR 520 corridor. Real-time information signs will be added and bus stop facilities improved at the following locations:

    • Montlake Freeway Station in Seattle
    • SR 520 and 40th Street in Redmond
    • SR 520 and 51st Street in Redmond

  9. Coming Soon: Self Driving Cars

    Thanks to a supercomputer on a tiny microchip, Eugenio Culurciello says cars are going to drive themselves in the near future.

    Culurciello, an associate professor of electrical engineering at Yale Unversity, would know. He helped design the chip that could make it happen. The microchip contains a supercomputer with the ability to recognize and distinguish surrounding objects, such as other cars, people, trees, lampposts and whatever else can be found on the road.


    “I think we’re very close,” he said. “Even though it seems distant, we have the technology to do it

    1. Tell me when they have it working on a BRT system somewhere – especially one that mixes with general traffic for any portion of it’s route. Then I’ll be interested. Until then, it’s just vaporware.

  10. Biking accidents.

    Had a great presentation last night at the Kent Bicycle Advisory Board about Vehicular Cycling skills.

    Interesting statistics:

    Only 17 percent of bike accidents are car-bike.

    50 percent are falling of the bike, like getting a wheel caught in a trolley track cut, and so on…

    90 percent of bike accidents happen at night.

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