Waterloo Station 2
The Kinks had me thinking of Waterloo station. Photo by flickr user Daniel Gil

This is an open thread.

19 Replies to “News Round-Up: One Bus Away”

  1. We have a rather clear enemy of light rail, and simultaneously of building more affordable housing in Seattle: the Seattle Displacement Coalition. These “pseudo greens” (their poorly-considered choice of words) are in an “unholy alliance” (their words) with smogmobile-oriented suburban sprawl developers.

    Just like they did in Rainier Valley and in the U-District, they are spewing venom against upzoning around Roosevelt Station.

    There is not much we can do beyond being aware of them. However, they may have a city council candidate. Michael Taylor-Judd was an enthusiastic signatory to their Yesler Terrace letter calling for residents of the housing project to be moved *twice* (once off-site, and another back on-site when the construction is done — which is a terrible thing to do to the families involved).

    It just so happens Michael is the only candidate critical of the Highway 99 tunnel in that race. I want to be able to vote for him. But he needs to answer some hard questions about density around rail stations before he earns any support from transit advocates.

    1. Thanks for the comment, Brent!

      As I have explained elsewhere, please do not misconstrue my shared interest on the specific issues related to replacing (and hopefully expanding) low-income housing in the Yesler Terrace redevelopment with a blanket alliance of any sort with John Fox and the Seattle Displacement Coalition.

      To be clear, no one is requiring residents to do anything. Several residents have expressed their wish to have the OPTION to come back because they treasure the community they are a part of; and the issue under concern is maintaining the number of “very low income” units on-site and not necessarily the residents in them.

      As many readers (and writers) at this Blog who have met and spoken with me at past Meetups know, I am very supportive of density around rail stations and have been working on issues of this sort for years.

      Feel free to contact me with any questions…

  2. From the bike roundabout link, on a question about wearing headphones while riding a bike:

    RCW 46.37.480 “(2) No person shall operate any motor vehicle on a public highway while wearing any headset or earphones connected to any electronic device capable of receiving a radio broadcast or playing a sound recording for the purpose of transmitting a sound to the human auditory senses.”

    Wow, so those bluetooth handsfree devices are illegal to use while driving? I also notice it says “motor vehicle” – so it’s legal to wear headphones while riding a bike? (not that I would – in both ears, anyway)

    1. Motorcycles are far less dangerous to others than cars, so it sort of makes sense that laws would be more lenient toward those riders. But they are so incredibly dangerous for the drivers that it seems like they should almost not be legal at all.

      Motorcycles have a fatal crash rate of 35.0 per 100 million miles, compared with a rate of 1.7 per million for passenger cars.

      1. I think he was referring to bicycles. Trust me, it hardly matters what’s in your ears on a motorcycle.

        That said, as a former (and likely future) motorcyclist, I would come to the defense of motorcycling. There’s a vital difference between motorcycle and car crashes: motorcyclists rarely kill anyone else. A motorcycle wreck that kills a pedestrian or other vulnerable user is very likely to kill the rider; not so for a car crash.

        Moreover, when you look at the crash statistics for motorcyclists broken down by experience, age and other factors, there are certain subgroups that exhibit incredibly high risk and others that aren’t nearly as bad. The biggest kill zone is about two years after someone gets a license, which is when people feel confident enough to trade up to a bigger bike. Another surprising fact is that most accidents occur on neighborhood streets, during short trips to grocery stores etc., not on long highway rides.

        More generally, there are many things — kayaking, rock climbing, skiing — that serve no objective purpose that couldn’t be achieved another way and carry considerable risk, yet are smiled upon socially. Motorcycling is both recreation and transportation, and it’s about the greenest form of fossil-fueled transportation possible: Prius-like gas mileage with a fraction of the initial cost.

      2. Is motorcycling really the greenest form of fossil fuel transportation? Gas mileage isn’t everything — how do emission controls on motorcycles compare? A while ago I was told that motorcycles emit a lot more locally-dangerous pollutants than cars, if not more carbon, but I don’t have any hard numbers.

      3. Right, it’s always a little complicated to evaluate greenness.

        Motorcycles categorically beat any car for up-front environmental cost, simply due to the vastly greater amount of material in any car. GHG emissions are roughly a function of fuel mileage, and although in city traffic a carefully-driven hybrid car with the A/C off can approach motorcycle efficiency, on the highway, bikes rule with typical ~50 mpg one-up riding on modern bikes — nothing else comes close. That’s the easy stuff.

        It’s more complicated with other emissions. Street-legal bikes can be roughly broken into three categories:

        * Non-brand, cheap 49cc scooters. The EPA rules for these pieces of crap are pretty lenient, but it hardly matters as so many don’t actually comply. In particular, any two-stroke scooter sold since 1980 is almost certainly illegal, although they were all over the place. Fortunately, whether through EPA action or market pressure, most of the ones today are at least four-stroke but they’re still pretty dirty compared to a small car of similar vintage.

        * Brand name motorcycles built to American emission standards. Until quite recently the standards were pretty lax — actually more lenient for bikes than for SUVs. The standards were tightened in 2008 and 2010, and are now comparable to small cars for 250cc+ engines. The key difference between pre-’08 and now is that most bikes now have catalytic converters, versus previously they didn’t. Smaller engines have progressively laxer standards.

        * Brand name motorcycles (BMW are the only ones I know) built to European and Japanese emission standards. These bikes are incredibly fuel efficient and clean, probably some of the least-polluting gasoline powered vehicles made commercially.

        Many of these non-brand scooters are very hard to find parts for, and they break pretty early in life compared to real motorcycles, and thus end up in dumpsters after a few years. I really have nothing nice to say about them. But real motorcycles are pretty green nowadays, as long as they’re post ’08 and above 125 cc.

      4. Something that’s helped quite a bit is California’s air laws (CARB). If you want to sell to CA, you have to meet their rules (more stringent than the EPA), and unless you want to develop a seperate product for them than every other state, you just make the changes to your product at the factory. That’s what happened to my 150cc Bajaj 4-stroke scooter (no longer produced), and they ended up easily beating average motorcycle emissions and get 80+ mpg (check out the numbers for 2-stroke scooters – about 100x the hydrocarbons of the average motorcycle).

      5. Yes — California has done a lot in this respect. The ’08 and ’10 federal standards are in fact the ’06 and ’08 CARB standards with a couple of exemptions written in for boutique builders and home builders. Harmonizing these rules was a major industry request.

  3. Re: Freeman donation to Eyeman. (Sorry, this is kind of a whiny emotional comment)

    How do taxpayers expect roads to get maintained? Not that Eyeman’s initiatives have only targeted road funding, but with general tax revenue shortfalls, and a flat gas tax, if we don’t do tolls, and we don’t raise other taxes, the roads will not get maintained, and there will be an outcry about it. Of course, no one who voted for Eyeman’s initiatives will make the connection.

    People at WSDOT must all have Dartboards with Tim’s picture on them. Or maybe Tim Eyeman voodoo dolls…

    1. Different people vote for different things, but almost everybody votes in their own interests. One faction thinks the governments have plenty of money in their regular budget to maintain roads, once they eliminate the mysterious “waste”, cut salaries, and eliminate unions, pensions, and medical insurance. Another faction goes further and would privatize the libraries, transit, parks, and schools because the private sector can do them better. Another faction wants walkable neighborhoods with good transit, and thinks government involvement is the only way to accomplish it.

      It’s a fair guess that those who vote to reduce class sizes are not the ones who vote for a tax cap, and that the former includes lots of teachers and the latter includes lots of anti-tax, anti-transit crusaders. So the net result depends on how large each faction is. And somehow through it all there’s a belief that government spending on roads and highways is necessary and legitimate, while almost everything else government does is is unnecessary and illegitimate.

  4. Condo neighbors look to City of Kirkland for resolution to ‘eyesore’

    An example of what happens with a lacks zoning policy; pissed off neighbors, a bankrupt project and a building that sticks out like a sore thumb… all to house 18 units (height is not density a wise person once said on this blog). Apparently when a city reaches critical mass individual neighborhood concerns become as anonymous as they would be if swallowed up by county government.

      1. They are luxury waterfront condominiums. Reserve your new home today! Four bus routes within easy walking distance, Sushi, Thai food a great Indian restarant (really), coffee shops and bars all within staggering distance and only 2 miles from downtown Kirkland.

  5. Regarding the biking in a roundabount… the article wasn’t too specific what to (actually) do.

    There’s a roundabout at the end of the new ($30 million!!) NE 36th St. bridge near Microsoft. The road is engineered such that the bike lane on the bridge ends in a ramp up to the sidewalk as it approaches the roundabout. First time I encountered this, I took the ramp, but then had to make two (!) perpendicular crossings along the crosswalk, and there wasn’t a place to jump off the sidewalk to continue along the road until the next driveway. Kinda annoying.

    Of course, now I ride through the roundabout. I signal out of the bike lane, join the one lane of traffic merging into the roundabout while riding in the center of the lane, match the speed going through the roundabout (12-16 mph), then exit the roundabount in the center of the lane, moving to the right when there’s enough room for a car to pass. I guess that’s how you’re supposed to do it?

    1. When in doubt, act like a car and make the cars behind you slow down. Only move to the right when it feels safe to do so. Speeding up to 12mph is nice, but not required.

      And yeah, pulling bikes onto sidewalks and over crosswalks is just showing MS’s car love.

  6. Now I know who that person shooting with the 16-35L works for.

    And I shot some at Capitol Hill Station too–look in the pool or here to see ’em.

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