50 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Subway Rage”

    1. Bike riders sure like to play the sympathy card a lot. Oh poor me!
      Truth is, they comprise a tiny fraction of all trips completed in the region (PSRC Trends). Only 1/10 as many as the walkers. Transit is only 1/10 of the total trips, while cars still do the heavy lifting around here (about 80% worth).
      I’d be careful with the Jihad stuff against the masses if your goal is to have them pony up more money for cyclist and less money for their road.

      1. Small, but growing…and potential demand is higher. As I mentioned, of all those who want to bike, more than 60 percent will not for fear of riding near cars. (They may however, gladly take the bike to bicycle only path or low trafficked street.)

        Bicycling and Walking in the Central Puget Sound Region
        Results from PSRC’s regional household activity surveys in 1999 and 2006 show an increase in the number of trips made by bicycling and walking. Survey results also show significantly more people access transit service on foot than by car, adding to the number of walking trips made in the region.

        Depending on where trips start and end, bicycle and walk mode share percentages vary across the region. More bicyclists are entering and exiting downtown Seattle during the morning commute period, based on the city’s 1992, 1995, 2000, and 2007 counts. A survey conducted in the fall of 2007 provides insight on people’s attitudes about bicycling and walking.

        http://psrc.org/assets/2121/t17jul09.pdf

      2. Well, they’re getting killed. Safety is not sympathy. Numerically, it would be much more appropriate to play the sympathy card for passenger vehicle occupants of which 20,000 are killed per year. But that’s ‘normal’ apparently, an ‘accepted’ way of life. Do something about the carnage! Start somewhere!

      3. That’s the beauty of improving safety for cyclists: In most cases it also improves safety for other road users. Just enforcing *existing* laws for speed limits as well as distracted and impaired driving would make a huge dent in traffic fatalities of all kinds.

        Every time I hear somebody gripe about cyclists running stop signs or riding the wrong way I suggest adding more traffic cops to enforce all traffic laws. Bring it on.

      1. I’d have to agree with the ‘equal but separate’ ideas you were proposing.
        I always thought getting from Kent’s CR station should avoid SR516 or James St (Too steep, too busy with cars, and unsafe). I tried to get the KBAB to pursue a bike route up Temperance, then when the hill gets really steep, use the switchbacks, diverting to one of two outlets. One behind Easthill Elem. and F.Meyer near James, and the other behind the High School and bus barn. Flatter, calmer, and much safer.

      2. Cars and bikes have to cross paths and run parallel because drivers and people on bikes (whatever you want to call them) are going the same places. Hey, I may ride in the road, on a road bike, and fast when the mood strikes, but I’m a utility cyclist, too — I ride mostly for transportation and often carrying some luggage (a change of clothes, notebooks, etc). Enough with the divisiveness.

        There’s no need to have an argument whether to ride in the street or on the sidewalk going downhill. Here in Washington State we have a right to do both. I can ride on the road, you can ride on the sidewalk. I will watch out for left-turning traffic and pedestrians in crosswalks; you can watch out for right-turning traffic, cars pulling up to stop signs, and pedestrians on the sidewalk.

    2. As has been pointed out by many bloggers and commenters, much of the infrastructure The Economist proposes wouldn’t’ve done jack to save Michael Wang’s life—if anything it might have put him in even more danger, since “concrete buffers, rows of trees or parked cars” would have further decreased visibility of cyclists from left-turning drivers like the one that killed him. (SDOT had proposed separating the bike lane on Dexter north of here from the general traffic lanes with a line of parked cars, and many cyclists—myself included—spoke out vehemently against this. In addition to decreased visibility, this would put cyclists in the door zone 100% of the time with no room to avoid an obstacle, and it would make it difficult to safely pass slower cyclists.) The Economist also mentions traffic calming, but I’ve not heard anything to suggest that speed was the main issue here. The vehicle that hit Wang was apparently a Chevy Suburban, which weighs at least 2.6 tons and has a pretty high bumper & grille. Even with European-style speed limits, so long as we have American-style vehicles on our roads, more Americans will die on those roads.

      1. What likely killed Michael Wang is “Target Mentality”. The driver was so focused on where they were going that they weren’t paying attention to their immediate surroundings. I see this behavior every day. Some drivers even do it to the point where it endangers their own lives. I encounter plenty of drivers performing the “Left Cross” (Collision type #8 here: http://j.mp/op0lDp) in front of my bus – the same maneuver that resulted in Michael Wang’s death. Obviously, if they get the timing wrong and/or I can’t stop in time, it won’t go well for them.

        A bus is more visible than a cyclist, given its size, but you’d be surprised how often I have to avoid creaming somebody pulling this maneuver. I tweeted about one just a few days ago.

      2. Actually, I don’t think the Economist was arguing that a barrier would have prevented the turn, just that noticeable physical infrastructure is more effective that just paint for a variety of reasons (including preventing other illegal maneuvers). The problem on Dexter is that the unsafe left turn simply should not be legal; a properly designed cycle path includes signal configuration to not allow a vehicle to turn into a cyclist:
        http://hembrow.blogspot.com/2010/09/junction-design-for-safer-cycling.html
        Sure,

        It’s looking hopeful that the Broadway redesign coming with the FHSC will be that type of facility:
        http://seattlebikeblog.com/2011/04/13/planners-present-more-details-for-broadway-bikeway/

      3. @joshuadf: Most all the intersections along Broadway are signalized, which makes it pretty easy for SDOT to put in Dutch signals along that cycletrack if they want to, and hopefully they will. But Dexter is notorious for its lack of signalized intersections, presumably because Dexter itself doesn’t have terribly high volumes and neither do many of its cross-streets (since few of them go through Aurora to the west or to Westlake on the east).

        SDOT has the right to look beyond the MUTCD’s traffic signal warrants (the MUTCD says signals “should not”—not “shall not”—be installed when none of the warrants are met), but they seem very reticent to do so. Near as I can tell, the only places where SDOT seems to put in signals where they aren’t required based on traffic volumes alone are places where “Warrant 7, Crash Experience” is met. And, of course, the only way for that warrant to be met is for people to get hurt or killed first. Maybe now that someone has, SDOT will get its head out of its ass. But I wouldn’t hold my breath.

      4. BTW, this discussion reminds me of the juncture of 15th & 87th in Crown Hill. There had been a “Crosswalk” sign over 15th there, but no marked crosswalk underneath it, which didn’t meet standards. So rather than mark the crosswalk, SDOT removed the sign. A few weeks later, a 12-year-old boy was hit and sent into a coma trying to cross there. SDOT had plans to install a signal a block north, at 15th & Holman, and both the community and the city council asked that they instead (or additionally) install a signal at 87th, where they felt more people crossed and where this child had nearly been killed. But SDOT said volumes simply weren’t high enough, and today there’s a signal at Holman and nothing at 87th. You just can’t trump traffic volume numbers, it seems.

      5. @Andreas: There is a reason why SDOT is reticent to consider installing signals where traffic volumes are not warranted: because the existing studies show that where traffic signals are installed for reasons other than those in the MUTCD result in a higher number of collisions than without. Interestingly enough, even Warrant 7 requires satisfaction of some volume warrants.

      6. [Andreas] “Dexter is notorious for its lack of signalized intersections, presumably because Dexter itself doesn’t have terribly high volumes and neither do many of its cross-streets” You sort-of address the in the rest of your comment, but to put a fine point on it: Dexter has one of the highest bicycle traffic volumes in the city. That certainly deserves signals, as well as anything else we can do for bikes there. Kick cars off it for all I care.

        Oh, and 15th is far too wide of a road for Seattle – it’s practically another Aurora. Whittle that sucker down to 3 lanes if you want to really control speed.

        Post all of the speed limit signs you want and add dozens more police. But nothing will control car speeds as much as visual cues and physical geometry – narrow roads and intersections. Design our arterials for 30mph – not 50.

      7. Broadway and Howell (a short street to Nagle Place near NSCC) is not signalized, and neither are many intersections south of Madison (or ANY intersections south of Boren, save Yesler).

      8. I am a little confused by your statement, Matt, that because there are more cyclists on Dexter that we should signalize every intersection. Wouldn’t that penalize bicyclists who have to stop potentially at every intersection? Seems like that would be the wrong direction to go.

      9. @Mike H: It would only penalize cyclists if the signals were timed for cars going 20-30 mph. Copenhagen, Amsterdam, and other cities set “green waves” on select arterials so that cyclists go several miles without stopping, at a speed of about 12 mph. That might be a bit slow for Dexter’s spandex warriors, but whatever the speed, it seems like Dexter from Nickerson to Denny would be perfect for a low-speed green wave.

    3. I read the Economist off and on and typically respect their opinions. However, in this case, they are off the mark. A cycle track would not have helped Mr. Wang. The collision (as from information in the media) involved a car turning left and colliding with the bicycle. Then, the driver drove off. A cycle track design would have protected a bicyclist from an errant vehicle weaving out of its lane and into the bike lane but intersections are still open.

      I agree that the long-time debate over bike facilities (it has been going on since at least the 1970’s) has resulted in polarizing factions. However, for a 20 years or so, we have agreed that bike lanes and other on-street facilities better meet the requirements and safety of cyclists. It should be noted that the “vehicular cycling” philosophy grew out of the fact that California was designing and building side path type of facilities (and restricting bicyclists to them). These facilities were often poorly designed and constructed and were not as well maintained as the adjacent roadways. Furthermore, studies such as one by Dr Eero Pasanen of Finland and one conducted by the University of Lund, Sweden showed that side paths have a higher risk than facilities in the roadway.

      All this being said, I believe that we need more bicycle facilities but ones that work within this country. Solutions that work in other places should be looked at but we shouldn’t expect them to be able to work here with no alterations. I think that things such as bike boulevards will help increase bicycling opportunities and do so without increasing any risk to first time and family types of cyclists.

      1. Excuse me all, but seattle DOT staff should be questioned as to the effectiveness of Mercer & AlaskanWay in more detailed explanations (of what littler there are). Pretty artist renderings are NOT engineering perspectives. Please, look at the next golf course for idiots built upon your waterfront. You can take that as a joke, but it’s not funny.

        Here’s my latest conclusionary analysis:

        Look, my intent is only to fairly-criticize sub-ordinately incompetent engineering professionals BEFORE they commit their worst error, particularly their DBT “Historical Mistake” to absolutely be forgotten…

        Few of you have imagined how the DBT would NOT survive a 59 rictor scale earthquake…The very dBt design is absolutely fatal in its flaws. This is the worst design yet from wurshdirtt dummies in pressed suits who act like they know what they’re doing.

        Good Luck to the sidewalk builder lobby whose raw material will soon be wasted underground, NOT on sidewalks AND brickwork that require that “most pure” riverbed cement ((to become a tunnel)) AND a tunnel that “Redirects underground water seepage patterns” that unquestionably undermine numerous building foundations. THAT is the REALITY of seattler decision to vote ignorance. IF they knew… THEY would have voted NO….

        Have a nice autumn day…
        Save your city when the next chance to, arrives… yea mikey!

      2. It’s really why I tend to be a vehicular cyclist. I don’t know how the safety statistics work out for it, but other road users behave more predictably when I am riding in the center of a lane, and going through all the same maneuvers I would were I on my moped or driving my Cavalier.

        THat doesn’t mean that I don’t support bike infrastructure. It’s just necessary to have more than just a bike lane. Once you’ve moved bicycles out of the normal flow of traffic, other roadway changes are necessary to draw driver’s attention to the bike lane. If this cyclist had been riding down the center of the traffic lane, odds are the driver would have noticed him. Likewise, if there’d been one of those green colored strips where the bike lane crossed the intersection, the driver may have checked the bike lane for oncoming bicycles.

        Out of sight, out of mind.

    1. Oh wait. I just realized something. I just realized that violently charged language is only unacceptable if it directed at bicycles and bicyclists. If the language, however, is targeted at the evil automobile, and the people who drive them, then it’s justified or acceptable.

      So I feel like I need to apologize. Sorry I didn’t catch the double standard earlier.

      1. Same thing with the tunnel. If you’re anti-tunnel, you can say whatever you want. But, if you’re pro-tunnel, you get censored.

  1. I think Bumbershoot is a wasted opportunity to show off our transit infrastructure and the power of our new Region.

    By continuing to situate it in one centralized place, we fail to acknowledge the majority growth that has been occurring at the edge of central city, and in the Puget Sound region as well as all of Western Washington.

    Having spent billions to build out a transit system, we should now think regionally. To wit, I have proposed that Bumbershoot become a regional festival and take advantage of facilities like the Everett and Kent Events Centers, as well as Meydenbaur Hall and other facilities to host acts across the Seaopolis metropolitan region. (For example we could feature name acts in multiple locations across the four days).

    This would not only show off the region — but also the unity of its Transit Systems. Rail systems like Sounder would run all weekend. Express buses would transfer concert goers to the facilities using ORCA.

    We built this city on Folk and Hop, now let’s use it — all of it!!

    1. Big concerts are more fun when they’re all in one place. Far more fun. Half the reason people go is because there will be tons of other people there. That’s the whole point. To go be with tons of other people who like the same thing, not to separate off into the suburbs far apart. People like being around other people.

      Why on earth would you ever spread out a massive concert? That’s just dumb.

    2. Horrible idea! That’s like saying “why concentrate the Bite of Seattle” at the Seattle Center instead of spreading it all over the city.”

      1. SIFF actually shows how it could be done, and what the impact would be. The satellite locations are actually parallel festivals, showing the same material as the Seattle screens. They don’t show anything only at the suburban theaters. The Seattle theaters weren’t losing films because they were still showing at least four films simultaneously. I never went to a suburban theater, and I suspect that most of the people who did either wouldn’t go to a Seattle theater or found it more convenient to watch it near home. So it’s a win-win situation.

        The difference with Bumbershoot is that each band plays once rather than twice. But still, they’re not going to cut back on Seattle bands in order to give the suburbs bands. They’d just send the overflow to the suburban festivals, and I’m sure they’d be able to find plenty of bands because Bumbershoot, like Folklife, is hard to get into and there are limited slots.

      2. Thanks for that reply…SIFF sounds like a good parallel model for what I’m proposing.

        I would in fact, contract with some of these bands to play twice or even three times.

        That would give other people a chance to see them…and also, allow people even in Seattle who couldn’t make a show, to maybe take a flyer on a Sounder or Metro bus to visit Kent, Bellevue, Everett and see them there.

        It could be a great unifying theme for the region!

      3. Satellite Bumbershoots might work, but the great migration of people between sites is not likely to happen. People spend a lot of money for an all-day ticket ($45 at the door), and they want to spend the time watching bands and walking short distances, not spending an hour commuting between sites. And it would take most of an hour even with dedicated express buses, given the traffic jams at Seattle Center and on the freeways. Although if people take the monorail to Westlake, it would be a lot easier to get to Kent or Bellevue or Everett, either on the existing 150 or 550 or 510, or on whatever specials may be running.

        Running Sounder all day on weekends would cost a whopping ton of money. I think the baseball specials are only a single round trip, and it would be a long time before you’d get that many thousands of people going to Bumbershoot/Kent from afar. And with a baseball game, everyone’s going in the same direction at the same time. With a festival, people are dropping in and out all day.

        Another difference with SIFF is that SIFF runs for a month, so travelling to it just gets buried in regular transit use and is unnoticeable.

  2. Idea for a service improvement:
    More Passing Wires to Reduce Wheelchair Delays to Trolley Buses
    Trolley buses cannot pass each other if they are sharing the same wire. However, when a trolley boards or de-boards a wheelchair, all other trolleys behind it are delayed until the bus leaves the stops. Even with low-floor buses that have ramps instead of lifts, delays can be up to two minutes each.

    IMO, to reduce if not eliminate these kind of delays, it should be mandatory for all stops shared by 3 or more trolley routes and all layover points to be equipped with “passing wires” (except when the stop has a “NO LIFT” sticker on it, which is rare on trolley routes). Examples of where passing wires are to be installed:

    1. On Third Avenue between Cedar and South Main Streets–Routes 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 13, 14, 36, 49 (Nite/Sun), 70
    2. On South Jackson Street between Third and Twelfth Avenues–Routes 7, 14, 36, 49 (Nite/Sun)
    3. On Pike and Pine Streets between First Avenue and Broadway–Routes 7 (Nite/Sun), 10, 12, 14, 43, 49
    4. On First and Queen Anne Avenues between Denny Way and Mercer Street–Routes 1, 2, 13
    5. On Queen Anne Avenue between Galer and McGraw Streets–Routes 3, 4, 13
    6. On 15th Avenue NE between NE Campus Parkway and NE 45th St–Routes 43, 44, 49, 70
    7. On Virginia Street between Third and Seventh Avenues–Routes 7, 36, 70

    Of course, each new passing wire costs money, but this is completely a “WHAT IF” scenario…

    1. One nice thing about low-floor buses is that the lift is not deployed as often. Users of walkers do not need to be lifted in or out of those buses.

      1. True, all a low-floor bus has to do is kneel.

        Personally it bugs me when I see a trolley operator deboard a wheelchair a 3rd & Pike (Northbound) or Union (Southbound) without using a passing wire. I can understand about boarding though, it’s hard to anticipate the need to use the lift.

        I think that when we get new trolleys off-wire capability will reduce the need for passing wires to some degree.

      2. And if kneeling’s not enough, the ramp flips-down in record time. Compared to lift usage on a high-floor bus, ramp boarding is a trivial delay. Passing wires for that purpose should be unnecessary if the next batch of trolleys is low floor.

        Now if we could switch to rear-facing restraintless wheelchair positions, put a muffler on the kneeling air exhaust, and switch to broad-spectrum buzzers for the kneel warning, everything’d be perfect.

    2. What’s magic about 3 or more routes?
      I’d look to where wheelchair riders are usually getting on and off.
      Harborview, 3rd/Bell. Of course, that will likely change after the RFA goes away.

      1. I agree with the Harborview stop idea. The “3+ routes” assumption was made when I was brainstorming this plan since those stops would likely have more than one trolley stopping there at once.

      2. I think the real magic number is headway. If the time it takes to board/deboard a wheelchair is greater than the average (or minimum) time between buses, then you want passing wires.

    3. Is it my imagination, or has the average time to load or unload a wheelchair decreased from what it was a few years ago?

  3. Excuse me all, but seattle DOT staff should be questioned as to the effectiveness of Mercer & AlaskanWay in more detailed explanations (of what little there are). These pretty artist renderings are NOT the most useful engineering perspectives. Please, look at the next golf course for idiots built upon your waterfront, staring up at your sidewalk-less city & saying yea? You can take that as a joke, but it’s not funny.

    Here’s my latest conclusionary analysis:

    My intent is only to fairly criticize sub-ordinately incompetent engineering professionals BEFORE they commit this worst error,
    the DBT “Historical Mistake” to absolutely be forgotten…

    Few have imagined how the DBT could NOT survive a 59 rictor scale earthquake…
    The very dBt design is absolutely fatal in its flaws. This is the worst idiotic design yet from wurshdirtt dummies in pressed suits acting like they know what they’re doing.

    Good Luck to the sidewalk builder lobby whose raw material will soon be wasted underground, NOT on sidewalks AND brickwork that require that “most pure” riverbed cement ((to become a tunnel)) A tunnel that “Redirects underground water seepage patterns” unquestionably undermining “numerous” building foundations. THAT is the REALITY of seattler decision to vote ignorance.
    IF they knew… THEY would have voted NO….
    Have a nice autumn day…
    Save your city when the next chance to, arrives… yea mike!

    1. Wells, you’re repeating the comment from above,
      and I still can’t understand what you’re trying to say.

  4. Missed a recent thread on rail (and other transit) in disaster scenarios.

    It’s easy to see how rail can play a role in Gulf Coast hurricane evacuations, because A) the event is known days beforehand and B) safety is often just 40 or 50 miles away. High capacity rail can make short trips around the clock, moving large numbers of peope in a controlled, order fashion.

    It’s a little more difficult to see how rail would play a role in disaster help in the Pacific NW (read: earthquakes), since A)there is no advance notice to speak of, and B) rail itself might be as impacted as roads and highways.

    Therefore, seems to me that transit’s role in an earthquake would be primarily post-event, and primarily on the one mode of transit that is not impacted: the seas. Of course there is some degree of North to South or South to North tsunami threat, but it’s probably child’s play compared to Japan, and it’s only intermittent. Movement of foodstuffs and machine parts in, and wounded/displaced residents out, could take place on a large scale via ferries and cargo ships, etc…along hundreds of miles of Puget Sound, lakes, and numerous rivers and inland waterways. In fact, it’s sort of like the hurricane scenario, but instead of transporting people and goods in short trips over land before the event, you’re transporting people and goods in short trips over water after the event.

    In practical terms, I think this would require a simple policy of planning rail connections on water terminals throughout the region, similar to the rail that runs on/near Harbor Island (for the Alaska ferry). That way when ships come in, there would be as many modes of transport available in disbursing goods across that particular locale (assuming that there is not a 100% loss of infrastructure).

    So the seas would be the backbone, offloading to rail and road where available.

    My .02

  5. Three things:

    *I found out I will be moving to a fairly out-of-the-way part of Issaquah this October, in a place where the only transit will be the 35-minute-or-so-frequency 200. My commute to and from school, already about an hour, will now be an hour and a half if Trip Planner is to be believed, involving the 200, the 554 or other I-90 bus, and the 9 (or a lengthy walk). I will not be able to leave campus any later than 6 PM if I want to avoid a decent-length walk, which I won’t be able to avoid if I want to go anywhere on the weekends (or miss the 200). Walking to Sunset Way and catching the 554 or other bus may prove to be faster anyway (not that Trip Planner informs me I even have the option of catching it there). Not terribly surprising, but still an inconvenience for someone used to taking frequent buses to get around. I’ll update you all at the time with what I find in reality.

    *I was on 15th Ave NW north of 65th on Saturday. It consists of two travel lanes AND a parking lane in each direction, PLUS a left-turn lane. There is no reason there can’t be a bus lane or at LEAST a BAT lane there for RapidRide.

    *I was just on a 44 where the sign over the back door read “In Ride Free Area use front door only after 7″. Of course, on the succeeding 66 the driver actually enforced the front-door-only rule on me, nowhere near downtown…

  6. Down here in Portland, family who’s moving and getting rid of stuff asked me if I wanted a guidebook called (something like) ‘Walking Through Seattle’, published back in 2000. Thought I’d ask the experts if something that old is still useful.

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