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This is an open thread.

48 Replies to “News Roundup: Bikeshare Action”

  1. TriMet already had an all-zone day pass, and it was already $5.

    The only difference is that $5 is now the same price as any round trip, making the day pass a logical purchase for nearly all users (as opposed to just for tourists like myself who are likely to cross the river three times in a day).

    What’s dumb, though, is that TriMet’s website claims that you have to surrender your day pass into the farebox when using a bus, where it will be replaced with an unripped transfer slip for the rest of your day. Why would I want to carry around a dirty piece of newsprint all day, when I literally just bought a nice, wallet-sized pass that clearly states the date of validity for any driver to see?

    1. Because you can buy unvalidated Day Passes without the date on them. Easier to have you just put it in the farebox and get the same-valued transfer than having the bus driver try to read the date on your pass or get you to move your finger covering the date.

      1. And that’s why anywhere else on the entire planet where you might need a ticket validated has ticket validators.

        And why people anywhere but passive the Pacific Northwest would answer your conundrum with, “the driver needs to tell them to move their finger or get the hell off the bus.”

        The fact that the driver still has newsprint transfers to give out is a big part of the problem.

  2. Dunno how relevant this is to anything around here, except that it’s about gentrification, which is an issue everywhere, but here’s some really fascinating articles about how poor people are being forced out of central Berlin by exploding rents (in areas that are still used as shorthand for “dangerous unassimilated brown immigrants” by the cottage industry of Breivik-lite racism and demogoguery, like Kreutzberg and Neukölln) and into classic European tower-block suburbs of the outer ring. Berlin’s were built by the dying Communist regime, but the results are similar to those in the West, like Torino, London, Liverpool, Manchester, Nanterre, Sevilla, and of course Paris’s famous banlieus (and a few places I could mention in the US). (some photos)

    Recent photos of Marzahn here:

    1. Fnarf,

      It is actually worth noting that most of the immigrant-centric neighborhoods and startling city-center tower blocks are in the former West Berlin, in areas that the gerrymandered wall rendered fringe at the time.

      This includes Kreuzberg and Neukölln (both jammed into the lower right of this map), as far as possible from the economic activity that centered on the newly-important Charlottenburg during the divided decades.

      This little jag by Nordbahnhof, in which the wall followed my Google-mapped purple line, with “West Berlin” trapped to its north, is also full of immigrant blocks interspersed with heavy industry.

      So in fact, West Berlin was following very much the same marginalization pattern as Paris, Amsterdam, Leeds, or Gothenburg; it’s just that when the wall came down, these areas magically returned to being smack-dab in the city center.

      Anyway, most of the gentrification is following the classic SoHo pattern: starting in the most physically attractive, architecturally preserved sections and spreading out from there. Excepting the large and forbidding housing project around Mehringplatz, Kreuzberg gentrification’s is nearly complete, which is why Oranienstraße is now an all-purpose destination for nightlife and Bergmannstraße is the only place in the city to get good coffee. Neukölln, now the center of the city’s globally-magnetic arts scene, is well on its way.

      But many immigrants are still present in both place. They also still dominate that “wall jag” in my above Google Map, which is mere blocks from the trendy Prenzlauer Berg in the former East. It will be interesting to see if physical proximity allows for a greater degree of interaction and assimilation than the prior forces of isolation could have allowed.

  3. I’m not a fan of districting, for more reasons than just the nuttiness of having every transportation system thwarted in different wierd ways in each neighborhood where the NIMBY’s do the showing up and voting.

    But if there were other reforms, such as ranked choice voting and lower contribution limits, in the proposal, it might alter my position.

    Though ranked choice voting has limited effect in single-winner elections, it does allow for a larger field of candidates, and they tend to be much nicer to each other, focusing on *issues*. If they sling mud in a multiple-way race, they end up like a certain huge-spending candidate in the 11th district who just won the John Connelly award for spending the most money to get the fewest votes. She sent out a hit piece attacking the character of all four of her opponents. Until then, she probably had the race in the bag. (And no, she had very little to say on any issue, other than loving children and being pro-education.) I don’t think she was dumb, but her consultant sure was.

    1. If you’re referring to Stephanie Bowman’s race, the advertisement attacking the other four candidates was funded by an independent expenditure 100% separate from the campaign. She was actually outspent by Bobby Virk’s campaign which received the fewest amount of votes. Stephanie was a close 3rd place..

    2. We need districts because the current system does not provide representation for anyone who’s in the minority on any issue. Right now every elected official in the City government is elected by a majority of Seattleites. If people in one area of the city have a minority opinion, they have no chance of that being represented in the City Council. Also, our City Council has too many unanimous or near-unanimous votes. “Working together” sounds wonderful, but having a more contentious legislative body is actually a good thing as issues get more scrutiny before being passed.

      1. Geographic boundaries just seem so arbritrary, for electing people that make decisions for all of Seattle. If we’re going after miority opinions, why break up votes by area? Why not age? Or income. Or even political party.

      2. Yeah! Why should we vote for Congressmen by district? Geographic boundaries are so arbitrary. We should simply elect 435 Representatives at-large from across the USA, no matter where they live.

      3. There is representation! You have the black seat, the old seat, the lesbian seat, and a couple of seats for old white guys in fleece vests.

        viva Seattle

      4. Talk to anyone who’s run for City Council in the last ten or fifteen years. The cost of running a citywide campaign is enormous; unless you have name recognition (a la Godden or Compton) from media work, or are already in with the big money, it’s a very difficult thing. Having some districts (remember, you’ll still have 2 at-large seats with this proposal) makes elected office a more reasonable goal for a lot more people whose voices are not often heard.

      5. “Yeah! Why should we vote for Congressmen by district? Geographic boundaries are so arbitrary. We should simply elect 435 Representatives at-large from across the USA, no matter where they live.”

        Well, state boundaries are arbitrary, and district boundaries are gerrymandered. Why do we use purely geographic boundaries to elect representatives instead of other distinctions that mean more to most Americans? Did you know that to my knowledge, nothing in the Constitution says that a state’s US representatives have to be divided into districts? I know I’m intrigued by the idea of proportional representation.

  4. However, @2, the Der Spiegel (is it Der?) article you provided the link for says that in many cases it’s a socio-economic phenomena rather than ethnic, at least in one of the bigger Berlin “ghettos” they describe as being mainly white. I don’t know how you can ever really make the “problem” of gentrification go away, short of eliminating poverty. I guess some governments can put in price controls, but that sounds like a recipe for making chronically stale communities. It’s not unrealistic to expect there to be a continuous intra-flow of capital between parts of a city as neighborhoods gain or lose favor among the economically mobile. Minimize wealth disparity and the problem becomes smaller by default.

    1. Yes, exactly — the crime and alienation (and resurgent neo-Nazism) is a white problem in the ring suburbs. But all of the talk is about the “head scarf girls” and Muslims and Turks and Africans, who are demonized all over Europe by the likes of Thilo Sarrazin, Bruce Bawer, Geert Wilders, and Pam Geller (who get ludicrous amounts of airtime on Fox News in this country.

      “Minimize wealth disparity” is easier said than done. And in fact Germany has a much lower Gini coefficient than the US, so there’s more to it than that. The architectural determinist in me wants to say that it’s a problem of urban design, and this type of tower-block social engineering as widely practiced all over the world from the forties til the eighties (of which this Communist architecture in the Berlin outskirts is a not-particularly extreme example) exacerbates or in many cases even causes these problems. I used to think it was just the social dislocation, but now I really believe the very concrete and steel of these buildings are evil. The deliberate remoteness doesn’t help, of course.

      What this has to do with Seattle, I dunno. We don’t really do tower blocks here. But the subject of how to make public housing livable and not ghettoized was a big part of the Yesler Terrace discussion. I still think they came up with some pretty bad solutions to that problem; if it had been up to me the complex (and New Holly before it) would have been replaced with compact but dense small-scale buildings on a regimented small street grid with retail space on the ground floors. But nobody asked me.

      What I’d really like to see replace tower blocks is government-enabled (not government-built) neighborhoods that evolve out of informal housing along the lines of the more successful of Istanbul’s gecekondus and Rio’s favelas (some of which, contrary to the horror stories, are now desireable places to live — but only if government steps up and meets the need for things like sewers, electricity, transit and of course security, but also land title).

      The Seattle solution seems to be a ridiculously small number of fancy units for “poor” people earning $50,000 a year, while the real poor get driven out to the distant exurbs, beyond the reach of the programs that are supposedly designed to help them.

      1. “this type of tower-block social engineering… exacerbates or in many cases even causes these problems” I disagree. For all the terribleness that is towers-in-parks design, at least they provide some density. Without them, the poor would be pushed off further from the city center.

        “if it had been up to me the complex (and New Holly before it) would have been replaced with compact but dense small-scale buildings on a regimented small street grid with retail space on the ground floors.” I’m completely with you there. The YT design is light years better than the tower-in-park design, but I still see plenty of room for improvement.

      2. You can achieve higher densities with medium-rise buildings packed together than you can with tower blocks. Tower blocks actually have ridiculously low density when you could all the dead space that surrounds them. Paris’s banlieus like Les Pyramides have much lower density than the compact blocks of five-story buildings in the city proper.

        You also make possible the civic amenities — shops, neighborhoods, safe streets, etc. — that tower blocks make impossible. It’s not about the units; it’s about the context.

      3. The wasted space stems from FAR maximums. That’s something we impose on ourselves – it isn’t fundamental to tall building design.

      4. [rolls eyes]

        Yes, Matt, it is fundamental to tall building design.

        You can’t build high-rises as close together as you can build mid-rises, both because the construction logistics would make the project unfeasible in all but the world’s most expensive locations, and because you would block out the sky. Which is why not even Midtown Manhattan or Hong Kong have unbroken corridors of skyscrapers with no gaps, low-rise infill, setbacks or variations.

        If you want true on-the-ground density, you go mid-rise.

    2. Minimize wealth disparity and the problem becomes smaller by default.

      Yep. Bemoaning gentrification at the same time we are literally splitting society into two classes is completely pointless because gentrification is just a symptom. Better financial regulation and effective tax rates that are actually progressive (they don’t even have to be that high!) would be the two best places for change.

  5. A reminder to everyone that the MEHVA trolley bus tour is occurring this Saturday the 29th from 7-10, leaving from 2nd and Main. It costs $5 cash. For some reason I always miss these so I just wanted to remind everyone so they don’t miss it too!

  6. This is ridiculous. Someone really needs to run against Clibborn in the 41st. Her hypocrisy is astounding.

  7. Re: John Hempelman. He says “We cannot continue as we did in the 50s and 60s and 70s to sprawl out”, but the sprawl of the 50s, 60s and 70s was nothing compared to what it is now. Been up to Smokey Point recently? Or Covington? Mill Creek? Monroe? Prairie Ridge? South Hill? The only difference between us and LA is infill.

    1. He may have made a mistake there, but I think he was talking more about a mindset than a geographic extent. In the 50s-70s, it was all sprawl all the time. In the 90s, two contradictory trends emerged, the inward urbanism in Seattle and downtown Bellevue, and the exurban ring in the areas you list. The extent of the sprawl has mostly to do with the population size I think. The Pugetopolis population has essentially doubled since 1960. In the 60s and even 80s, few people dreamed of commuting from Auburn or Puyallup because there were plenty of brand-new houses and pre-tract land in Kent and Bellevue.

      In the 50s and 60s, suburban living was still more an ideal than a reality. It was only in the 70s that the majority lived in the burbs and the majority of kids started growing up in the burbs. So as to what people in the 50s would have thought of commuting from Marysville or Puyallup, it’s hard to imagine. Their idea of suburbia was Burien and Mountlake Terrace, and 1000 sq ft was a large house, and the latest thing was black-and-white TV and an automatic washing machine. Probably they assumed people might commute from Woodinville in the distant future, but it’s not in the cards now.

  8. ORCA fail. Setup/Story first paragraph, meat second.

    My new job (woot-woot!) is down near Bailo-Mecca. Which isn’t so bad b/c Link+140 is damn near door to door service, and fast and reliable to boot. Which means my wife and I are in a position to get rid of my car, to replace with a conversion van we’ll turn into a camper. So this afternoon after work I meet a nice young woman selling a van at the Whistle Stop near Othello where she is painting the new big mural. After checking out the van I run over to Safeway where my buddy is a manager to say hi before I go home. Turns out he is about to get off so I wait and then we walk to the train together. Train pulls up, we run down the platform, make the train and sit down and my buddy exclaims a few seconds later ‘Damn! I didn’t get a ticket!’ I look at him quizzically (he lives in Beacon Hill, doesn’t have a car and takes Link EVERY DAY) and ask, “You don’t have an Orca.” “No, I haven’t had time to go to Westlake and get one.”

    What. the. hell.

    Has no car. Uses Link every weekday to get to work, plus takes transit down to Burien every Sat and Sunday to see his son, and doesn’t know that TVMs have ORCA cards, he thought they were just ticket machines. Also didn’t know that it would save him from double paying when he switched to a bus. Guy is a manager and native English speaker so communication difficulties can’t be blamed either. The agencies in this area REALLY need to do a better job getting the word out about ORCA.

    1. Since the big roll out, as far as I can tell the various agencies assume everyone knows what ORCA does, how it works, etc. The bus cards promoting ORCA are written in gibberish. Plus, there’s no real marketing as in, “want to transfer between Metro and Sound Transit? ORCA will save you a full extra fare!”

      1. Sound Transit bus drivers never tell cash payers about ORCA either. Whenever someone pays cash on ST and asks for a transfer, 99% of the time the driver just says “no transfers” or “Sound Transit doesn’t give transfers.” It would be a lot more helpful if they’d simply tell the person to get an ORCA card if they want to transfer.

  9. I was there at Lakewood Station on Monday for the VIP preview ride. The place reeked of importance, which somehow smells like top-shelf after shave. The Sounder trip from Lakewood to Tacoma Dome was almost supersonic compared to the same trip by Pierce Transit (usually 45 minutes to an hour, with a change of buses).

    I can’t believe I missed the great local transit photog Atomic Taco. He took that funny picture of the ST coach with a Route 1 sign better than I did. I thought that the coach having a Route 1 sign was somehow tragically funny; with the kind of crowds the 1 gets, coupled with the loading issues of a fairly-cramped highway coach with only one front loading door and how some passengers tend to overencumber themselves, that bus would get nowhere fast.

  10. Today the 71/72/73 overcrowding sunk to a new low. There’s a Husky game at CenturyLink field, and it seems like every fraternity and sorority emptied out for it. I was at the 50th stop, where I can normally get a seat as opposed to the stops further south. Today there was a busload of people at the stop, which eventually grew to two busloads. After fifteen minutes, two buses came right after each other. The first bus stopped, and a bona fide mob walked to it. One person fell down and several around him tripped too, like after a European soccer game (although not as rowdy). The bus let a few people on, closed its doors when the person tripped, then opened its doors and let a few more people on before it was full. The second bus was full and passed by. The third bus came a few minutes later and was also full and passed by. The fourth bus came after fifteen minutes; it was also full and passed. By this time I was just watching amusedly, since I was in no hurry and could always take the 49 or 43. Some ten people walked further north to get to a more favorable bus stop. (Where were all these people getting on, Ravenna?)

    Finally I walked down to the 49. Several people got on that I recognized from my earlier stop. The bus was standing room only but not packed. A group was wondering how to get to the stadium. I told them to get off at 5th & Pine, go down to the station, and get on the train. Which would no doubt be packed too but it can handle the crowd more. They asked how long it would take to get downtown? I guessed 40 minutes. They said that would put them at the stadium halfway through the game.

    I wondered about the other people who remained at the 50th stop, and all the other stops south of there to Campus Parkway. Would they wait an hour and then turn around and go home?

    I told the group that nobody seemed to realize they could walk to the stadium, and that it would take 1 1/2 hours. It may take the same amount of time to wait through so many passing buses and long boarding times.

    1. Anytime you’ve got huge crowds like this, human-powered transport always beats motorized transport in reliability. Biking to the game would have worked quite well.

      1. If you don’t mind jockeying with more-extreme-than-the-streets-of-Islamabad vehicle traffic (but on average tamer than the Islamabad streets–just that an American extremist can really ruin your day, what with the suddenly pulling in front of you and braking, among other shenanigans) and the general lack of good bicycle facilities between the UW and that stadium… let’s see, big climb over Capitol Hill, or maybe you can enjoy the sudden one lane/doorzone Eastlake Ave, leading to the car-infested pleasure that is downtown (sure, take that 2nd Ave lane bicycle lane, good luck!), or maybe Montlake and wander some route through Madison, or for the most car-free route maybe swing all the way out to Ballard via the Burke (whoops, missing link) and then come back along the waterfront?

        Not something for the general population.

      2. I used to live on 56th, and biked to the ferry terminal or to my job near it. The fastest and flattest way was Roosevelt – Eastlake – Westlake – (I don’t remember south of Westlake Mall). The whole thing took 25 minutes, which was surprisingly short. Now the SLUT has supposedly made Westlake too dangerous, so I’d probably go down Fairview? But if you’re walking, the uphills aren’t as much of a barrier as when you’re riding, so I don’t think the modest hills on Eastlake would be an issue. A couple times I’ve had to walk on Eastlake in the snow when the buses were stalled; once I saw a man walking with cross-country skis which seemed pretty ingenious. I’ve never trusted car doors so I stay well away from them in the driving lane. But I haven’t had a bike since the city started painting bike lanes next to car doors; I got rid of my bike in 2003 when I moved to an apartment near Harborview with steep hills all around.

      3. By the way, if anyone is biking from the Summit area, Pike-Pine, or the hospital district to the U-district, there’s an excellent flat path via Melrose Avenue. Lakeview Boulevard, and Boyleston Avenue to Roanoke Street. The only uphill is a short bit southbound, between Eastlake and Roanoke.

    2. Now just imagine what three-car Link trains running every five minutes would have done for that mob. Coming in half a decade to a university near you…

      1. Yes, exactly. Although even University Link would have helped in this case. (And would have the added irony of waiting for the train at Husky Stadium.)

  11. Hyundai Provides 15 Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles to the Municipality of Copenhagen

    Hyundai is leasing fifteen zero-emission, hydrogen-powered ix35 fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV) to the Municipality of Copenhagen, supporting the Danish capital in its efforts to become carbon-free by 2025. The vehicles are to be delivered in spring 2013.

    1. Because just rolling with their bicycles and vehicle-free neighborhoods isn’t complicated enough, or is too efficient, or doesn’t run over enough Danes, or doesn’t move enough money out of the state?

  12. Well break my bones and praise the Lord, I do declare that I was at Rainier Freeway Station today, and cut my throat and leave me to die if I didn’t see a Metro system map that highlighted frequent routes and separated peak routes from other all-day routes!

    1. Actually it showcases RapidRide as one of the premier examples. Oops. I hope Cleveland does better with bus lanes, signal priority, and wider stop spacing.

    1. ST’s routes are 501-599. (500 is PT.) PT had a gas explosion or something a year or two ago, and had to borrow buses for a while. This may be one of them.

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