blv pie chart

On January 31st, Bellevue held its Transit Master Plan network design workshop. You can find the agenda (including some maps) and fittingly Jarrett Walker-esque presentation slides online (his company is facilitating the process.)

As they usually do, this meeting had interesting data. Bellevue is of course the second most transit-oriented city in the region, with 12% of commute trips served by bus (vs. 18.3% for Seattle and 8.2% for third place, Issaquah).

And then there are the (unscientific) survey responses, which for both Bellevue residents and other respondents couldn’t have been more commuter-oriented:
blv_surveySee also the cool drawings of the future of the Eastgate area and the Spring District (slides 28 and 29). As always, there’s too much greenery but given that this is Bellevue I’ll give it a pass.

22 Replies to “Bellevue TMP Update”

  1. I think slide #29 clearly illustrates a potential benefit of the community park/open space concept that hasn’t been commented on lately. In slide 29, if a rider disembarks from the Link train that is shown in the slide and needs to walk to a destination that is 3 blocks east and 2 blocks north, a pedestrian can take a short-cut through the park and get to their destination sooner with fewer stops at cross walks and less worry about auto traffic. Of course, the park shown in slide 29 is just a lawn and it isn’t set up to facilitate short-cuts, but hopefully, community input will take care of that problem.

  2. So Martin, do you feel that downtown Bellevue has too much open space? Referring to slide 27 of the presentation, the major public open spaces are:

    Downtown Park
    The green space next to the library and the narrow park north of there
    The NE 6th pedestrian mall and the plaza next to 106th NE
    The plaza next to city hall and some green space next to 112th NE and NE 4th

    You can then add to that some private plazas, like the ones next to the Skyline Tower and the PSE buildings. By the time all those buildings in yellow are built, there will be hardly any surface parking lots or undeveloped land.

    1. I’m by no means an expert on Downtown Bellevue, but the downtown park is well-activated, surrounded by density, and a fine example of how to do things right.

      As for the other spaces, I don’t know if they’re well used or not. My immediate reaction is that they’re well-spaced and not excessively large, and don’t monopolize the critical area around the transit center.

    2. Having grown up in Bellevue I’ve gone past the “narrow park north of the library” many times and never seen a person there. We used to go to many other parks around the Eastside and spend a couple hours playing there, but never to that park. When I’d drive past it as a teen with my mom, long before I’d heard of urbanism, I told her, “That park is too narrow. Nobody wants to be on a narrow strip in front of the street.” She defended the park saying, “Some parks are there just to look at, and people like the greenery.” I’d rather have a narrower strip of trees and shrubs. But I’ve given up on those blocks. Some apartment buildings went up west of the park, and they don’t look very walk friendly either.

      I don’t personally know much about the downtown park or the other parks mentioned because they were all built after I moved to Seattle, but the NE 6th pedestrian mall is well used even if not crowded. When Bellevue has its annual arts festival there’s a secondary fringe festival in the plaza.

      1. My favorite anecdote about Downtown Park is that apparently the water feature only runs when sensors detect that the parking lot is filled to a certain point, in order to save on the energy costs of running the water pumps (two, each the size of an elevator) more than was necessary. I remember chuckling about how perfectly Bellevue that was: no matter how many people walk to the park from the nearby offices or condos, its most stunning feature will only operate if a certain quota of people drive there. Now that’s how you build a walkable city!

      2. I’m surprised – I would have instead expected the the pumps to turn off and on by the clock and certain prescribed times of day, perhaps with shorter hours during the winter and longer hours during the summer.

        Forget about transportation mode choice – simply using a timer avoids the cost of installing sensors in the parking lot and also provides people with a predictable experience – arrive during certain times and you knowthe water display is going to be on.

        Another problem with parking lot sensors as the trigger is that if the number of parked cars is right on the edge of the threshold, the display is going to go on and off every few minutes, each time a car enters or leaves the lot. Energy-wise, starting and stopping the pumps repeatedly is more expensive than just leaving them running so, again, this seems strange.

  3. I learned how to drive in the giant parking lot down the street from Eastgate P&R. Having buildings there will be a big improvement, bit it’s still a little bittersweet.

  4. It is very disappointing to see surface light rail through he Spring District. It’s hard to believe how much money we’re spending on a sub-par system.

    It’s going to be hard to forget this when ST3 is on the ballot…

    1. If people weren’t so budget-conscious, we could have a first-rate tunnel in downtown Bellevue without cutting corners, and a fully grade-separated East Link as it was going to be at one point. I’m not that bothered by a short surface segment in the Spring District, one because it’s short, and two because there aren’t a lot of cross streets in the area that would slow the train down. 124th, 140th, ahd 148th are the only significant streets in the area. The people who should most be concerned about slow trains are those in Overlake, Microsoft, and Redmond.

      I wish the majority of citizens supported grade-separated rail everywhere even if it raised the price, but for every person who’d vote against ST3 because Bel-Red is on the surface, there’s two or three people who’d vote against it if it’s not, because they’re already complaining it cost $200m per mile instead of $30m.

      1. But the Deep Bore Tunnel which caters to absolutely nobody, because it bypasses downtown Seattle and also isn’t on the through route (which is I-5), and will have tolls to deter everyone else …. why, for that, money is no object!

        Sigh. How can people start thinking clearly?

      2. The DBT carries cars. That’s the difference. Price limits for mass transit don’t apply to freeways.

      3. By the way our politicians carry on, you’d think cars voted. Remember the gag in _Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy_ where, when picking a name to use on Earth, one of the characters made a mistake about the predominant lifeform on the planet and chose “Ford Prefect”?

  5. Slide 22 is interesting. Transit in this region is really expensive! It costs $5.50 per bus boarding and $135 per DART boarding. I realize DART accommodates medical needs (wheelchairs, etc.) but you can get a taxi for $100 cheaper. Patients often leave county hospitals with cab fare provided. I see that’s far cheaper than transit!

    1. Obviously, cost per boarding depends heavily upon how many people ride the bus. Get more than one person onboard that 925 and the cost per boarding will go down quickly.

      I wonder however, if DART routes suffer because of route legibility and because people just don’t know how they work.

      1. Sure, if you get 10 people on the DART it’s just $13.50/boarding. But the raw number is still pretty darned large.

        I believe I’ve read that Seattle has some of the most expensive transit in the nation. There are some valid reasons for that–a “livable” minimum wage, expensive gas prices, irrational traffic congestion–but I’ve always speculated that we in the Northwest are just really, really good at wasting public funds.

    2. The county tries to get as many disabled people as possible off of paratransit and into the taxicab system, with subsidized taxi scrip for the disabled. But it’s not a popular program.

      1. They want disabled people to use taxis?? Have they told disabled people that? A fair number of them are probably trying to be conservative in their taxi use.

  6. Issaquah is the third-most “transit-oriented” city in the region? I imagine the lack of frequent buses has to do with a) small population (Sammamish actually has more people) and b) the “commute trips” definition (meaning the 214-218 account for a lot of it), which seems like an odd definition of “transit-oriented”.

  7. So there’s lots of demand for more parking at P&Rs. Here’s how to get more: remove the bus loops, build structured parking in their place, move the bus stops out to the streets (wherever it’s most efficient for the buses going through), and improve pedestrian crossings of the streets involved.

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