The Downtown Seattle Association has put together an impressive plan for improving walkability in the downtown core, specifically around the Pike-Pine district between Pike Market and I-5. The plan calls for spending $27 million to $54 million on trees, sidewalks, and planters to improve the streetscape. It seems like a modest price to pay to have what looks like a really nice downtown.  You can check out the website for more info and to read the whole vision.

Though transit is not specifically discussed in the report, it’s always struck me that the Pike-Pine couplet could be much better for buses. As with most East-West routes in Seattle, buses are slow through Pike-Pine, especially during rush hour, and the extra left-right jog at Bellevue slows things further.

Pike-Pine didn’t make it into the Transit Master Plan as a priority* corridor. Planners prioritized Madison for connecting downtown and the Hill by bus, perhaps thinking that Pike-Pine would lose salience as light rail took riders between Westlake and Broadway. My hunch, though, is that Pike-Pine will continue to be important. The corridor between the Market and, say, 12th Avenue, is arguably the most vibrant and walkable stretch in all of Seattle,  despite the incline. Even with light rail, there will still be a need to bus between the southern end of the Hill, Downtown, and destinations in-between.

Currently about 21,000 daily riders move through Pike-Pine, according to 2012 data from Metro. With a bit of trolley wire investment, and maybe even a dedicated lane, buses could move much more freely along the corridor. Moving Route 2 to Pike/Pine, as David suggested in his frequent network proposal, would increase ridership further.  This is an important corridor, and it should be treated as such.

Anyway, even if we don’t get a Pike-Pine busway in the near future, downtown business should still definitely invest in making the streets nicer and more interesting.

* UPDATE: Pike-Pine wasn’t identified as an HCT Corridor or a Priority Bus Corridor, but it was identified as a “Center City Priority Bus Corridor,” slated for transit priority treatments and improved stop amenities.  My mistake.

108 Replies to “Placemaking and Transit on Pike-Pine”

  1. I just want to point out that Pike/Pine is included in the Transit Master Plan as a Center City Priority Bus Corridor. SDOT will be doing conceptual design of transit/multimodal improvements between First and 15th later this year.

    1. Thanks for the update Bill. Looking forward to seeing the conceptual design as that work progresses.

      (Others, the Pike/Pine Priority Bus Corridor is called out on Pages 3-26 & 3-28 of the TMP.)

      1. Great to hear that will be moving forward sooner rather than later. Even when light rail opens, this will be an important corridor. Off-board payment and some transit priority could definitely help transit speeds, especially in the PM peak.

        It seems that a huge amount of PM peak delay is caused by lengthy dwell times at the stop on Pike between 3rd and 4th. I’d love for Metro to enforce a strict “no runner” policy (and to close the doors when boarding is complete) on all routes with headways of 15 minutes or better, which would include many of the routes that use this stop in the PM peak. This goes back to using a definition of “service” that serves the needs of the most riders.

  2. Nice plan that ignores the fact of the large concentration of social services and public housing near the core. Lipstick on a pig…

    1. Thanks for the heads-up, Don. I completely missed blight you mention, mainly because I’ve been distracted by the overwhelming and constantly increasing presence of branches of banks on life-support with my tax dollars since their own character and work habits destroyed our country’s economy. Enabling them to outbid productive businesses, like the Greek restaurant that used to be on the northbound Route 40 stop in Fremont.

      “Lipstick on a pig” is a favorite “visual” of mine. Always calls to mind former FBI director J. Edgar Hoover wearing a red cocktail dress, with appropriate facial makeup. Terrible slander even if true. Wish people would stop reminding me, though.


    2. You are correct, Don. Was it about a dozen years ago that U Way got a total makeover? The thinking was, if the city made the corridor nicer, it might improve the filthy, crime-ridden area. It was only a few short years later that the area turned back into a scary, graffiti-filled street where good, honest people like myself had to run a gauntlet of young homeless beggars bullying, threatening and throwing things at me.

      1. If you regularly find people throwing things at you, you might want to stop and consider if the problem is with you and not them.

      2. Ok, let me describe what happened and you tell me if the problem is with me. I was walking down The Ave and passed by a group of homeless youths and their pit bull sitting on the sidewalk. They took up the entire sidewalk, to I had to walk in the gutter to get around them. Their dog started growling at me when one of them said “spare change?” And I said, “I’m sorry, but I don’t have any money on me. I apologize.” Then one guy with a swastika tattooed on his arm said, “You fucking liar,” and proceeded to grab a handful of french french fries and throw them at me. At this point, he said to his dog, “get him, Adolf!” I started to run, with the dog quickly gaining. A restaurant worker saw this, and ushered me into his business and quickly shut the door, saving my life. I was literally crying at this point … actually, I’d continue this true story, but I have to go to work now. Bye.

      3. Sam, after that story, I don’t think the neo-nazi is the only one thinking that you’re a liar. Scary poor people, Good Honest American Victim(you?), a dog named after Hitler who for some reason couldn’t catch you immediately, but the real kicker is the part where you say “I apologize”, a whole sentence of its own, to express your sadness that alas, you cannot help them. Based on your previous comments here, even if the rest is true, that isn’t.

      4. Just for the record since folks are making crazy statements about University Way being scary, here’s a shameless plug for a wonderful Indian restaurant on The Ave: Shalimar. The food is Indo-Paki, so it’s spicier and less gloppy than much Indian fare, and the restaurant is run by a generous and very interesting person. Try it; you won’t regret doing so.

      5. I used to eat at Shalimar back in the day…good food.

        In fact, I visit the Ave reasonably often for Husky stuff and/or a bite–lots of decent cheap places there–and have never run into more than the odd “sullen teen” (of which I may well have been one many years ago). On the other hand, Sam is our resident Stephen Colbert, and I for one enjoy his particular brand of truthiness.

      6. Here’s my anecdote. I’m a 60+ year old woman and I’ve done my share of walking up and down the Ave. I can’t say that the “sullen teens” lend any ambiance to the area, but I’ve never had any problem with them. If someone asks me for money, I look that person in the eye, say “not today” and keep on walking. I think that looking the person right in the eye is the key. It acknowledges that the panhandler is a real person.

        Also, Shalimar is great.

    3. Nope, no social services or public housing in or around Pacific Place, just upscale boutiques.

    4. Wrong. In both U-dsitrict and Pike-Pine crime does not congregate near social services, it’s the fast food restaurants. Namely, Taco Bell and Jack-in-the-Box.

  3. Some transit history: the Downtown Seattle Transit Project originally intended an L-shaped two-way busway directly above the transit tunnel its whole length. Everybody senior in transit operations especially cheered the projected elimination of the transit island now between McDonald’s and Macy’s.

    Unfortunately, the Roosevelt Hotel prevailed on the city council to keep the present couplet, because it did not want to have to move a loading zone on Pine. I like the Roosevelt. I admired George Benson, who I think sponsored the change. But this highly special favor cost us a quarter century of impaired operations.

    The complete absence of any mention of transit really calls the basic thinking behind this entire plan into serious question. The planning team might better have left out trees. Or sidewalks. On a major thoroughfare in a major city, especially a street with wired for trolleybus, transit is a major element.

    Is this a document from a public agency or a piece of private advertising? If it’s the first one, we the people need to insist on a re-write. The other one? Please use a specified recycling receptacle. Littering creates a worse business climate than using doorways for bathrooms.

    Mark Dublin

    1. “The Downtown Seattle Association (DSA) is a non- profit community advocacy organization comprised of 600 member companies, organizations and Downtown residents. We’re dedicated to ensuring Downtown is the region’s top destination to live, work, shop and play.”

      Fortunately, I don’t see anything in their report that’s inconsistent with transit, unless you count giving uphill-downhill streets priority over the avenues and making the latter “slower.” It’s just completely ignored save for a couple references acknowledging its presence.

      1. “We’re dedicated to ensuring Downtown is the region’s top destination to live, work, shop and play.”
        Says it all – they want to make downtown into an open air Southcenter or Northgate – a giant mall.
        They could really care less about how you get there, and especially not interested in moving you through quickly – that includes trying to walk somewhere to get something accomplished on your lunch break.
        They want a pasture full of contented consumers grazing in sidewalk cafes, and dawdling shoppers spending madly on the rare goods on offer.
        The dissonant note comes from all those occupants of the street who have neither cash nor credit, and the bulk of the 7 to 5 crowd with not much more.

      2. “Living, working, shopping, and playing” is what downtown is supposed to be. Southcenter has no housing, and Northgate has only a little. Perhaps you mean their future urban villages, which will be like mini downtowns so you can do all four without leaving the neighborhood. (Northgate is on its way toward this. Southcenter has taken one baby step with its residential-lot plan.)

    2. as Dublin points out, Pike-Pine has been considered before. in the 1980s, the downtown Seattle transit project suggested that Pine Street be two-way. Councilmember Benson (often a hero: see below and recall the waterfront streetcar and his walking 3rd Avenue during construction of the DSTT), did lobby for its change for the hotel. Benson also played a role in the reopening of Pine Street. he led the Seatle Council to pass an ordinance reopening Pine Street to transit only. however, in early 1990, new Mayor Rice vetoed what was termed the Benson compromise. Transit on Pine Street goes directly over the DSTT and its Westlake entrances, reducing the transfer walks relative to service on Pike Street.

      1. Thanks for the reminder what a great visionary George was, and how Norm rolled over for rendering CPS a white elephant. Hell, the tracks, even pointed to the reversible lanes entrance, not Broadway. We could have been to Lynnwood by now and had a money left over for Ballard, W.Seattle and Federal Way.
        I recall George gasping in an RTA meeting when informed CPS would have to be abandoned – several years after opening, saying, “My God, your’re now telling me we built the station in the wrong place?”
        Oh well, the rest is history.

      2. Mic, you’re conflating several different things. One-way Pine Street has nothing to do with Link’s routing a decade later. Even at the time the DSTT was designed there was controversy over whether future rail should go on I-5 (cheaper) or to Broadway (maximum ridership and usefulness). They did NOT do any rail-route scoping at the time, they just took the short-term interest of connecting to the express lanes for peak-direction buses. They assumed Convention Place would be suitable for either future rail routing. They also assumed Convention Place wouild become a popular hub for Capitol Hill riders.

        In the bus tunnel era, Convention Place station did not meet expectations. Masses of conventioneers didn’t use it; instead the took a cab or shuttle to the airport or walked to Westlake Station. Capitol Hill crowds didn’t use it because it’s a long walk over a boring freeway overpass, and because the eastbound bus stop is a block away and past an express-lane entrance (another intersection). The eastbound stop was not the primary reason for Capitol Hill’s shunning of Convention Place, because you could just as easily transfer at Westlake.

        In the Link-planning era, transit advocates succeeded in routing it to Broadway. It was still expected to go through Convention Place, and Lynnwood did not complain about excesively long travel time or the unacceptable delay in Link reaching Lynnwood. Everyone recognized Link has to serve the centers of Capitol Hill and the U-District, which are the largest ridership generators and pedestrian/transit neighborhoods. It would be like BART bypassing the Mission District and central Berkeley.

        And if you put Link on I-5 for a cheaper/faster/sooner trip to Lynnwood, it would make DP cry because he wants to go the opposite direction with stations at Bellevue, 15th, and 23rd. And I’m sympathetic to that position even if I don’t go as far as he does. But your I-5 routing would have totally dissed Seattle and raised the question, “Why are we building it?” If Lynnwood wants Sounder-on-Link, maybe they should pay for all of it.

      3. So in the final version of ‘what got done’, CPS gets dozed in exchange for one station at Broadway and a silly streetcar that will forever be a joke on ridership to serve all of 1st and Cap Hill. Metro will still be required to run a shit load of service to the same area, and transit as we know it will get even more expensive to maintain.
        Well Done Seattle!

      4. So in the final version of ‘what got done’, CPS gets dozed in exchange for one station at Broadway

        The station at Broadway has a unique walkshed that encompasses virtually all of the dense areas in Capitol Hill. CPS is at the edge of a freeway; its western walkshed is cannibalized by Westlake, and its eastern walkshed is cut off by I-5. Given the choice between the two stations, Broadway is unambiguously the better choice. This should be clear from the incredibly low ridership at CPS today, despite the incredibly high frequency of service.

        and a silly streetcar that will forever be a joke on ridership to serve all of 1st and Cap Hill.

        The First Hill Streetcar will serve some of the densest corridors in the state. It will provide a high-capacity direct connection between Capitol Hill and Little Saigon, and it will bring frequent transit service to the south end of Broadway for the first time in decades. It also provides some much-needed capacity on Jackson, which is one of the highest-ridership corridors in Metro’s entire network. I think the streetcar’s ridership will be much higher than you fear.

        It would be nice if the streetcar ran in dedicated lanes. It would also be nice if the streetcar ran all the way north to the U-District, or all the way east to 31st Street, to obviate the need for the 49 or the 14. There’s nothing stopping us from making both of these improvements at a later point in time. In the meantime, the streetcar will improve service along the corridors where it runs. It will especially improve service for parents with strollers, and for women (since the interior layout makes it easier to walk away from sketchy types), and for the elderly, and for people with mobility disabilities. These are all important constituencies who are often implicitly left behind by transit planning. The streetcar is a rare improvement that will unambiguously benefit them, and we shouldn’t condemn it just because it won’t help the people who are well-served by the existing system.

        Metro will still be required to run a shit load of service to the same area, and transit as we know it will get even more expensive to maintain.

        The marginal operating cost of the First Hill Streetcar is a drop in the bucket, compared to the cost of operating Metro’s whole network. We’re talking one short route that runs 6 times an hour at most.

        If you really want to reduce Metro’s per-rider operating cost, then help us push for building ST3 using driverless technology, and for reorganizing service to improve ridership, and for changing the way that we regulate land use to encourage the types of development that will foster walking and transit use. Fighting the FHSC — a project that is all but completed — is not going to accomplish your goal.

      5. Sorry I offended you Alexs. I forgot how ‘Unique’ Seattle is with respect to walksheds, neighborhoods, transit planning in general, and personal behavior.
        And while were at it, 3,000 riders on a 200 million streetcar seems like a real bargain. Maybe that would spruce up Pike/Pine? Another branch line to somewhere else?
        As far as cost per rider goes. We’re Seattle. Who gives a fuck! We’ll just keep creating more transit districts and having elections.
        ‘That’s the Ticket’

      6. Not to aid and abet mic’s thread hijacking, but mic, would you be more likely to vote for the April 22 ballot measure if the county had not had to create a Transportation Benefit District in order to raise raise tax and vehicle license fees?

      7. That would be “raise sales tax”, not super-raise tax. At any rate, sorry mic interrupted this scintillating discussion of the future of the Pike/Pine corridor.

      8. Again Brent, I apologize for hijacking a topic about transit on Pike/Pine, with my endless rants about how decisions made in the past, that we are currently building, are counter productive to actually creating good transit outcomes for the future.
        One station on Broadway is great for the walkshed area around it, and if you can catch a bus to it, great for other station pairs that Link will connect to. Unfortunately, that’s about where it ends, but the cash to build it is now gone, and future cash is dedicated to pay off the bonds, so that just leaves new revenue sources to build other, equally pro transit solutions.
        I suspect the Puget Sound is nearly ‘tapped out’ on supporting significant transit investments in the future, and the high cost per rider will shackle the total transit system (MT + ST + FTA) forever.
        But hey, I’m a pessimist by nature, not Ben.

      9. I’m not offended. Are you? :)

        I’m not saying we should spend $50 billion to turn every Seattle bus line into a streetcar. I don’t think that would be a great use of our money.

        What I am saying is this:

        – The First Hill Streetcar will make Seattle materially better, regardless of whether anyone thinks it was worth the money. This is qualitatively different from the Alaskan Way Viaduct tunnel, which will make Seattle materially worse, regardless of whether anyone thinks it was worth the money.
        – Going forward, even if we decide to make different types of transit investments, we should think about the important advantages that the FHSC offers (in terms of legibility and safety and accessibility), and we should try to ensure that our future transit improvements extend those benefits to a greater number of riders.

        That’s all.

      10. “CPS gets dozed in exchange for one station at Broadway”

        What Aleks said. Capitol Hill station Serves the largest single chunk of Capitol Hill’s ridership, and it’s the second-greatest need in the region (after the U-District/UW). Convention Place Station serves one block at the very edge of the Hill. If you don’t see the difference, it suggests you have no comprehension of what it’s like to not have a car and to travel primarily by transit.

        “a silly streetcar that will forever be a joke on ridership” VS “densest corridors in the state… high-capacity direct connection between Capitol Hill and Little Saigon… frequent transit service to the south end of Broadway for the first time in decades”

        I agree with both of you. It’s not a particularly high-need corridor, but it does address chronic underservice on lower Broadway and the missing Broadway-Jackson connection. Ridership will probably be moderate until we do the long-term things Aleks suggests.

        “Metro will still be required to run a shit load of service to the same area”

        The only way to lower that is to adopt DP’s suggestion of three more stations (Summit, 15th, 23rd). That would make Link even more expensive. Some of that “shit load of bus service” is going to areas Link doesn’t, most notably Madison and Queen Anne, and also upper 15th, 10th, Summit, and east Union.

        I think the problems with Convention Place were foreseeable, and they go back to the walking distance from Capitol Hill and the human revulsion to freeway overpasses and concrete station design. It was clearly an automobilist, modernist idea, with no concept of what non-drivers need or human aesthetics wants. Like Jarrett Walker’s anecdode on the BART “triangle” at SFO-Millbrae-San Bruno. It looks fine to drivers because individual cars can go any direction. But a train has to either go around the triangle (taking longer for the last station), or split (halving the frequency at the last two stations, and requiring a shuttle or transfer between them). Likewise Convention Place Station barely serves any of Capitol Hill’s walkshed. But Capitol Hill was only a secondary purpose of the station. Its primary purpose was for peak-direction buses from the express lanes (i.e., North Seattle only, and sorry Kirkland your exit is wrong).

    3. The firm who created the report is a landscape architecture firm, which tells me that they were limited in scope to the streetscape and nothing else (transit, etc.). That’s why such heavy emphasis is placed on the sidewalk, planters and the like.

      1. Just like how the Alaskan way was to feature Pedicabs as a major N/S transportation service…. Did anything ever become of that debacle?

    4. People don’t give the Downtown Seattle Association credit for what it does, and it doesn’t always go out of way to take credit. The DSA was a leading advocate for the existence of the Ride Free Area, has historically supported well-funded transit, has been one of the few neighborhood organizations to acknowledge the need for human service agencies to be based somewhere (while other neighborhoods fight tooth and nail to keep any and all of them out of their psychologically-gated and sprawling bedroom communities), employs people to help answer questions from pedestrians, has been active in every citizen transit community I’ve watched, and is a major backer of the current Move King County Now campaign. When it comes to neighborhood groups, the DSA is one of the few dependable allies we transit advocates have.

  4. I’d favour tarting up Pike Street (and making it 2 way) from the Market to Boren, but Pine street needs a serious makeover, and the DSA who, we should remember, sponsored the vote on “re-opening” of Pine street in front of Westlake Center, seems to have shown little interest in reducing automobile use in downtown other than by commuters. At a minimum Pine needs to be a two way ped/bike/transit corridor from at least 12th and preferably 15th all the way to the Market, and the #10 needs to be converted to streetcar. The downtown avenues should be slowed by shortening the north/soputh signal times and by strict “box” enforcemtn during the rush hours. Lengthening the east/west signals on both Pike and Pine would assist immeasurably in moving traffic and transit on these 2 streets. THEN we make pretty along these two important streets.

    1. Pine needs to be a two way ped/bike/transit corridor from at least 12th and preferably 15th all the way to the Market

      Noooooo! Stop this insanity. Closing streets off just for the sake of closing streets of doesn’t do anyone any good.

      What problem are you actually trying to solve? The pedestrian needs of Pike/Pine on Capitol Hill are vastly different. In fact, I’d go so far as to say they are diametrically opposed.

      Pike/Pine on the Hill is a nightlife district. Pike/Pine downtown is a daytime shopping district.

      1. Pine Street downtown has large crowds even at 9:30 and 10pm almost every day. And thirty people getting on the 49 or 43 at one time, and then another crowd fifteen minutes later on the next bus. I’ve lived near there for eight years now, and I’m constantly surprised at how many pedestrians and eastbound bus riders there are in the evenings, and the bus riders in particular seem to be increasing.

        Part of it is people going to the two multiplex cinemas or the Paramount. Part of it is evening dinner or shopping. Part of it is people transferring. Part of it is the panhandlers and drug dealers. But part of it I have no idea, it must just be the sum of people doing different things. You see people filling the sidewalk you think, “These people can’t all be going to the department stores, can they?” They would surely crowd the large department stores if they did, yet you don’t see that.

  5. Of course, I know you people will be consistent and scream “duplication of service!” and demand routes like the 10, 11, and 49, be reduced after U Link opens up. So I’m not sure where this enthusiasm for improved bus service along Pike/Pine is coming from. Haven’t rail fetishists been boasting that Cap Hill residents will switch from buses to light rail when it opens? So if anything, we need to spend less on transit-related improvements for this corridor because bus passenger go bye bye.

    1. Link is a limited-stop service which serves specific trip pairs, namely Westlake to Broadway & John. That’s the biggest chunk of riders but it’s not everybody. A lot of people are going to the Summit area, east Pike-Pine, 15th, Trader Joe’s, etc. Even if the total service hours are reduced, there will still be a need for a frequent or ultra-frequent route on Pine Street.

      Part of its current problem is there are a lot of buses but they’re uncoordinated. From Pine to Bellevue there are five routes; from Bellevue to Broadway three routes; and from Broadway to 15th two routes. But only a tiny fraction of people live near the five-route area so the rest can’t use it. And even in the two-route area, the 10 and 11 are often half-hourly with one coming five minutes after the other, so they can’t be mistaken for combined frequent service. What transit advocates want is a consolidation of these routes somehow, so that there are a few frequent, evenly-spaced routes, rather than the spaghetti that becomes infrequent right at Bellevue.

      1. No, Sam’s right.

        It’s total bullshit to spend billions of dollars on something and have the access penalty from the busy pieces of city directly above it be so compromised that the buses will (legitimately) remain time-advantageous for a lot of trips.

        The need for half a dozen high-volume routes up Pike/Pine could have been alleviated with any version of an urban-aimed subway that had more than one Capitol Hill stop.

        What we’re building is an error. Please don’t defend errors.

      2. Successful transit systems don’t fragment service and fuck over anyone not bestowed the favor of being a “specific trip pair”. What Sound Transit is doing under Capitol Hill is unsuccessful transit.

      3. Step one, William, is to learn from our motherfucking mistakes, so as not to repeat them. If that means admitting the troll is right for once, so be it.

      4. True.

        But the point I was trying to make was that, despite what Sam said, we still lamentably will need high-frequency service on Pike/Pine. If Link had been built correctly, we wouldn’t – but we do.

      5. The problem is that for most people, trips along Pike/Pine between downtown and 15th generally fall into two categories:

        1) Trips that are short enough so that simply walking all the way is sufficient – no transit necessary.

        2) Trips between downtown and somewhere between Broadway and 15th. These trips will be nicely served by taking Link to Capitol Hill station and walking. Again, no bus service necessary.

        I’m not saying that there shouldn’t be any bus service along Pine. Clearly in an area as dense as capitol hill, there will be enough people with disabilities that have trouble walking up the hill to warrant bus service through the corridor alongside the train. But this hardly seems a justification for spending hundreds of millions of dollars more and slowing down everybody else’s trip to add another Link station at Summit. Nor is it worth the expense of making the bus service ultra-frequent to be time-competitive with walking for the mass audience (I think it would take headways on the order of 5 minutes or less).

        I think an appropriate level of investment would be multiple routes combining for 10-minute headways, similar to today’s level of service. However, a two-way Pine St. to eliminate the jog over from Pike would certainly be good.

      6. FWIW, I moved to Summit (Thomas & Bellevue) nine years ago. It was a 10-minute walk to the 5-bus convergence at Pine & Bellevue, and a 20-minute walk to Westlake Station. The 14 bus was direct but half-hourly, so not worth waiting for. I took it when it was about to come and ignored it when it wasn’t.

        Four years ago my bf moved in and we needed a larger place. I really wanted to be near the 5-bus convergence and Westlake, so I moved five blocks closer. (1 min walk to the bus stop, 5 min to Convention Place, 10 min to Westlake) That was significantly more convenient, and turned out to be even more important than I expected. I work in northeast Seattle and go to Bellevue once a week. My bf works in Kent, was going to school in Northgate, is now looking for a second job somewhere, goes to monthly reserve drill in Everett. He got rid of his car when it needed a $1500 transmission, and that saves $150/month for parking.

        Living anywhere else, even other parts of Capitol Hill, would be good for one or two of these destinations but significantly worse for others. We need to bring this level of transit to other parts of the city so that people have a wider choice of where to live without losing frequent transit or the ability to get to many parts of the county within an hour. That’s what’s great about Link: it “extends” downtown all along its corridor, and that brings a lot of areas and people into contact with frequent/fast/far transit.

        Ironically, DP’s Summit Station would be perfect for my current location. I could step out my front door onto it. Without it, I’m exactly halfway between Westlake and Capitol Hill stations. But we need to weigh the three-station wish against its cost and the political consensus that has allowed Link to get this far. The time to argue for those stations was eight or ten years ago, not now when construction is underway. And I did not hear a peep about those stations at the time.

      7. Asdf, again you’re overestimating how far most people are willing to walk, especially for every trip they make. It’s one thing to walk from 4th to 12th occasionally, or even a couple times a week, but it’s another thing to do that every day because there’s only one half-hourly bus. People in transit-rich areas do take buses more than they “have to”, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Should San Francisco lower its frequency so people only use transit for “necessary” trips, or would that degrade its urban environment?

        Also, people’s “need” for a bus changes for different trips. Sometimes you’re in a hurry; other times a refreshing walk is just what you want. Sometimes you’re carrying a backback and two heavy bags; other times you’re carrying nothing. Sometimes you’re out of energy or strained your ankle, but aren’t permanently disabled.

        There’s ample reason for a full-time 15-minute, 10-minute, or even 5-minute route on Pine Street, because of the high ridership and density in that corridor. It should go all the way to 15th for consistency (i.e., the 10 or 11). Additional service on the 49, 43, or 47 can be at whatever level Metro desires. All this would be a reduction in total service hours but would improve service throughout the Pine-from-3rd-to-15th walk circle, which covers the largest chunk of Capitol Hill riders.

      8. Mike: Save your breath. asdf has been talking for years about his casual 2-mile uphill walks to avoid taking two different buses. We’re not going to convince him, and he’s not going to convince anyone else.

        Regarding Pike/Pine service, once U-Link opens, I really think Metro’s highest priority should be to restructure the 9/36/49/60 into something like David Lawson’s 34/35. Using the savings from not sending the 49 downtown and from not running the 9, they can upgrade the 11 to all-day frequent service. You end up with four frequent routes, and combined 7.5-minute service all the way to 15th. There are other restructures that Metro might consider, but this one really seems like a no-brainer.

  6. I don’t think it’s a foregone conclusion that Madison Street is where we should be directing our transit investments.

    As a continuous transit corridor, Madison leaves something to be desired. It runs askew to the grid; if you’re starting out on Pike/Pine or further north, you want a bus that’s going to take you to Pike/Pine downtown or further north, not to somewhere further south. And also, Madison is a wide street, with lots of car traffic, that cuts through the southeastern edge of Pike/Pine. There’s no reason that we should be funneling so much traffic through an otherwise pedestrian-oriented neighborhood.

    For once, I think Metro, rather than SDOT, has the right idea. The 11 provides service to “upper Madison” via Pike/Pine; the 2/12 will provide service to “lower Madison”, with the 2 continuing on Union to Madrona. Eventually, I’d even like to see the intersection at 12th Ave rebuilt to give priority to Union-Madison traffic, to avoid the “bowtie” and to discourage cars from taking Madison all the way through Pike/Pine.

    1. Running askew to the grid is only bad if it introduces inefficiencies in the form of jumbled intersections etc, which Madison definitely does. But at least in theory, a clean diagonal can be a good thing.

      1. I would argue there’s no such thing as a clean diagonal. :) Just about any conceivable diagonal street is going to create a series of awkward 3-way or 5-way intersections at best. New York City had the same problem with Broadway; traffic has improved since the street has been de-arterialized. And, in fact, Seattle is doing roughly the same thing with Broad Street (although that situation is different because of the grade separation).

        Regardless, my main argument is practical. I think that traffic would flow better if Madison were split up and rechanneled, and I also think that Pike/Pine would be better for pedestrians without a major car arterial running through the middle.

    2. On that line of thinking I wonder if it makes more sense for the 11 to serve upper madison via Olive Way and John/Thomas (like the 43). That would provide better connections between the 11 and Link as well as making the system more grided.

      1. My main hesitation with that idea is that you need to figure out a way to provide service to Madison between 16th and 24th. Conversely, John/Thomas already has service (via the 8).

        Hypothetically, I guess you could run three different buses on different parts of Madison: the 2 from downtown to 12th, the X (6?) from 16th to 24th, and the 11 from 24th to Madison Park. But that seems unnecessarily complex.

        Also, the section of John/Thomas between 15th and 23rd just isn’t that exciting. To the north, there are mostly single-family homes. To the south, you’re within the walkshed of service on Madison.

    3. The problem with Madison is not that it’s diagonal, but that its First Hill part is far from the all-day destinations on Pike-Pine. It’s a 10-minute walk from Bellevue & Madison to Bellevue & Pine — i.e., it consumes the entire walk circle. Madison’s First Hill destinations are useful only to sick people, their caregivers, and the elderly in those highrises. Going down to 3rd & Madison, it’s a 3+ block walk to either University Street Station or Pioneer Square Station, so not a great transfer. These are why the 11 runs on Madison-Pine instead of Madison-Madison, and it’s going to be hard to overcome without forcing a lot of people to walk further. I wish First Hill Madison and downtown Madison would get a wider variety of destinations, but that seems like a long-term problem. Although I heard something about an office building being rebuilt or refurbished downtown, so that might give an opportunity for more all-day destinations if the owner does it right.

      1. I think you’re understating the importance of Madison. It has heavy ridership from early in the morning until the hospitals close at 6 or 7. (I’m assuming most people don’t take the bus to the emergency department.) That makes it qualitatively different than somewhere like Overlake TC, which has a peak in the morning and another peak in the evening, but is pretty quiet otherwise.

        I could be wrong, but I don’t think Metro is making any routing decisions based on proximity to downtown tunnel stations, though I could be wrong. Their proposed change to the 2 would move it a lot further away from any tunnel station. They already changed the 12 to remove the 1st Ave loop that riders could use to transfer at Westlake.

        It seems more likely that Metro just doesn’t want to rock the boat. The 11 isn’t a particularly frequent bus, and so it’s useful mainly for people going to its unique destinations — e.g. Madison between 23rd and Lake Washington. Moving the bus wouldn’t meaningfully improve Metro’s frequent network, so there’s no point.

      2. “It has heavy ridership from early in the morning until the hospitals close at 6 or 7.”

        Those are all medical workers, outpatients, and people getting prescriptions. That’s important but it’s a limited section of the public. You can’t make aspirin for dinner, or dine at a clinic, or boogie at a dentist’s office, or buy shoes in the emergency room, or take Math 124 in the operating room, but you can do all these on the 11’s route, so it serves a wider cross-section of people. I’m not saying that Madison BRT is a bad idea; I’m just saying that Madison Street has a somewhat limited variety of destinations.

      3. Well, I am saying that Madison BRT is a bad idea, but that’s a separate issue. ;-)

        I don’t disagree that First Hill transit usage is almost exclusively medical. What I’m pushing back on is your original statement that Madison service is mostly useful to “sick people”. Everyone gets sick or injured sometimes, and even healthy people still need to get preventative and diagnostic care. In this way, medical centers are qualitatively different than a lot of other uses. If you’re older than 18, you probably don’t care about public schools. A lot of people don’t go to restaurants or bars or clubs, or don’t often shop for clothes or shoes. But everyone needs medical care.

      4. Aleks, that’s the first time I’ve heard a transit fan besides myself defend the 11’s Madison-Pine routing. And I’m divided about it because it contributes to a transit mishmash on Madison. So what would you do for the rest of Madison if the 11 remains on its current route? Would you continue with the 12 to 19th, or what would you do with the 12?

      5. I was in favor of an all-Madison routing for a long time. My change of heart is due to a few factors. I saw the SDOT/WSDOT plan for Broad Street, and realized that the street grid itself isn’t set in stone. I saw Metro’s proposal for Route 2, and realized that the proposed route is more “grid-correct” than any all-Madison route could ever be. And I thought some more about Madison Street, and how the current design and layout has led to several underutilized blocks in southwestern Capitol Hill.

        Regarding the “mishmash”, the fact that a street exists doesn’t mean that we need to run a bus down it. As others have pointed out to me, it doesn’t make sense to run a bus on Lake City Way all the way from 65th to 125th, even though it’s a major commercial corridor. In both cases, we have an important street for cars, but one that doesn’t mesh well with the bus network.

        Consider the square bounded by Thomas/John at the north, Union at the south, 15th at the west, and 23rd at the east. Even if you’re smack dab in the middle of this square, you’re within the quarter-mile walkshed of *four* different frequent corridors, not counting Madison. A quarter-mile walk to 15th or Pine will take you to Capitol Hill or north downtown. A quarter-mile walk to Union will take you to First Hill or middle downtown, including the Central Library. A quarter-mile walk to John/Thomas will take you to Capitol Hill, or north downtown, or SLU/LQA, or the U-District. A quarter-mile walk to 23rd will take you to the U-District, or the Central District, or Mount Baker, or any of the many destinations along the 48.

        Altogether, I think that the portion of Madison between 12th and 24th (and especially between 12th and 16th) hurts mobility more than it helps, and I don’t think we should be doubling down by running a bus along the length.

        Here’s what I’d do with buses in the area once U-Link opens:

        – Split the 8 (like in Metro’s proposal), but extend the 8N to Madison Park.
        – Adopt Metro’s Route 2 restructure.
        – Delete the 11, 12, and 43.
        – Use the service hours from the deleted routes to improve all-day frequency on the 2, 8, 10, and 48 to 10 minutes. (The improved frequency on the 2 eliminates the need for the 12.)

        I haven’t done a rigorous analysis, but my back-of-the-envelope calculations suggest that this service pattern would be cheaper than what we’re currently running. Here are the corridors that will be cheaper (even though some will have better frequency):

        – John/Thomas: 8 buses/hour to 6 buses/hour
        – 23rd/24th (north of John): 8 -> 6
        – Madison (12th to 19th): 6 -> 0 (!)
        – Madison (19th to 24th): 2 -> 0
        – 19th Ave: 4 -> 0
        – MLK (Madison to Jackson): 4 -> 0
        – Seneca/Spring: 4 -> 0

        Here are the ones that will cost the same:

        – Pine (downtown to 15th): 6 buses/hour
        – Madison (24th to MLK): 6

        Here are the ones that will be more expensive:

        – Madison (downtown to 12th): 4 buses/hour to 6 buses/hour. Paid for by moving Route 2 to Madison, with some left over.
        – 15th Ave: 4 -> 6. Paid for using the service hours left over from deleting the 43’s E-W segment.
        – 23rd (south of John): 4 -> 6. Paid for using the service hours left over from deleting the 43’s N-S segment.
        – Union St (12th to Madrona): 4 -> 6. Paid for by deleting Route 11.
        – Madison (MLK to Madison Park): 2 -> 6. Paid for by deleting the 12 east of 12th Ave.

        The resulting service pattern is simple and high-frequency. I don’t see any way to achieve the same level of service, for the same cost, while also running a diagonal bus on Madison.

      6. OK, thanks. I could possibly be convinced of that, But here are some counterfactors. One, Madison is the widest street in the area, so the easiest to get transit lanes approved on. Two, the city is already studying Madison BRT and it’s in the TMP, so the city and Metro are unlikely to change their minds on that. Trying to get them to do so would split the pro-transit influence and make it less effective, the same way Mic’s “less Link” and DP’s “more Link” positions do. We need to get things done that have been agreed on, not endlessly keep stirring them around in the “Seattle process”.

      7. Two thought experiments.

        One, If it were possible to significantly modify Madison Street like Broad Street is undergoing [1], how would you change it? For instance, would you delete the section between Boren and 23rd? What would you do to neighboring streets, and how would it affect traffic? What about the buildings that have been built facing Madison?

        Two, if you’re against Madison BRT, would it be possible to argue for moving it rather than just not doing it? The need for east-west mobilitywill not go away, so we have to do something. Madison-Pine BRT? Pine Street BRT? The latter would complement Mark’s and others’ wish to make Pine two-way for transit (and force the Roosevelt hotel to move its loading zone) [2].

        [1] I think it’s easier to modify Broad than Madison. Broad Street was part of the I-5 devastation of lower Queen Anne/Cacade, and had only decaying warehouses and parking lots adjacent. Madison is the main street in the central/east districts since the grid was laid in the 1800s.

        [2] When i first heard about the loading zone issue, I was told that not keeping it on Pine would affect the hotel’s viability. I did not hear that moving the loading zone was an option. Is it really?

      8. One, Madison is the widest street in the area, so the easiest to get transit lanes approved on.

        While that’s true, the only part that matters is the part west of 12th. If we get transit lanes on that portion, then they will work equally as well for the revised Route 2, or Madison/Union BRT.

        Two, the city is already studying Madison BRT and it’s in the TMP, so the city and Metro are unlikely to change their minds on that.

        This is probably the best counterargument to my proposal. My rebuttal is that the city and Metro haven’t agreed on anything. Metro’s reluctance to change the 11 — even when it’s making other radical changes, like its proposal for the 2 — suggests that Metro has very much *not* bought into the idea of an all-Madison service. The TMP also proposed other changes that Metro will never accept in a million years, such as splitting the 7 at Mount Baker.

        Anyway, the important part of Madison BRT is the part that goes to 12th. (I kind of wish that it went to 11th Ave, just so I could say that it goes to 11, but oh well.) I think everyone agrees on that. West of there, the demand largely goes away (as measured by existing bus ridership), and so does most of the congestion. It would be just as easy to continue east on Union as to continue east on Madison. (More on this below.)

        Finally, unless I’m mistaken, the city has funded the effort to *study* BRT, not to *build* it. Therefore, this is exactly the right time to raise objections and to make alternative proposals. If and when they approve something, I’ll stop objecting to it.

        One, If it were possible to significantly modify Madison Street like Broad Street is undergoing [1], how would you change it?

        It’s funny you should ask! :) I wrote up my thoughts in an article. You can find a draft here; the final version will be appearing on The Urbanist in a few days.

        Here’s the short version:

        – No changes west of 12th, or east of 24th.
        – From 12th through 16th, turn the street into something like Bell Street Park.
        – From 16th through 24th, perform a stop diet, keeping it as an arterial but discouraging through traffic.
        – Change the intersections at 12th, 16th, and 24th, to encourage traffic to use alternate arterials (Union, John/Thomas, 12th, 23rd).

        For instance, would you delete the section between Boren and 23rd?

        I wouldn’t delete anything, unless you count building Madison Street Park between 12th and 16th. I certainly wouldn’t touch anything west of 12th.

        What would you do to neighboring streets, and how would it affect traffic?

        Some arterial traffic would shift to John/Thomas, especially coming from Madison Park. That’s fine, since John/Thomas is an underutilized arterial with basically non-existent walkability. In the Central District, traffic would mostly shift to John/Thomas and to Union, or in some cases, to Pine. Ambulances and medical vehicles would continue using Madison, which would actually be easier, due to the reduced traffic.

        What about the buildings that have been built facing Madison?

        You would be surprised at how few of these buildings exist. All of the new construction on Madison — literally, all of it — has been built with corner entrances, or with entrances definitively on side streets. The 1700 Madison building literally has a black wall facing Madison. The Safeway building has all of its entrances on 22nd or 23rd. Lawrence Lofts at 19th has a corner entrance. Et cetera. No one builds anything facing Madison, because in its current form, it’s such a pedestrian-hostile street.

        It’s true that there are some older buildings that face Madison, especially between 12th and 16th. But they will still face onto a street; it will just be a narrower street that’s more pedestrian-friendly. If I were the owner of Piecora’s or Chop Suey, I would be strongly advocating for this change, since it would have the potential to dramatically increase my walk-in traffic.

        As one small exception, there is a auto repair shop with an entrance facing Madison, at around 13th or 14th. Obviously, this change would be catastrophic for them. I think the only answer would be for the city to pay for the renovation or reconstruction of their building so that the garage entrance is moved to a side street, and to do this *before* changing Madison.

        Two, if you’re against Madison BRT, would it be possible to argue for moving it rather than just not doing it?

        Yes, absolutely. The most important part of Madison BRT is the part that goes from downtown to 12th Ave, and that should get built no matter what. From there, the natural extension (given my proposed changes) is along Union to 23rd. What would probably make the most sense would be to build BRT features from downtown to 23rd, but to keep running the service all the way to the 2’s current terminal, albeit without off-board payment or reserved lanes or other BRT features.

        I think Pine BRT would be fantastic as well, but I don’t think it should come before Madison BRT. First, Madison/Union serves a market that is much less similar to the market served by Capitol Hill Station, both in terms of geography, and in terms of socioeconomic class. Building BRT on Pine before Madison would be a great way to convince folks that rich people get better transit than poor people. Second, Madison/Union is a continuous east-west corridor, with a major transfer point at 23rd and Union. Pine Street service either goes north (which doesn’t help E-W travel), or east along Madison (which is exactly what I’m arguing is redundant).

        I think it’s easier to modify Broad than Madison. Broad Street was part of the I-5 devastation of lower Queen Anne/Cacade, and had only decaying warehouses and parking lots adjacent. Madison is the main street in the central/east districts since the grid was laid in the 1800s.

        There’s no question that the situations are very different. But here’s my argument. Back when Madison was first laid out, it served a vital role in the regional transit network of the time. If you wanted to get to the Eastside, you took the cable car up Madison to the water, and then took a ferry. These days, Madison Park is a much less important destination. There are plenty of alternative streets for cars coming from 520, and there are comparatively few people whose actual origin or destination is on Madison St west of 12th.

        In addition, while it’s true that Madison has historically been an important street, I think it functions more like a dividing line than a neighborhood center. It’s really astonishing to walk across Madison between 16th and 24th, and to see the incredibly fancy houses to the north turn into the small bungalows to the south. And again, while several big buildings are on Madison, almost none of them actually *face* it, which suggests that most people just aren’t bought into the idea of Madison itself being an important pedestrian corridor. For better or worse, it’s mostly a street for cars, just like Broad Street, and that’s what I want to change.

        Note that the above paragraph is referring only to the section between 16th and 24th. To the east of there, Madison is clearly the only game in town, and it functions much more like a neighborhood main street. West of 12th, Madison is just a regular (and very important) part of the downtown/First Hill street grid. Between 12th and 16th, Madison is no more important than Pike or Pine, but its presence harms the walkability of those streets.

      9. So would cars still be allowed between 12th and 16th? Would you be able to drive from 1st Avenue straight to Madison Park?

      10. I can’t believe I just realized that “Madison Street Park” would be the most confusing name ever. I’m going to call it “Madison Street Woonerf” from now on.

        Yes, cars would still be allowed, but they wouldn’t be encouraged. It would be like Bell Street Park or Pike Place; if there’s somebody walking in the street, the car will just have to wait patiently until they move.

        Yes, you could theoretically drive along Madison Street from Colman Dock to Madison Park. But in practice, I would expect most drivers to shift to alternate routes, such as Olive/John/Thomas or Pine. It’s similar to how you can drive along Denny Way from Lower Queen Anne (where it’s an arterial) to Madrona (where it’s also an arterial) [1], but in practice, most people take Union/34th or Lake Washington Boulevard. In both cases, intersections are (or will be) constructed such that staying on the named street would be the equivalent of making a left turn from an arterial onto a local access road. Most people just follow the road, even if its name changes.

        [1] With two exceptions. There is the block of Denny temporarily closed off by station construction. And to get from 21st Ave to 23rd Ave, Denny doesn’t connect, so you have make some funky turns, and travel a couple of blocks on Madison.

      11. I don’t know what you mean by “Bell Street Park”. I thought that’s the dog-walking park at 3rd & Bell, which is closed to cars.

        When I was in junior high, the artist who designed the sculpture there came to my school to talk about it. So I’ve always noticed that park as it has changed over the years. First it was a regular park, then a homeless hangout, and now a dog-walking park.

      12. [Bleh, sorry. Mods, can you please delete the other aborted comment, and this prefix?]

        Ah, I see! No, I’m talking about this Bell Street Park. It’s a four-block section of Bell Street that was redesigned as a woonerf. I believe the park that you’re talking about is currently called “Regrade Park”, though its name may have changed over the years.

      13. I went down to the park today. Impressive, and more than just the sidewalk addons like on Vine Street. It still feels to me more like a one-lane street than a woonerf though, with the raised sidewalks on the side and crosswalks at the ends. People wouldn’t hesitate to walk across it, but they might still think it’s illegal to walk down the middle of it because it looks like a car lane, and they’d probably feel out of place on it.

  7. Personal confession: In 1973 or so, the University of Pennsylvania Department of Landscape Architecture responded to my application to study with the great Ian McHarg with comment that they’d need to teach me how to draw first. After I specifically included a rendering of a monorail with sculptured animals for pillars.

    20th century European history shows danger of telling short people they can’t draw. Hungry for revenge, plunged into depraved life of transit driving instead, where fate cursed the Downtown Seattle Transit Project- including its revision- with my presence on two of the advisory committees. Also recalled U of Penn experience when Waterfront chief designer James Corner told me he’d never heard of George Benson. His streetcar-free plan proved it.

    Admit psychotic phobia triggered by all renderings. Still need a computer to draw. But the issue isn’t presence or absence of images in pictures. Incidentally, really do appreciate the +1 for the streetcar connector- good pic too- and the plan to civilize alleys. But on the proposed new Waterfront and Downtown, the real problem is thinking of urban planning as cosmetic.

    Going “downtown” for an image: The transit system isn’t a window display. It’s your store’s elevator and escalator system. You wouldn’t put a jewelry case, let alone a mannikin, halfway up an escalator or across an elevator shaft. And while Kemper Freeman might really yearn to open the aisles of Bellevue Square to car traffic, his credit sources, insurers, and legal teams fight him.

    Good one-liner for both city planning and wilderness ecology: “Life: It’s not scenery. It’s machinery!”


  8. Um, why is the illustration of “the Pike/Pine corridor” a photograph Second Avenue looking south from about Union? Don’t we see our old — and very iconic — friend the LC Smith Tower in the distance peeking in from the left? And isn’t that the Federal Building above the woman reading the book in the middle of the street?

    Are you lost Downtown Seattle Association?

    1. “The study area includes much of Downtown Seattle’s central
      business district, generally from Elliott Bay to I-5, and from
      Seneca to Virginia Streets (pink shaded area), with emphasis on
      the Pike-Pine corridor from 1st Avenue to Interstate 5.”

      The caption for that photo says it’s at 2nd & Stewart.

      1. So they took a picture of one transverse slice of the “corridor”. OK; I get that. But why? Why not stand at First or Second and Pine or Pike and take the underlying shot eastward. Heck, on Pine from Second they’d even get some real live actual trees in the shot! (The trees that people are complaining about them removing IIRC).

        I can see that the photo is from Stewart rather than Union because the building with balconies on the right beyond the trees is at Pike.

        That must be one heck of a telephoto to bring the Smith Tower up close and personal like that.

  9. Look at the two trees on the left side in the foreground. The tree closest to us has the sun shining from the right, and the tree just behind it has the sun shining from the left. Also, this as to be the first illustration I’ve ever seen that’s prominently included a homeless person.

      1. Not to mention, a woman standing in the middle of the street reading a book. They must have got that idea from Portland or something….

      2. The woman looking at the book is a tourist trying to find that Pike’s Peak Market in her travel guide.

      3. Actually she’s looking up OBA to see how many minutes she has till the next trolley mows her down. At least the homeless guy has the sense to keep moving.

  10. I think narrowing sidewalks is a terrible idea. If they take away parking or roadway, fine, but don’t place any trees on what is now sidewalk

      1. Could do, but it looks from the plans that there are many streets in the plan, you couldn’t do it to them all. Sidewalks down there are already too narrow on most streets

      2. Glenn,

        That’s a beautiful mall, indeed. But I have to say, it looks deserted in both your photo AND the Google Maps StreetView at every cross street. The StreetView of the large plaza at the Government Center and then at the Convention Center also show nobody.

        Either nobody goes to downtown Memphis ever, or they stay away from the transit mall.

      3. Either nobody goes to downtown Memphis ever, or they stay away from the transit mall.

        I’ll defer to Alek’s experience, but I would also point out that the people who have their photos put on the NYCSubway web site are typically trying to illustrate urban railway equipment, stations, right of way, or other features.

        Also, I’ve been yelled at a few times by people thinking I was taking their photo, even when the camera wasn’t even pointed anywhere in their direction. It’s best to just wait for a time when there isn’t anyone around to complain. Possibly, that is what was done here.

        However, in the middle link you can see some people over on one of the benches, nearly hidden behind one of the trolleys.

      4. Glenn,

        OK, that makes sense for the NYCSubway photos. It doesn’t explain the absence of pedestrians in the StreetView photos. Very few people appear; it looks like a Neutron bomb went off.

    1. Agreed. It’s called the sideWALK, not the side slalom. Trees are great, but the first and highest purpose of the sidewalk is pedestrian mobility.

  11. Pine should be closed at the park again and buses and cars shifted elsewhere except for loading/local access. Pine has the highest concentration of pedestrians in the city most days and turn movements are painfully slow. Closing Pine at the park would make it more of a park and discourage car usage there. Then we could do some really creative street treatments.

    Take a look at what NYC has done with Times Square and think boldly. Half solutions won’t cut it.

    1. You mean where NYC has rechanneled through-traffic pathways but has absolutely, unequivocally not made the mistake of interrupting transit corridors (Vancouver) or closing off/desolatizing entire blocks in areas of only moderate pedestrian appeal (every failed American example of the 1970s, including Seattle)?

  12. My wife and I went to Ballard last night for the first time in about two years. Yeah, we had to drive since we don’t live near the bus routes anymore. Parking was atrocious but what really irked me was that Ballard Avenue had such narrow sidewalks that it was difficult to walk with so many people also on the sidewalk. I really would love if the sidewalks were much wider–take out a lane of parking!–and more pleasant to walk on. There’s a lot of land available to make the area much more pedestrian-friendly. All that aside, taking out a lane of parking would not be so difficult since there is land at the southern end of Ballard Avenue that could be used as a parking garage with retail on top(or bottom with the retail on top). And for people who would complain about parking so far away from their destination, I saw a lot of people wasting time, idling their cars, hoping for a parking spot that would probably never come. And since so many people were walking, that means even they had to park a distance away from their destination.

    Of course, none of this would really matter if the bus/rail connections to Ballard were much better than they currently are. Since it would’ve cost my wife and me about $10 round trip to take the bus, we would gladly pay less than that for a parking spot. But, if it is going to cost $10 for transit, then it should be much better than it is.

    1. I just realized something. Whenever people suggest removing parking spaces, it’s never right in front of their house or on their block, it’s always miles away in someone else’s neighborhood.

      1. Nope, there’re a few comments I remember on this blog (though I can’t remember quite where at the moment to link them) saying otherwise. Or, I’m sure you could get d.p. to make some more right here.

        Hey, if someone wanted to rebuild my Bellevue apartment complex with more apartments and fewer parking spaces, I wouldn’t object.

      2. I’d be happy to see on-street parking removed from everywhere in the city, period. City property can be used for much better purposes than for people to take up with parked cars.

        Unfortunately it doesn’t seem like that’s going to happen any time soon.

      3. Interestingly, at the Plan B county hearing, two or three people said, “Tax me more to preserve bus service!” These are the kind of people who would say, “Remove my street parking space to speed up the buses.”

    2. Sam, when I lived in upper Fremont, I would’ve loved to have all the parking taken away in my area so to have wider sidewalks. Wider sidewalks would mean more pedestrians, possibly more sidewalk cafes, and definitely safer areas. There’s no reason why the city should be subsidizing parking spaces–they should be subsidizing more transit!

  13. Frank, that pic was 500KB. A lot of wasted bandwidth for a basically low resolution, small to medium size picture. I know you have a life besides this website (I hope), but your future care would be appreciated.

  14. Heck, I liked the way the corridor looked back circa 1915-1920. Great signage and savor at those elegant street lights!

  15. I haven’t seen anything about bike lanes in the proposed diagrams. Pine St. especially. It should be 2-way for bikes, even if it’s one-way for cars.

  16. Anyone notice the tree branches sticking out under the ETB overhead wires?
    A couple of passes with chainsaws should fix that.

  17. Best parts of the plan are the Light Layer (events and better lighting) and sprucing up the alleyways.

    Great that they recognize pedestrians, then bikes, then transit, then freight, then private cars as the transportation priority heirarchy. They should get the obstacles out of the sidewalk right of way and avoid repeating this problem or exacerbating, provide safe and convenient separation of pedestrians and bikes from each other, and divert private vehicles from off at least one of the avenues.

  18. For an example of what not to do at a bus stop when rebuilding the street; look at Tacoma and their “bioswale” at the pair of stops at 11th and Pacific.

    1. What’s there and what’s wrong with it? Many of us live an hour or more from Tacoma and can’t go down and take a look right now.

      If by “bioswale” you mean a sidewalk garden like on Vine Street in Belltown, it serves to capture rainwater and release it slowly into the ground, to lessen our impermeable surfaces. And the plants create oxygen and address the human need for nature.

    2. I love the bioswales in downtown Tacoma. I wish Seattle would do something similar.

  19. The Market-to-Westlake bit is a near-travesty given the number of tourists who make that walk. Terrible representation of our fair city in terms of building fronts, plantings, and sidewalks. This type of improvement will be a huge upgrade in that regard.

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