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This is an open thread.

76 Replies to “News Roundup: Council Races”

  1. For that Atlanta Streetcar, obviously those things aren’t meant for the sort of people who can walk 2.5 miles in 35 mins, both ways. You’d think that everyone can do that, but lots of older people, little children, etc. can’t. Not to mention tubbos.

    1. 2.5miles in 35 mins is actually pretty good, particularly in an urban setting where peds have to wait at crosswalk signals. 35 mins isn’t bad at all.

      1. Not when that’s the best case scenario for the line. If you read the article, the author had a 60+ minute ride because *surprise* a passenger vehicle blocked the tracks for an extended period of time.

      2. Actually, the 316 was an hour late last week arriving University Station in the DSTT and that is only like, what, the third stop on the route? Pretty pathetic I’d say.

    2. If the whole loop is 2.7mi, her commute that can be helped by the streetcar is a lot less than that distance. I don’t know where Cabbagetown is, but Peachtree Center is about in the middle of the loop, about a mile from the farthest distant station.

      1. Peachtree seems to be Atlanta’s city symbol. Cabbagetown is no more unusual than Lemon Grove in San Dieg, or the -dales across the country, or Indian names here. An homage to what the tract subdivisions replaced.

      2. It’s an inner-city neighborhood, formerly a quasi-isolated cotton-mill company town, and before that an antebellum metal-rolling mill adjacent to the city’s first railroad that burned in the Civil War.

        The most likely explanations for the name obliquely refer to the Scots-Irish/Appalachian migrants who came to work in the cotton mill, and the purported choice of cheap food that they grew abundantly in their postage-stamp yards.

        So, literally nothing to do with “tract subdivisions” or the “-dales” across the country.

    3. Actually, that was a misquote of the article. It would have taken 35 min to walk and the average streetcar trip took 43 min.

    4. I frequently walk down Broadway during the afternoon peak faster than the 9X. I can’t imagine the First Hill Streetcar will do any better. Oddly enough, it seems that a lot of the problem is that people on James block the intersection while queuing for the freeway. It seems like an easy fix to get people to not block an intersection, isn’t it?

      1. Yes, the James St problem happens every day. I was driving south on Broadway last week at 4:30 and it took me 35 minutes to get from Broadway & Pike to Broadway & Boren. This made me wonder what the battery capacity of our new streetcars will be. Since this entire stretch is either uphill, or level, there is no opportunity to recharge the batteries through regenerative braking. Will the new streetcar’s batteries last for 35+ minutes of stop and go traffic, with heat or air conditioning running during the extremes of the year?

      2. Drivers blocking intersections all over town is a real problem. The law against it needs to be vigiourusly enforced by either cop or camera.

    5. Here’s an interesting contrast when it comes to streetcars:

      In examination of the issues it was found that Toronto’s antique streetcar methods actually produce lines that are faster than similar bus routes.

      The fact that somehow our “modern” streetcar lines produce very slow routes that can’t compete with buses indicate to me that our modern streetcar routes need to actually take more examples from cities that have been doing this for a very long time, and now how to make streetcars operate well. Modern cities seem to have forgotten how to do that.

      1. You have a good point. Some of the Toronto lines have dedicated portions, and they run in the middle of the street, rather than the outside lane, etc.

      2. They’re sort of comparing rotten apples to moldy oranges in some of the chronically congested parts of the center city. The point is that much of central Toronto’s transit is quite slow.

        That article is functionally about the (slight) advantage of in-lane stops, with or without appropriate platform islands, all else being equal. It isn’t really about streetcars at all.

      3. When the streetcars were built cars were either nonexistent or rare, and the streetcar was in the middle of the street and had the right of way. So it’s kind of going back to that to the extend feasable in our ubiquidous-car environment. Toronto doesn’t have signal pre-emption, at least on the Queen Street line; the streetcar stops at stoplights. But when it stops at a boarding stop, the cars have to stop too, and people walk across the outer lane to board the streetcar. San Francisco’s cable cars work the same way: they stop in the middle of the intersection to board, and the cars have to stop too until the cable car starts moving again.

      4. The article mentions the main advantage of the streetcars: capacity. That is it. There is nothing in there about how streetcars “spur development” or how people prefer riding them, or any of that nonsense. They are bigger, and that means you need fewer of them to serves a big population.

        By big I mean huge. Enormous. This is Toronto we’re talking about — an area with huge skyscrapers, many of which contain homes. Compared to other modes of transport, very few people in Toronto ride the streetcar, but they still serve a lot of people, because the city is so big. Toronto also has an excellent subway system, with two minute frequency during rush hour. You can easily get around downtown or just about anywhere via the subways.

        This means that if you are traveling a substantial distance (e. g. from one side of downtown to the other) then you will take the subway. But if you are just going a few blocks, then hopping on a bus or streetcar makes sense (once you get to the suburbs, you will take a bus). This is the big difference between our streetcars and their streetcars. No one in Toronto thinks the streetcars are essential. They could shut down tomorrow and it wouldn’t be that big of a deal. They don’t view the streetcars as the main way to get anywhere. That is what the subway is for. No one in Toronto would fail to put in an important subway station and then just say “don’t worry about it, you will have a streetcar”. Or, “Great news everybody, we will spend a huge amount of our budget delivering a new streetcar to connect our most populous neighborhood with downtown — that should really help our transit system!”

        The streetcar line is simply being built (like a lot of things) out of order. Build a really good light rail line. Build a couple gondolas (on areas where other forms of grade separation are really expensive). Run all the buses that you need to run, then, if those buses are really crowded in a particular area (like downtown) talk to me about adding a streetcar. We are nowhere near that point yet, which is why our streetcar is a waste of money.

        The other obvious difference is that Toronto built their streetcar system a long, long time ago. The debate there is whether to remove it. The debate here is whether to build a new one. We are more like Vancouver — an area without old streetcars. Vancouver, by the way, gave up on the idea (now they simply have much better transit than us)..

      5. Ross… I just had to dredge from the archives this batshit CityLab comment thread, in which some kid insisted that if Toronto’s mixed-traffic streetcars had ever been removed, “the roncesvalles victorians or ivy covered liberty village lofts…would probably be crack houses or demolished for IKEA parking or something.” He got seven upvotes.

        Read down the entire hilarious thread, and try not to get your shoes dirtied by his casual racism. One can never underestimate the idiocy of the internet.

      6. There are several advantages of streetcars over buses, but the line has to be designed to actually use those advantages. The current lines in the USA tend not to utilize any of those advantages. Even when it comes to capacity, the cars generally used really isn’t that great. Someone I have had some contact with in Germany asked me once “Why on earth would anyone buy such tiny tram cars for a new tram line” when he looked at the Portland Streetcar. Then, he looked at the average speed from one end to the other and had his question about that answered. There’s no way to attract actual ridership with those types of speeds.

        Some of the new build European lines (Strasbourg, for example) have figured out how to build lines that are reasonably competitive with driving (rather than walking).

        Sure, Strasbourg’s 25 miles of track has density going for it, but if density were the only driver then ridership on Portland Streetcar and SLUT would be much higher than what it is currently. Strasbourg has 300,000 daily riders, with an urban population of somewhere around 450,000 and metro population of 760,000.

        The question is: how do we get those who plan these things to see the error of their ways? One way tickets to France are pretty cheap right now. Maybe pay for our leaders to go there, and offer to pay for the return ticket when they have it figured out?

      7. Modern streetcar lines are designed to be local circulators, not fast travel between Point A and Point B. Certainly the case in Seattle and Portland (tho I haven’t yet ridden the new Portland track east of the river).

      8. The streetcars in Toronto are essential for downtown transit because they basically are the inner city transit system. Most cities replaced their streetcars with buses, or ETBs as in Vancouver and Seattle, but Toronto never replaced much of its streetcar network. The APTA stats show 290,000 weekday boardings. The subway has around a million weekday boardings, so the streetcars are not jokes.

        The streetcar network could use a bunch of improvements though. More exclusive lanes and signal coordination. A new fleet of much larger low floor cars is just being introduced now because the older cars were basically clapped out and completely packed at rush hour. The new cars are 100′ long, have five sections, four articulations, four sets of double doors, on board ticket vending machines as well as presto card readers (aka orca), and the TTC is ordering 200 of them. Again, no joke.

        That said, nothing about that indicates any magic to rails. The same thing could be done with 100′ multiple articulation buses.

      9. Portland has something like what you say Strasbourg has. It’s called MAX. Although it doesn’t go underground in the city center like many similar German lines do.

      10. Hard to quantify, but I think that after streetcars have been around for awhile, the city, its people, and its laws start to notice that these cars are an excellent mode of transportation but, because they can’t steer around obstacles, they need more and more reserved lanes.

        But more important, just general priority and respect. Most streetcar-equipped cities overseas have ordinances stating that if you get hit by a streetcar, car or not, it’s your fault.

        Though in such places, where people literally grow up with streetcars, they develop a habit of expecting them wherever there’s grooved rail and catenary.
        A tap on the bell is usually max warning needed. Usually pedestrians just move aside the right distance without looking up.

        Again hard to predict with figures, but there’s another urban calculation in favor of rail vehicles over buses: since a bus can move aside- the heavier the traffic and the more need for parking and loading, the more they have to.


      11. Portland has something like what you say Strasbourg has. It’s called MAX.

        Sadly, MAX lacks traffic light preemption in the downtown core due to a “need” to maintain the one way street grid traffic light synchronization. Sometimes the MAX drivers are able to hit the lights just right to make it seem like they have signal priority and sometimes not.

        Strasbourg seems to have figured out that true signal priority and increased speeds attracts far more riders.

    1. While they’re still doing redesigns they couldn’t come up with a better bus/rail integration at UW Station? What a waste. It’s like they’re trying to suck.

      1. The problem is that:
        1) The UW, which owns all the land around the station, is a public institution, and, therefore, exempt from eminent domain. Which means that Sound Transit cannot build a transit center next to the station without UW consent.

        2) While the UW certainly cares about students taking the train to class and Husky fans taking the train to games (which is why they consented to allowing a station to be built on their property in the first place), they don’t care about bus/rail connections because the people who would be making such connections are not affiliated with the university in any way; they would just be ordinary commuters passing through it to get beween home and downtown. By contrast, the UW cares very much about the premium parking spaces next to the football stadium that would have to be sacrificed to make room for a decent transit center.

        3) Since Sound Transit desperately needed a station at the UW in order for the line to be successful, the UW, not Sound Transit, had all the leverage in the negotiations. And so, we get what we get.

    2. I was surprised to see the Times article mention the second drawbridge. I can’t find reference to it in the WSDOT plans. If I remember right, earlier studies for it suggested that it wouldn’t happen. I think the Montlake folks assume it won’t happen.

      There are a couple areas where the bridge could be built. One is right next to the existing bridge. That would mean widening Montlake Boulevard. I suppose you could shuffle the lanes a bit and add new bike lanes and HOV only lanes from Pacific to E Lake Washington Boulevard. This would mean having a bus only lane from the stadium to 520 (both directions). I’m not sure exactly how to do that, or if it is even possible, but my guess is the locals would hate it. It would make that road really wide.

      The other alternative would be to cross a little further east. You could connect to East Park Drive and cross over into the UW area. A bus only connection could be made from 24th onto East Park Drive (or 24th could be extended right next to East Park Drive and over the canal). This would also receive local opposition, as it would mean cutting down a bunch of trees and putting a bridge over (or through) a nice little park (which connects to the arboretum). Given the choice, I prefer that route, though. It would avoid all the other congestion on Montlake, and ultimately be a lot more pleasant for the area. Of course neighbors wouldn’t like the idea of lots of buses going by what has been a very quiet street for many years. You would have to convince folks that the buses, once they leave the freeway, would travel very slowly (20 MPH) through the neighborhood and across the bridge. That would still be fantastic from a transit standpoint, since we are talking about very short stretch here (less than half a mile) and 20 MPH is much faster than walking. Biking would also be much better through here (as opposed to Montlake Bridge).

      Personally, I think the cheapest and best solution would be to simply route all the 520 buses to this station. Once you do that, the need for additional pedestrian capacity goes away. From 520, the buses could take their own exit (WSDOT plans currently call for two exit lanes) and then head over to the stadium. This is pretty short, and I assume not very congested (the congestion starts before or at the merge point between 520 and Montlake Boulevard). Going the other direction, a bus takes a left turn out of the stadium parking lot (with a light). Then it encounters major congestion. Solving that problem (without building a new bridge) would be difficult, but not impossible.

      1. there are three options for the second montlake cut bridge.

        A is “second bascule bridge for general purpose traffic, transit, pedestrians and bicycles”

        B is in same spot at where A needs to be.
        B & C are bike/ped only.

        There are no details beyond text, and not even a detailed map.

        I don’t see a useful bus/bike/ped bridge anywhere near where the HOV lanes will let out.

      2. I still think that, given our budget climate, the most likely outcome is no second drawbridge at all. And, I don’t think that’s an entirely bad option either.

        Even if traffic on the bridge is slow, it’s not a standstill, and it’s short enough that the bridge itself never takes more than half a minute to cross. The time sink is sitting in the line of cars on Montlake (going south) and on the exit ramp (going north) leading up to the bridge. It is the approach paths, not the bridge itself, where transit priority is most sorely needed.

  2. Anyone have an idea where the various announced city council candidates are on transit and land use?

    1. It’s a little early for candidates to be out there on too many controversial issues, but I would say that District 4 will be really interesting. Michael Maddux and Rob Johnson (formerly of TCC) are running against Jean Godden and are both saying lots of green-sounding/urbanist/pro-transit things.

      Otherwise for the most part I’ve been fairly underwhelmed by the challengers running against incumbents with only fair-to-poor records on land use. Tammy Morales in District 2 may show promise; I just don’t know enough about her yet. She’s raised quite a bit of money though for a challenger this early in the race.

    2. Rob Johnson – running in District 4 – is the Executive Director of the Transportation Choices Coalition and a big transit advocate.

      1. It should be interesting to see how this one plays out, given the quantity of entrenched White People Bungalow Land located within the 4th district.

        The 6th district appears to have been meticulously Gerrymandered to pit Licata and O’Brien against one another, or to force one of them into retirement. Curiously, though both are identified as among the Council’s most “progressive” members, they have quite different records on land use (O’Brien is better) and transit (both are mixed bags).

        O’Brien sticking around is probably the best outcome for the district’s transit interests, since he sits on the ST board, though I do wish he seemed to have a better grasp of the details of good, non-symbolic urban transit.

        On the other hand, I can’t begin to imagine what kind of crazy the 6th district is about to throw at us. At least Licata was a known quantity.

      2. They’re like The Stranger editorial board. They’re liberal and progressive, but they’re more dedicated to low-income housing and limiting density and developer’s fees than they are to transit.

  3. The woonerf fad will hopefully fade away soon. The places where those things work (low traffic back streets, suburban neighborhood streets) don’t need them. Putting them on higher volume street is just paradoxical. Traffic calming through diffusion and confusion. Safer? Road diets and proper separation of road users are way better. Aesthetically, they’re also a miss. Flattening the street doesn’t generate urbanism.

    1. I tend to agree with you that forced or sterile or badly-designed or just plain misplaced woonerfing (see Bell Street for the latter two) tends to be a symptom of civic boosters putting carts before horses, misunderstanding what makes urbanity thrive, and generally missing the point.

      But the mixed-used jumbles and “flattened streets” at the root of the concept can most certainly be one expression of thriving urbanism. You need look no further than Pike Place to see this in action.

      1. I don’t agree that the Bell St woonerf is misplaced. At least, it won’t be once it’s extended to connect the Bell St pier to SLU. I wonder how long that will take. This city seems to love doing everything piecemeal one tiny bit at a time.

      2. Then you’ve never tried to ride a bus through it at 5:15 pm.

        Or tried to enjoy it recreationally when it’s 3rd and 4th block choke up with a cavalcade of stuck, frustrated, 60-foot diesel behemoths, for that matter.

        The Bell Street project was misplaced.

      3. Bell Street is no woonerf. I got a note today from Seattle Police Department that they will enforce jaywalking laws along Bell Street. To cross from one side of this “park” to the other, the only lawful way is to walk to an intersection and wait for the WALK light.

    2. The main thing is to ensure that woonerfs are true mixed-use car-and-pedestrian streets, wherever they are located, and only streets appropriate to that and with neighbors willing to let it be that should have them. We don’t want any more woonerfs like Bell Street that get watered down to a prominent car lane and wide sidewalk; that just dilutes the concept to nothing, like calling RapidRide “BRT”. When it gets to the point that people say they “don’t want BRT” because they think it’ll be a nothing improvement — and then demand a streetcar instead à la First Hill — then it has gone too far, and the loss is real BRT and woonerfs. Projects like Bell Street may be worthwhile in other places but they need to be separate from “woonerfs”. Otherwise the general public believes that’s all a woonerf is and all it can be and all that’s possible.

      1. I agree. I think terminology matters. Although I don’t think anyone demands a streetcar. They demand “light rail” because, for all its flaws, we haven’t polluted the term too much around here. People assume light rail is grade separated (or at least very close to it) and thus fast and reliable. BRT can be as well, but we have a big uphill climb convincing people that, based on what we’ve given them so far.

      2. I certainly agree with you on this. To be honest, I don’t see what the point of a Woonerf is or what it’s supposed to be. Maybe they’re actually great when they’re implemented properly, but I be hesitant to keep building them based on what I’ve seen so far.

        And it just seems ludicrous that anyone would think to combine a “rapid transit” route on a “woonerf.” Come on, you can’t seriously expect decent transit times if fast buses have to slow waaaay down for a single lane, mixed use woonerf. If they really needed the woonerf on Bell st, they should have moved the D line off of it.

      3. You also don’t get fast, logical, legible transit by detouring it five blocks out of the way.

        Anyone who thinks Vancouver’s transit mindset is without flaw should spend a few minutes reading up on that city’s Robson Plaza forehead-slapper.

      4. ‘Ren’, the D isn’t on Bell, but the 26/131, 28/132, and 40 are all-day, and they’re joined in peak by the 55, 111, 114, 116, 118, 119, some 121 and 122 trips, and the 143. 58 buses pass through Bell Street Park between 4-6pm every weekday. As much as I love transit, a blast of 90db diesel every 2 minutes means that it’s neither a park nor a woonerf during peak. It’s a strange, noisy, beautified one-lane arterial.

      5. The point of a woonerf is to restore a street to pedestrian scale. Cars and pedestrians have equal right of way, so cars show down to pedestrian speed and have to tolerate people walking in front of them. People walk out their door and cross the street, or walk along the street, or children play, while an occasional car comes comes home or visits something. Obviously this is not a way to drive more than a couple blocks, so there has to be another automobile street elsewhere.

  4. The whole transit referendum was a stupid election promise by Liberals, who do not understand that public transportation is an important investment that shouldn’t be voted on by voters.

    I think Provincial government and Mayors council should have plan B because people hate TransLink after the 2007 change in how it is Govern by the Liberals made it happen. The plan B should to change how TransLink is Govern by making the mayors council choose a least 75% of the board of directors so their least some accountability. I believe this needs to happen even if the referendum passes.

    1. This is one of the worst results of people on either side of the political aisle never being voted out of office: they soon become the party of the Unremovably Comfortable.

      And the smarter, better educated, and less-alcoholic they are, the harder it is to unseat them. Inevitably causing the majority of the people quit believing in elections. Which, since majorities win elections, could actually solve the problem.

      There’s a coffee-table book about the founding of MUNI in San Francisco called “The People’s Railway”- from the time that illustrates eventual expensive and embarrassing result of privatization- public entities having to buy back, at losing prices, what they should never have sold in the first place.

      Small point, Zach, but something to keep in mind when trying to win an election: “The People’s Railway” carries a lot more public resonance than LINK.

      Especially in a health conscious region where “KALE” strikes deeper chords of appetite. Bad enough that some cars now actually look like giant ham and cheese sandwiches.

      Which keep public weight down by ruining appetites along the whole route, but cause vultures to interfere with traction power by roosting on the catenary.


    2. If public transit is too important to be voted on by voters, why the suggestion of more elected positions on the Translink Board? There is nothing wrong with Translink governance that more voting would solve.

      The transit referendum is a foolish idea, an off-the-cuff comment from Clark who is still running scared after the HST freakout. They ought to have found a way to gracefully back-pedal after the election – maybe turn it into an advisory vote on road tolls – but we are stuck with this thing now.

      But the Plan B fear is misplaced. The current Plan A is hardly a plan at all. Just a cobbled together compromise (from a bunch of accountable elected officials). It at least three big holes that will have dealt with even if it is approved.

      1. The Surrey LRT plan is simply silly. A billion dollars more than identical BRT and even more expensive than Skytrain when op costs and revenues are considered. The cost/benefit is deep in the red when the cost/benefits of Skytrain and BRT are both positive. Even if the mayor’s plan is approved, this turkey will need a plan B.

      2. The Broadway Subway shouldn’t end at Arbutus. That just isn’t a natural terminus. Also, the cost projections are very high making me think that the bored tunnel is adding a lot of cost to this. If it is going to be buried under 10th in any case, it ought to be cut and cover so that funds can be found to bring this to Macdonald or even Alma – a much more natural terminus.

      3. The proposed four lane Pattullo just replaces one nasty four lane bridge with another nasty four lane bridge except the new one won’t fall down in an earthquake. If the new one is not to be tolled, then traffic will continue to divert to it and jam it up. Keeping it nasty. Making the thing six lanes from the get go but tolling it to even out the traffic between all the Fraser crossings makes much more sense. And there is still no plan to get rid of some of the wasteful ramps on the New West side. If New West wants less traffic from the Pattullo, then there is no need for those ramps and more area that could be added to the park and developed.

      So even whether this passes or fails, the next step in both situations is going to be working on plan B.

  5. 1. Even with reserved lanes and signal-preempt, streetcars are most comfortable form of local transit- giving bullet train speeds problem with multiple stops.

    Interesting case, though. The Philadelphia to Norristown high speed line, which dates from the 1930’s, perfected railcars that can accelerate and decelerate fast enough to rapidly serve 22 stations in 13.4 miles. Some undercuts on MLK…nobody would either lose neighborhood transportation or miss a plane!

    2. Any Trekkie knows that Leonard Nimoy and everybody else from Vulcan will upon landing and logically seizing a prosperous planet whose executive class already looks like space aliens, will
    always build a monument honor their legendary hero Woonerf… abbreviated over time and an unfortunate Earth accent to Worff. It’s only logical.

    3. Comedian Jeff Foxworthy holds that “You may be a (perjorative slang term for a poor farmer whose light Scots-Irish skin above his shirt collar burned terribly while hoeing cotton all day in Alabama)(making him hate everybody on earth) if: you ever knew anybody who’s last words were…

    Tempting, but nobody who’s ever looked through the windshield of a large fast moving transit machine can laugh at this one.


  6. I read the Spring District article, and there was some dude on there saying something like the only thing that’s missing is a bunch of low-income housing. Good! Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t more crime happen in low-income neighborhoods, and neighborhoods that don’t have low-income housing tend to have a lower crime rate? And if that’s true, then why knowingly invite more crime into a neighborhood?

    1. Tell that to people in Bellevue who have their houses and cars robbed at Christmastime, or areas like well-off Greenlake or Greenwood that have a high crime rate but not much low-income housing. The thieves aren’t stupid; they know which neighborhoods have money and high-value posessions and they target those. Some thieves target low-income neighborhoods because they’re an easy target near they’re own home, but many thieves target middle-class neighborhoods because that’s where the loot is.

      Haven’t heard from you for a while; I was wondering if you were banned or on vacation.

    2. Not exactly, Sam. Nobody actually knows how much extremely dangerous crime there is in, say, the neighborhood where Pablo Escobar used to live- except their colleagues who don’t generally use lawyers to settle business disputes. And have much heavier caliber firepower than the average poor criminal.

      And also: by your formula, wouldn’t it also follow that if you add more decent housing, along with wages to afford the houses, crime would go down? Especially since even well-paid working people don’t generally have disposable income for rocket -propelled grenades.

      But for at least one other comment above, the idea that low income housing and transit are conflicting interests really doesn’t make sense. But my answer on low-income anything is always the same: way to eliminate low-income and subprime anything is to start employing people at decent wages.

      Huge deficit problem a lot deadlier than the National one has same easy solution, too: after forty years, start paying people the money they’ve earned but are presently loaned at interest.

      Which, Sam, will at one stroke eliminate both low income housing and the crime associated with it. Leaving the authorities free to concentrate on the high income crime which could justify all the stuff the Army gave them.

      Incidentally, have been wondering lately: which makes a soldier or policeman a more visible target in a fire-fight: desert “camo” or a black uniform? Though camouflage patterned to look like the Tesla dealer windows and boutiques would definitely work for South Lake Union.


  7. Has anyone read Cliff Mass’ latest blog posting?

    I think he has some valid points. I am anxious to see dp’s comments…I know dp is a big fan of Dr. Mass…

      1. He’s referring to a long and broad slate of political-policy recommendations that Mass posted recently, for the sake of “addressing” climate change.

        You will find plenty to agree with and more than a few nits to pick, but my first-flush impression is that it reads like the table of contents of a political platform… with none of the content pages present because the author decided details were beneath him.

        There’s no doubt that Cliff Mass is intensely knowledgeable about the micro-workings of our regional weather patterns. There is equally little doubt, unfortunately, that he has lately taken to exploiting his local celebrity to claim the authority to speak (and to influence public opinion) on a bunch of non-weather-related topics.

        In these capacities he frequently reveals himself to be a moron with an allergy to performing the slightest modicum of research. Forget the kind of exhaustive due diligence that one might reasonably expect of a scientist and self-stylized public intellectual — he barely bothers to Google a topic before spouting off!

        – To wit, he has talked trash about North Seattle road diets that have in fact achieved their stated objectives quite admirably, and he has blamed them for congestion at points where the number of lanes has not been reduced at all.

        – He has deemed bike-share systems inherently useless because they aren’t designed for taking 6-hour joyrides around Lake Washington. Pronto has not been without its poor implementation choices, but here Mass reveals his most Seattleish of tendencies: forming and holding and doubling down on an opinion that is willfully ignorant of how a well-established worldwide model like bike-share is supposed to work, and what it is supposed to do.

        – Bike helmets. Oh, god, the bike helmets. Is there something in Seattle’s water supply that prevents local lifers from reexamining the received wisdom handed down from a fatally flawed 1980s micro-study? Seattle helmet dogmatists are starting to look as reality-phobic as climate change deniers!

        Anyway, I won’t address all of the line items on Mass’s climate change “plan”, because specifics are so scant and some sections are laughably irrelevant. But I will point out that he considers more North Sounder runs, a Link Duwamish bypass, an Eastside Rail Corridor nowhere-to-nowhere commuter train, a whole mess of peak-hour-only transit, and “rail service to Stevens Pass skiing” to be virtually essential if we wish to keep our planet inhabitable.

        For some unidentifiable set of “reasons”.

        And then there’s this:

        So if I was Governor…

        Even if he were to use the subjunctive correctly, this prospect would still keep me up at night.

      1. If Prof. Mass were actually reading this blog (and I wish he were), he’d hopefully be a lot less likely to come up with those completely inappropriate ideas about local transit and reality. Almost all the things he mentioned have been debunked here for sound and logical reasons.

        Would I like to easily travel to the ski areas/ocean/Lake Chelan/whatever without driving? Sure–but such things are so far down the list of transportation priorities as to make them not even worth mentioning. My dad loved riding the old Milwaukee line up to Snoqualmie to ski, but that was in a much different time with an already-operating passenger rail line going directly there anyway. Until somebody plops down a trillion dollars for non-road-based transportation in this state, even talking about such things borders on the ludicrous. It’s too bad, because for local weather discussions his blog is a go-to of mine, and the local media pays attention to it.

      2. But he does seem to frequent the Seattle Bike Blog, where I was among those who directly challenged his flagrant opining-from-ignorance on the topic of bikeshare.

        Perhaps my new personal STB troll has followed me over from there.

    1. No d.p….just a little princess who gets off on your F-Bombs. Nothing more, nothing less…

  8. Open request: Is data available somewhere detailing the mean and standard deviation employees in various occupations, or stratified by income levels, start work?

  9. Wouldn’t waste too much time ragging on Cliff. A lot of it is probably just revenge for life of a weather forecaster in a region where all of Natures forces make the very concept like a square circle.

    Like the “Almost Live” sketch where the poor weatherman finally cracks over a lifetime of humiliation, and starts unpeeling chart after chart showing how tomorrow’s weather will include A SOLAR TORNADO- a snarling little sun dropping both snowflakes and flames.

    But how big a waiting room would Dr. Oz really need if he was, say, into eye, ear, nose, and throat? It’s just like wrestling, football, baseball, soccer, NASCAR, Kim Kardashian, politics, both houses of Congress, the Executive Branch and the courts.

    And Oprah. And ISIS. Maybe it’s age, but I still like “Show Biz” better than “Entertainment.”


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