SDOT Photo
SDOT Photo

This is an open thread.

93 Replies to “News Roundup: Test Run”

  1. I noticed this that the all four pedestrian signals at the intersection of 34th and Fremont are now fully actuated, something that happened likely Wednesday with no warning. This continues a trend that’s been happening at signalized intersections for at least 5 years.

    Not sure how this fits into Murray’s Vision Zero, but it seems pretty contrary.

    1. ugh, I really hope they are only for ADA purposes and you don’t actually have to hit them to make the walk signal go, because that would be ridiculous, and actually unsafe, because people will just walk with the car’s green if they don’t get there in time to push the ridiculous button. And Fremont has high enough ped volumes that it’s ridiculous to need a push button to activate the walk.

    2. Broadway and John got these as well, and I was befuddled. I thought those buttons were for lightly used ped crossings. But maybe not.

    3. And then there’s the lights that have pedestrian buttons for the non-dominant direction only. But the dominant pedestrian signal will countdown and turn red in anticipation of a car coming in the non-dominant direction. Even if no car comes, the pedestrian signal stays red for about 10-15 seconds before turning green again. Your only recourse is to wait or cross (technically illegal).

      NW 46th St and 11th Ave NW in Ballard is a good example.

  2. Well, they’re telling you now. And again. And again. And again. And again….

  3. 1) I attended the 36th dems meeting last night. It was surprisingly exciting because John Grant (anti density) and Tim Burgess (pro SFH to a large degree) failed to gain the nomination after a hilarious speech by John Rodrick, the candidate yall should vote for. There was a total consensus that transit should improve, but also a consensus that density is bad and height is bad etc. We need more STB members to go to meetings like this before the primary and election because this is the best time ever to get good policies and politicians in the city.

    2) on the way home on the E bus, there was a beggar on the bus asking the riders for change. I ended up not letting the bus driver know, but I slightly regret it because I want our buses to be a place to ride and not necessarily get hassled (albeit incredibly minorly). What do you do on that situation?

    1. If getting asked once for spare change is the only nuisance I encounter on a bus ride, I consider it a good ride. He wasn’t screaming at people, blaring his music, yelling into his cell phone, holding everyone up by putting in some change in the farebox and then asking everyone else on the bus for help before getting a transfer and jumping off the bus, hitting on anyone, wielding any weapons, defacing the seats, or leaving pieces of his lunch behind.

      1. Nor was he droning “There is a bus … approaching … and turning … right.” at every corner.

      2. All of which could conceivably occur on the E. I can’t walk 2 blocks downtown without someone hitting me up for change, I don’t want it on the bus.

    2. Oh, and I can understand why Ballardites are getting weary of urbanization. It is supposed to come with improved transit. Ballard has earned high-capacity grade-separated transit much more than Everett or Paine Field (where drivers will continue to choose driving over taking the train, so long as parking at their specific work site, which may be a long distance from the train station, is plentiful).

      1. I remember at a Ballard meeting on apodments, I asked the DPD guy if they coordinated with SDOT. When he said that they did not, I stated that I am somewhat supportive/agnostic on apodments, but if Ballard doesn’t get more transit, people like me would joint the pitchfork and torches crowd. The ST3 final offerings could be decisive for a bunch of folks (especially if it si the Option C streetcar down Leary)– I just wonder if they will take it out on the mayor, city council, etc.

      2. The majority of opposition is the same old NIMBYs. If people are primarily concerned about broken transit promises, they would likely push for better transit now rather than blocking development. Apodments in particular are more of a “preserving the neighborhood character” issue than a “not without HCT” issue.

      3. @Mike We’ve been pushing for better transit for 10+ years instead of blocking development. How much longer should we grin and bear it?

      4. But are people like you a majority of the opposition or an increasing percentage of it? The alternative to growth is even-faster increasing housing prices and people having to move to further-out places.

      5. That’s happening now in Ballard. There’s buildings go up everywhere and yet prices are going up faster than the buildings and people are having to move to further-out places.

        To answer your first question: I’m part of a vastly increasing percentage of people who were and still barely are pro-density (except apodments of course), but are getting tired of being told that “development is for the greater good” and that “good transit always follows development”. Well, the “greater good” can sod off until I get my damn mass transit.

      6. While folks complain mainly about the parking issues of increased density, transit insufficency is rising as a secondary refrain.

    3. I asked my [mostly very suburban and sheltered] third grade daughter who rides the E (together with my sixth grader) every Monday to get to her accordion lesson what she thinks of the bus, and what they should do to improve it. She says that occasionally some of the people on board are a little scary [she travels in the evening peak] , but that overall everything is okay except for all the smoking at the bus stop downtown.

  4. “What would it take to get you out of your car?” I feel like Crosscut is asking the wrong question entirely. Giving up the car for the commute is the easy part. Giving up your car entirely is much, much harder.

    Cars are still really useful in Seattle. I don’t see that changing soon unless car ownership gets extremely expensive (licenses, insurance, sticker prices), car usage gets extremely expensive (gas, parking, tolls, congestion charges), or using your car becomes impossible (citywide parking ban, “Denny at rush hour” becomes traffic on every street, etc.).

    1. We need to continue the transition for a car being a product to a service. The cost of buying, insuring, and maintaining a car is enough to pay for a surprisingly large number of rides on Uber, Lyft, Car2Go, or rental cars.

      Currently, the big limitation of these services is the price of day-trips out of town, and the all-inclusive model really stings you for trips like Seattle->Snoqualmie Pass and back that take a good half-day, but don’t really involve all that many miles. If somebody could figure out a way to get price down to around $50/day, grand total, for trips up to 100 miles, now renting starts to become a more feasible option for people that like to get out of down on weekends frequently.

      It would also be nice if Zipcar would stop putting their logo on every car they rent. It would be nice to be able to take one somewhere without needing to explain to everyone around you why you were willing to plop down $95 for the trip.

      Of course, the 17% car rental tax, which is based off of a price that includes gas an insurance (products which are normally not subject to sales tax) is not exactly helping things.

      1. The rental car tax is really unhelpful. So is the inability to buy “non-owner” car insurance from most insurers if you want to rent a car from Hertz etc.

        Cars are expensive to buy, but cheap to use in most situations. All of the alternatives we have today are cheap to buy ($0 for some) but are expensive to use, either in terms of money (rental car, Uber, etc.) or time (transit, walking, biking).

        It is the expensive to use part that is difficult. It puts a high price on activity. Want to meet a friend for coffee? That’s maybe $50 (using Uber) or an extra 90 minutes (using transit) to meet a friend for 1 hour. Now visiting doesn’t seem worthwhile. But, if you have a car, you spend maybe $5 worth of gas and wear and tear and it doesn’t seem so expensive.

      2. Sure, Zipcar and C2G are options, although they’d still cost ~$20 perhaps. But there is a risk that there will be no cars because Zipcars are all reserved or there’s no C2G nearby.

        Getting stuck at your destination with no Car2Go has to be annoying.

      3. Yes, but it isn’t just the five bucks in gas. It’s the portion of that month’s insurance bill that should be apportioned to that trip. It’s the opportunity cost of the capital tied up in owning a car (or, alternately, the cost of interest if you’re paying off a loan). It’s the several hundred dollars a month in depreciation as your car gets worth less and less. It’s the maintenance. It’s the parking. If the choice is between owning a car and not using, and owning a car and using it, then yes, your math works out. But, if the choice is between owning the car and taking 8 or 10 car share trips per month, the math just might work the other way.

      4. There are two separate questions: one is what does a car cost to own? Whether people make rational decisions here is an interesting question. My guess is that, for most suburbanites it is [cost of bus pass + cost of rental cars when transit won’t work + value of the extra time they have to spend getting places + missing value of being able to leave right now at 3am + savings on vacations.

        The other is, given that I already own a car, and have decided that I need one, what is the marginal cost of a journey? Most of the major variables — depreciation. insurance, even the vast majority of maintenance — are for a pretty broad range of annual mileage [~7500 miles to ~15000] — essentially a fixed amount per year. The only real exceptions are parking at your destination, gas and tire wear, so it’s perfectly reasonable for people who already own a car to make decisions about whether to use it based on the cost of gas plus the cost of parking at the destination.

      5. If you’re traveling to the burbs, there’s also the issue of whether you can even trust Uber for a ride back. I’ve had a few times where I was going out to some friends in Lynnwood. Straight shot on the 512 to get there, but no bus that runs late enough to get back. In theory, the 512 out and Uber back should run about $30-35 (plus to the potential to find a ride home with somebody if you get lucky and pay $0). Not too bad, except that at 1 o’clock in the morning, Uber out in Lynnwood is hit or miss – it’s a coin flip whether there will be a driver available or not. It is possible to avoid the risk of getting stuck by taking an hourly Zipcar, but now the price jumps from $30-35 to $60-70 after taxes, and you have to pay close attention to clock to avoid getting slapped with late fees. Or, you can take a 24-hour rental on Zipcar or Car2Go to avoid the stress factor, but now the bill jumps again to nearly around $95 for the night after tax.

        As ugly as it is, more often then not I’ve ended up just paying the $95 for the 24-hour rental and finding something else to do with the car either earlier that day, or the next day.

      6. I have car2go and Zipcar and don’t own a car. However, just booked a traditional car rental for two days this weekend through Hotwire, it was $8.99/day, to go explore Eastern Washington. With taxes and fees it will be a total of $38 for two days. Great price but look how much the taxes and fees are (granted some are for Hotwire). A lot of those are airport fees for the airport that I’m not flying in or out of.

        As a non-owner I pay like $500!!!!! :-( a year for non-owner insurance through USAA for the very very few times I actually rent a car.

      7. Why do you pay $500 for rental car insurance? Isn’t it like $15/day when you get it direct from the rental car company? If you use a rental car every week I guess it makes sense, but otherwise it’s probably cheaper just to get it when you need it.

      8. I agree with William. Once you own a car (for whatever reason) it just becomes fairly cheap to use it. I know I’m that way. I own a car because I like to hike (a lot). But now that I have it, I’ll use it for a lot of regular trips. I try and reduce my driving, but it is often ridiculously convenient compared to our transit system. This is where I disagree with Mars (below). There is no way I would drive downtown, even if I could park for free. It is one of the few places where transit is very competitive with driving (especially if you are going with the flow). For example, I can ride a bus from Northgate and be downtown very quickly in the morning — faster than I would if I drove (because it uses the HOV lanes). Even if it is close, I’ll ride the bus. But if it costs me a huge amount of time (and is infrequent) than I’ll drive. My guess is the vast majority of drivers are in the same boat — if Metro was faster and more frequent (which go together) they would ride it more.

        I think renting cars or calling cabs misses the point. People in New York have used (far more affordable) cabs for a very long time (at very high numbers). But everyone who considers going to New York realizes that they really don’t need a car, or even need to catch a cab. They might catch one if they are in a hurry, or going to a more obscure place, but for many, it is luxury they can do without.

        Obviously it is a very subjective, but I think most of Seattle is not at that level. I’ve talked to folks who can essentially work anywhere, and they said all the cities they consider moving to (New York, Chicago, San Fransisco) have the same thing in common — you don’t need a car to get around. I asked if they considered Seattle and they said no — for that reason. Obviously there are people here who do just fine without a car, but there are plenty of people who consider it a necessity, because it just takes too long to make regular trips without one.

        It is hard to say when that “magic point” will be reached. I think Vancouver, for example, is already there. Things will get a lot better once Link gets up to Northgate. Ballard to UW light rail would also be huge. Some good complimentary bus service (including hopefully another bus tunnel) along with a “Metro 8” subway and I think Seattle would be at that point for sure. It might even be there with just Northgate Link, Ballard light rail and good bus service — at least for the majority of people in the city.

    2. Giving up the car for the commute may be the easy part, but I’d start driving to work again tomorrow if it weren’t for the exorbitant cost of downtown parking – and even that is only just barely high enough to keep me using public transit, since the bus commute sucks as much as it ever has.

      I don’t understand why Seattle has so little ambition when it comes to transit. A good transit system can *improve* quality of life over use of cars, but it seems like people here are content to putter around with a bunch of crappy buses and expect people to put up with them out of some neo-Puritan sense of environmental responsibility. Why there is no plan for a citywide subway, and no hope of building one for at least forty years even if we got the ball rolling already, I cannot understand. How is it not obvious that this is necessary?

      At any rate, I did my car-free year a while back and it sucked. Not trying that again until we have a decent transit network.

      1. “Why there is no plan for a citywide subway…”

        or anything else? (for the road-o-philes, either?)

        Because the dirty little secret for the Pacific Northwest is that the citizens are cheap.

        Everyone knows the cost of everything, but the value of nothing.

      2. “Why is there no plan for a citywide subway?”

        Because voters rejected one back in 1969 and 1970, when it was cheap to build, and now infrastructure is so insanely expensive for a variety of reasons that there is no credible way to build a citywide subway using any amount of tax authority that voters in any local electorate will approve.

      3. A lot of the highway shortcomings, such as the I-405/SR-167 interchange, and the left-hand entrance ramps in downtown Seattle are a result of taking the low-cost option.

        People back then knew how to build better interchanges, they just opted for the low-cost approach.

        The only reason it was cheaper for Puget Sounders back then was because the Feds were picking up most of the tab. Scoop and Warren.

        Now that locals are being asked to fork over the money, they are getting to see how much this all really costs.

      4. Another dirty secret in the Pacific Northwest is that Seattle isn’t “Progressive” as the PR says it is (a good argument can be made for centrist), otherwise, the subway would have been dealt with and built—as far back as the 90’s. Many natives fear change in their town. They don’t want it to become NYC, Philly, or Chicago w/ noisy dirty subways running above or below them. They want to keep the city modest and quaint in terms of urban development even if the half measures to maintain the previous quality of life aren’t working anymore.

  5. I heard my first talking bus the other day — they are loud, obnoxious, and they seam to broadcast their sound omni-directionally, even though the treat is to just one side of the bus at a time.

    Pretty stupid I’d say…..

    1. I’m not clear what problem this is trying to solve. Somehow we’ve been able to manage without this for decades. Are we all of a sudden too stupid that we need a warning for every single thing?

      San Francisco Muni buses have a beeping sound when they are turning, similar to a backup alarm. It’s very annoying and definitely adds lots of noise pollution. All of Market Street sounds like a huge truck backing up!

      In my view, it adds one more negative stigma to buses… they’re already “dirty, smelly, slow, etc” in many peoples’ eyes. Now they are loud too.

      1. I’ll buck the trend here. I can see a safety case for the turning bus. Could save a smartphone-addicted pedestrian. Hopeful they aren’t too loud, as my apartment is at a place where a Metro bus turns…

      2. @straphanger,

        they are very loud and ominidirectional. i heard my first one in a quiet neighborhood and I could hear it from a 1/4 block away, and hear it very clearly.

    2. If only there was some sort of visual signal for when a vehicle will be turning…

      All large vehicles in the UK have to announce when they’re reversing with a verbal announcement, not just beeping. And in Wales, the surprisingly long announcement is in both Welsh and English, with the Welsh announcement first (the majority of people in Wales don’t actually speak Welsh). So there’s a good 5 seconds after the truck starts reversing, but before it gets to the English announcement, which would seem to lessen the usefulness of the truck warning.

      1. Out of curiosity, are the Welsh announcements real Welsh, or just gibberish (or better yet, out of office messages)?

      2. “If only there was some sort of visual signal for when a vehicle will be turning…”

        There is. It’s called turn signals.

      3. If only there was some sort of visual signal for when a vehicle will be turning…
        I really wish Metro drivers would be instructed not to routinely use hazard lights when stopping. There’s no useful visible difference (especially when one can’t see the curb side of the bus) between an amber light blinking because the bus is stationary and the same amber light blinking (in the absence of other blinking lights) to signal that the bus is about to turn into traffic. While I’m ranting I also hate the garbage trucks running an amber strobe all day long regardless of whether they are picking up trash (potentially stopping/starting in a driving lane) and driving across town just like every other vehicle on the road.

  6. I can’t compare the relative sizes of Everett and Ballard, but people are already moving to Everett to escape the high housing prices in King County. It’s possible that this process might accelerate. Whether these people are specifically moving to new downtown Everett apartments is a different question. Everett rents are less than Seattle, but they may not be low enough for these migration bids to move into the new apartments, in which case they’ll move to older buildings or other parts of Everett which may be more car-dependent. But the article also cites growing demand from Boeing-related and maritime-related people and others who may be richer on average, so they may be the ones going into the new apartments. Either way it’s growth for the city as a whole.

    Recent trends in Seattle show the rent acceleration slowing and lots of buildings under construction. That could get us closer to an equilibrium, although the continuing loss of cheap old buildings would continue to displace people to Everett. So the migration is likely to either continue at a trickle or accelerate, but not stop. That plus local growth could lead to the 15,000 figure predicted by Mayor Stephanson.

    Whether that’s equal to Ballard is another question, and a less interesting one. Ballard is a white-hot desirable area, and adjacent to Fremont and near UW. Even if Link reaches Everett it would be a 45-minute travel time to UW. So affluent people will continue to flock to Ballard, and non-affluent people will try to, probably more numerous than those willing to live in Everett.

    1. The PSRC population estimates for both Ballard and Everett are complete fabrications – the former will pass their 2040 population estimate in 2018 and the latter won’t hit it’s 2040 estimate even in 2050. There’s some technical reasons why the estimates are so far off, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there was political pressure to fabricate the numbers.

      1. The numbers are not fabricated, but the projection system is constrained so as to generally align (to the extent possible) with regional policy (VISION 2040 and the growth targets in the Countywide Planning Policies).

        PSRC is capable of running an unconstrained projection (and has done so), but that is of limited value for other (mostly technical) reasons.

    2. Recently biked up the Interurban to Everett. Downtown has good bones but needs a lot of work, especially if they want people to access Everett Station (which isn’t really downtown, unfortunately) by means other than car. Very much car-oriented and a complete ghost town on weekends. It’s got a lot of potential but all it takes is one visit to realize they are pretty far behind in the urban trends driving large cities. Which is a pity because it’s got a lot going for it, location-wise.

      1. Yeah, I always thought that it was a shame that Tacoma and Everett are where they are. I think Tacoma is a lot more interesting a city, while I think Everett is in a nicer natural location. To be fair, if you want to hike Rainier, then Tacoma is great; but Everett has a ton of mountains to choose from — it just looks like a suburb, not a city.

      2. Everett is closer to Seattle than Tacoma is. And a lot of the trips between Snohomish County and Seattle are actually to north Seattle which is even closer. There is no equivalent in the south end. Snohomish County has more transit options to Seattle, and it will get significantly better when Lynnwood Link opens. On the other hand, Everett has less Sounder service than Tacoma has, but Tacoma’s stations are on the fringe of the city so it’s harder to walk to them or find a short bus ride to them. Seattle’s pre-1990 suburban ring was Lynnwood-Bothell-Redmond-Renton-Kent, while Auburn and Tacoma were mostly separate market(s). That bringing Everett into our “orbit” is not much of a stretch, while bringing Tacoma in requires including a vast amount of exurban land in between.

        For all these reasons, we should at least think about supporting Everett’s urban growth and integration into the “Seattle orbit” more than Tacoma’s, even though Tacoma has a better head start with a larger downtown and more “streetcar suburb” neighborhoods. I don’t oppose Tacoma’s growth; I think it should happen; but more locally rather than integrated with Seattle.

        That doesn’t necessarily mean extending Link to Everett or expanding Sounder North; there are other ways to support Everett and make traveling between Everett and Seattle easier. Conversely, I still support expanding Sounder South because it hasn’t reached its potential.

      3. Everett is only about five miles closer (by freeway) than Tacoma. I agree, though, that destinations in north Seattle are more popular than south Seattle (mainly because the UW is in the north end). But even with that, the difference is pretty minor (about 25 miles from the UW to Everett and about 33 miles from Tacoma to downtown Seattle). This is all freeway I’m talking about.

        From a railroad perspective, neither is great. The line from Everett keeps getting washed out, and the line out of Tacoma heads south and east before it heads north. I don’t think either one is close enough to be another Bellevue, for example (downtown Bellevue is ten miles from downtown Seattle). At best I think they will be linked the way that Baltimore and DC are linked. You can take a train between the two (hopefully a fast and frequent one) but don’t expect to ride a local Metro between the two — they are too independent, despite some suburbia between.

        So improvements to Sounder make a huge amount of sense for Tacoma. Everett, on the other hand, will probably have to make do with express buses to Lynnwood. This might still be pretty good (faster than light rail the whole way) and might be just fine, since Everett isn’t that big (about half the size of Tacoma) and will continue to be fairly sprawling (despite talk to the contrary).

      4. This is why I think Link to Everett isn’t completely stupid like Link to Tacoma.

        I oppose the Paine Field and. I-5 alignments, but the sr-99 route makes a lit of sense to me.

      5. Seattle Straphanger: Is the trail complete from Everett to the county border? I know it goes from the border to NE 105th (with some segments on Linden Avenue). I was just thinking how, if one lived in Everett, you could get around locally with a bike when ET/CT weren’t convenient, and then I wondered about biking from Everett to Seattle. Highway 99 goes diagonally so it’s much shorter than going straight south and west, but it probably doesn’t have good bike lanes and you’d be riding in front of Swift. Then there’s the Bothell-Everett Highway to the Sammamish River Trail, but again it’s a highway. Is the Interurban Trail a good alternative?

      6. >> This is why I think Link to Everett isn’t completely stupid like Link to Tacoma

        It isn’t completely stupid — it is just mostly stupid. There just aren’t huge numbers of people there. Oh, there is a bit of density somewhat close to the highway, but nothing that substantial. It is nowhere near most of Seattle in terms of high density areas or moderately dense contiguous areas. Nor would it compliment the bus routes substantially (unlike Ballard to UW light rail). Nor would it be substantially faster than the alternatives (unlike Ballard to UW light rail or just about any light rail line we would implement). You would be running an extremely expensive light rail line down a highway that already has (or should have) HOV lanes. If anything, it is an area where surface rail makes sense — assuming, of course, there is something more attractive on the other end. But there isn’t, and I don’t think anyone wants to go down that road anyway.

        I just can’t imagine folks there supporting it, unless they see some great value in the overall system. Subarea equity means I shouldn’t care — if Snohomish County wants to blow a bunch of money on an inappropriate system, then go ahead. Except that it doesn’t work that way. Any proposal will be tied to the rest of it. This means that if Seattle wants to build an appropriate systems (like Ballard to UW light rail) then it might be attached to the same proposal as extending light rail to Everett. Again, I don’t see why someone in Snohomish County would vote for this, unless they really like Ballard to UW light rail. I think a voter in Snohomish County would be happier with more “Swift style” improvements, along with more express buses (or just be happier saving money).

    3. but people are already moving to Everett to escape the high housing prices in King County

      I don’t doubt that at least one person has moved from King County to Everett for cheaper housing, but is this true to a significant enough extent to effect any sort of planning?

      The new census estimates for cities for 2014 came out today, and in the 4 years from 2010 to 2014, Seattle added about 60,000 residents, while Everett added about 3,500- Seattle’s population grew by more than 17 people for every person added to Everett, and that’s starting from Seattle starting the decade with a population about 6 times that of Everett- Seattle’s population growth this decade has accelerated to more than double the annualized rate from last decade, while Everett’s population growth has slowed somewhat.

      Similar, though less extreme trends hold if you compare the whole of King County to Everett.

      If you subtract out Seattle’s contribution to King County’s growth, suburban King County has grown at a rate about 86% faster than Everett, and about the same rate as Snohomish County. Seattle alone had about a third more new residents than Snohomish County as a whole did, and King County added almost twice as many new residents as Snohomish County did betgreaterween 2010 and 2014.

      If Seattle and King County’s housing prices hadn’t appreciated so much the past few years then there might be an even greater discrepancy between Seattle and King County’s growth and that of Everett, and these trends might change direction in the last six years of this decade, but since Seattle and King County’s growth has accelerated, while Everett’s growth has slowed slightly, it’s hard to see that Everett is currently a significant destination for people leaving Seattle and King County.

      1. It’s a small trickle of people literally moving from Seattle to Everett. A larger number are moving to Burien, Tukwila, Lynnwood, etc. It depends on where the individual works, has family ties, likes to go to, and how much exactly they make. South King County has been the go-to place for people priced out of Seattle, but now it’s starting to creep up with so many people going to it. So Snohomish County may become a more significant safety valve in the next 10-20 years. And if you’re going to live in Snohomish County, Everett resembles a city more than anything else does, at least until Lynnwood restores its city center and builds up its Swift station areas. Not everybody goes to downtown Seattle five days a week, and some people wouldn’t go to Seattle that much if they lived several miles away, so for them it’s not significantly worse to live in Everett than Lynnwood or Mountlake Terrace. I was at a #5 stop in Broadview talking with a woman about the recent growth in apartments there and how people were moving to Broadview because they couldn’t afford central Seatte. She said she lived in Broadview but was moving to north Lynnwood due to cost. I asked, “But won’t it be hard living so far away from things?” She said, “It doesn’t matter to me where I live.” Some people are like that.

        Your numbers only tell the absolute population levels; they don’t tell what the same people are doing during that time period. Most of Seattle’s growth is people coming from out of state (and births, which often get ignored), people who can afford Seattle housing and are willing to live only in the inner city. Everett may be getting a little boom like that (Stephanson’s Boeing people and maritime people), but those are really outside the scope of what we’re talking about. Those are absolute demand for housing that each city must deal with, but that’s separate from what the price is relative to the wages of existing residents and how the relatinonship is changing.

      2. Yeah, if you are pushed out of the city, then you probably don’t move to Everett. There are plenty of places a lot closer that are a lot cheaper. This will continue. There is just a huge amount of land between Seattle and Everett (and Seattle and Tacoma for that matter). As mentioned, Tacoma does have a lot more of a “city feel”, so I could see somewhat of a resurgence there.

        That assumes that Seattle itself doesn’t change its zoning laws (that it goes full San Fransisco). When people move to the suburbs because it is cheaper, all a city needs to do is change the laws and lots more people will move to the city.

        I just don’t see substantial growth in Tacoma or Everett unless businesses locate there. No matter what we do, we can’t get away from the fact that it is a long ways away from downtown or even the UW. Too far to be an “easy commute”, no matter what the mode of travel. I could see businesses locating there, but that would be swimming against the tide. The suburban office trend has reversed itself — companies are moving more and more to the city. The same is true for satellite cities — they would rather locate themselves close to the big city. That doesn’t rule out the possibility of it happening. Tacoma could get a boost from another big troop deployment overseas. Boeing could hire a bunch of people in Everett or some small company in either city could suddenly become big and decide not to move (like Microsoft did in Redmond) but the odds are against it. Maybe if another university was added In Everett it might spark growth, but even UW Tacoma hasn’t made Tacoma a huge employment center (it has simply stopped the bleeding).

        I think you will continue to see very small growth in Everett and Tacoma, with much bigger growth in Seattle. This is just the trend nationwide, and I don’t see why it would be different here.

  7. Obviously Metro believes they are addressing a safety issue by having their buses announce “Caution – Turning bus” whenever they make a turn.

    OK, so? What about other vehicles? If a turning bus is dangerous, than surely any other vehicle operating in KC with a similar wheelbase must be equally dangerous.

    So if buses have this warning, why don’t we mandate — for safety reasons of course — that all similarly long vehicles have a similar warning.

    And for truck and pup combos, shouldn’t there be a warning on both the truck and the pup? Those pups can be a long distance from the truck. They already put little lights on the tow bar so cars don’t attempt to drive between them, so why not two warnings whenever they turn?

    1. I witnessed an accident on Rainier a few months ago when the car in front of me decided to change lanes in-between said truck and pup. It goes without saying that it didn’t pan out for him, or the hundreds of rush-hour commuters stuck in the backup that resulted.

      1. I’ve seen sailboats screw up during races and cut between a tug and its tow. It’s the same situation, but in both cases that I have witnessed it the tug slacked the tow chain and the sailboat passed over it. You can’t do that with a truck and pup. Both situations are deadly, but the one with the truck leaves fewer options.

  8. Today’s data dementia from TriMet that may be of entertainment value to transit geeks on this blog:

    Due to a data processing error, stop 5394 (9200 Block SE Stark) will not display correctly in TransitTracker or the trip planner until June 7. To get an idea of when your bus will arrive use the following stop (Stark & 90th, ID 5503). As of 11:35am today

  9. That “car-into-bedroom” post is rather over-the-top from SBB. They are upset that the driver didn’t get any punishment. Sure, maybe a ticket is warranted (not that it would change behavior, of course – this was a new driver). But going down the rabbit hole of wishing for criminal punishment for obvious accidents is dangerous. Every accident would become a crime. I don’t think we want to go there.

    For comparison, here’s another crash SBB covered a while back:

    Lots of posts, but nobody proposed criminal charges. I think that is telling.

    1. That blog sometimes reflects a rather sanctimonious biking attitude. I bike, and it is annoying when cars do stupid stuff like block the bike lane, but I also see bikers being totally unpredictable in a way cars generally don’t.

      1. What always makes me angry, as a cyclist, is that there’s this belief that when you’re on a bike, the normal rules of the road don’t apply. I’m talking about basic stuff here. When I learned to bike, I learned that you should always behave as if you’re a car. Don’t try to jump the queue at a traffic light (and prevent cars from jumping you by moving into the center of the lane). Don’t ignore stop signs. And for god’s sake, don’t weave out into the middle of an intersection on your stupid fixed gear bike to make a left turn against a red light.

        I get a bit cranky about this stuff.

      2. Rules for bikes are always going to be weird, because you can ride a bike on a sidewalk or the street. For example, if I’m out jogging on the sidewalk and reach a stop sign, should I stop first? Most people would say no; the stop sign is meant for cars. But if you are in a bike, should you stop first? Do the rules change if you are on a sidewalk or on the street?

        Then there is the passing issue you raised. Why should I get out of the way of a car, but then I can’t pass the car back when everyone is stopped at the stop sign. Again, this wouldn’t apply if I was on the sidewalk. This seems unfair (they get to pass me, but I can’t catch up to them). This is never an issue with just cars (because the lanes are clearly designated).

        None of this excuses unsafe practices. There are a lot of nuts out there on bikes, and they give everyone a bad name. As a general practice, I act like a car when on the road, and travel at pedestrian speeds when on the sidewalk. If everyone did this, folks would be a lot safer. All that being said, most bike accidents are caused by drivers who just don’t see the biker, even though the biker is doing the right thing. Most of the crazy bike riders are hyped up and expecting nothing from anyone — in other words, they assume that they are invisible, and that drivers will turn and do unexpected things. But safe bikers expect drivers to follow the rules of the road — and when don’t — splat.

      3. I think one of the “bikes vs. cars” ironies that comes from this story is that bike advocates often envy the degree to which cars are sold as complete, integrated products. So when a driver pulling into a parking space, misses the brake by a few inches, and hits the gas instead (maybe more likely in a parking lot, when people have to shift their bodies around to get a better look around corners and stuff), the car just accepts that and hurtles forward at maximum power? That’s a complete, integrated product?

        If you have a clutch it doesn’t, since disengaging the clutch is part of the procedure of braking. With a torque converter you’re in trouble. But a torque converter comes with an automatic transmission — even when the throttle and transmission were purely mechanical their design still encoded logic. Pedal-to-the-metal from parking lot speeds? I don’t know exactly how early automatic transmissions worked, but I’d be surprised if they couldn’t be rigged to kill the engine if you tried that. If that’s too hard, after electronic throttle control and governors became the norm this sort of control became a lot easier to impose, and impose in precise situations. As more sensors feed into a common computer other data could contribute. Is the steering wheel way off-center? Then no peeling out! Did you just bottom out the suspension? Probably not time to be at full power! Today’s vehicles with proximity sensors can do even better, but we shouldn’t have had to develop that kind of technology to avoid crashing into houses! The insane excess of power in today’s cars makes things worse, too — it’s essentially never used for any purpose, but adds to the destructive force in incidents like this. For that matter, in this sort of incident the driver reacts by pushing as hard as possible on what ends up being the gas pedal… so maybe a cut-off threshold could be built into the pedal, so that if you want power but if you stomp all the way down it cuts out.

        A lot of collisions take place because drivers fail to pay attention; this is far too often excused by the law. This sort of mistake isn’t really like that. It calls for a smarter car.

    2. Please.

      Yes, that was awhile back, almost two years ago. I think that is telling.

      The reason you had to look that far back is because the cyclist seriously injuring a pedestrian scenario almost never happens. Now let’s compare that to the car plowing into the house story and people’s reactions. Every single morning we wake up to news of serious, often fatal, motor vehicle accidents. Like you, many seem to react with sentiments of ‘accidents happen’ because they are so used to hearing these stories but it doesn’t have to be this way.

      If you can’t manage to not drive your car into a house you should not have a license. I don’t care if there are any other punishments or not. I just want to see those that have clearly demonstrated they do not have the ability to operate a motor vehicle safely to have their driving privileges revoked until they complete a robust driver’s education course and can prove they have learned to drive legally and safely.

    3. I think what they forget is that this is why we have private law. Obviously the homeowner will file (or threaten to file) a tort claim based on the driver’s pretty obvious negligence and the driver (or their insurance) will pay up. It’s not a desirable societal outcome to criminalize negligence – save that for reckless or intentional acts (it does not appear the driver in this case was legally reckless although SBB would probably take exception to that).

    4. I agree completely, and I think a lot of the “traffic violence” posts we see are poorly thought out. Yes, it’s sickening that there are so many pedestrian and bike fatalities. But the reason for that isn’t that a bunch of crime is going on, it’s that the right of way is dangerously designed for pedestrians and bicycles, and makes it very easy for inattentive drivers to kill.

      You can’t eliminate human error, which by definition has no intent, by imposing draconian punishments intended to be applied to intentional crimes. The solution is to rethink design standards for streets, not to try to prosecute a bunch of people who were negligent for murder (which, under the criminal code, they clearly didn’t commit).

      1. Sometimes, yeah, but… we should have general standards for attentiveness and care when driving.

        For example, the recent case in Kirkland where the DA basically did the defense lawyer’s job to excuse the driver that mowed down a pedestrian in her A-pillar blind spot (i.e. at 11-o’clock as she was turning left) was maddening. She had a clear responsibility to yield and was driving too quickly and inattentively enough to do it. That’s the definition of negligence. Under another country’s standards it might rise to recklessness. The label of “violence”, usually applied to intentional acts, might not make sense at the moment of many collisions. But what about the overall culture that excuses the behavior that leads to them, where careless driving is a norm and where police and prosecutors seem to do everything possible to avoid enforcing standing laws against careless drivers while their victims’ blood cools? That’s a violent culture, no other word for it, with violent results.

      2. I agree that the best way to reduce traffic injuries and fatalities to design safer streets.

        At the same time, AFAIK, you need a valid learner’s permit or driver’s license to drive on public roads, and it’s reasonable to expect that anyone who has a permit or license will drive with the care appropriate to operating a high velocity one-ton mass in public around pedestrians, cyclists, other drivers, and in this case, stationary buildings. When you get behind the wheel, you are voluntarily engaging in an activity that, if not conducted carefully, carries the potential to cause severe injury, destruction, or even death.

        To my mind, crashing into a building- a massive stationary object- is overwhelming evidence that a person cannot safely operate a motor vehicle – at least at present- and shouldn’t be allowed to drive on public roads. at thI think it’s appropriate for the state to require the driver to relinquish her permit/license (if any), and bar her from obtaining a permit or license for some time, and subject her heightened scrutiny if and when she does apply for a permit or license.

  10. Ugh, so depressing. Portland already ran a full train on their new Orange Line (granted, normal operations don’t start until September, but still…). It seems like Trimet can plan, design, construct, and open two new lines in the time it takes for us to tie our shoes. Their level of transit sophistication and hyperactivity reminds me of those builder guys in Fraggle Rock.

    1. I wouldn’t get too excited. The last line opened in 2009; before that it was 2001. Both of those lines were extensions of existing lines and were along wide freeway ROW with little to no complexity. The orange line is similar, except for the new Carruthers bridge. In the case of the red and green lines, I’m not sure much was gained given that travel time from the airport to downtown is extremely slow and takes nearly 40 minutes…

      Obviously Link is much more costly (which extends the timeline due to the available funding) and complex (staging, tunnelling, hauling away dirt, much more complex stations, etc.).

      1. Didn’t the Yellow Line begin operating between 2001 and 2009? Still, I get your point, but those photos of the transit/pedestrian only bridge, look great…and, it appears they’re going full Euro with that grass “paver” approach to the rail bed. You have to admit, the complexity of the Tri-met light rail network makes for a very compelling map graphic.

      2. If we were willing to have slow surface running everywhere that a tunnel is complicated or expensive to build, we could have MAX too. And, like MAX, it wouldn’t be much faster than our buses.

        But people don’t want that. Witness the near-riot that occurred in the comments here and in other places when Sound Transit revealed that a MAX-like option was at the top of mind in their Ballard planning.

      3. The map is impressive, but unfortunately the system just isn’t competitive with other options. I am a huge public transit fan and am often willing to incur extra time to avoid driving. I recently took the red line from the PDX airport… had to wait several minutes to leave, and it just seemed like an extremely slow ride. The station dwell times seemed excessive, there were several very slow stretches in areas where one would expect to be fast (leaving the airport, near gateway transit center on the single track, etc.) and of course then you enter the Lloyd District/Downtown which means you have stops every two blocks and thus you aren’t going anywhere fast. It was nearly an hour to Pioneer Courthouse Square all said and done… and a taxi would have been 20 minutes. Traffic between the airport and downtown isn’t usually that bad anyway, except in the morning rush.

      4. I wouldn’t get too excited. The last line opened in 2009; before that it was 2001. Both of those lines were extensions of existing lines and were along wide freeway ROW with little to no complexity. The orange line is similar, except for the new Carruthers bridge. In the case of the red and green lines, I’m not sure much was gained given that travel time from the airport to downtown is extremely slow and takes nearly 40 minutes…

        You underestimate how slow our buses are down here. Far SE Portland to downtown is decently faster on the Green Line than the bus options, The airport was at the far outer reaches of the 12, which to you would have been like getting to SeaTac on the 8.

        I would also point out that planning and building these lines hasn’t been as fast as you might think. Planning for them started a long time before construction started. In some cases that has been a hindrance. Eg, the orange line takes great pains to serve a station for which the City of Milwaukie decided to not purchase the land. The net result is a bit like building a line to Golden Gardens via Ballard, then deciding to leave out the Ballard station because it would cost too much.

  11. I feel like the news roundup post has a bit more snark (on the original post) than normal?

    1. Yeah, I may have been grumpy when writing it at 6:30 this morning. It was pre-coffee.

  12. It is official. The Urbanist does not understand, or even much like, the messy vibrancy of cities.

  13. If Amazon wants to deliver with a quadcopter…let it be a Hydrogen Fuel Cell quadcopter!

    Hydrogen-powered drone will fly for hours at a timef

    Horizon Unmanned Systems (HUS) thinks it has a solution, however: hydrogen power. Its recently unveiled Hycopter drone runs on a lightweight hydrogen fuel cell that should deliver up to 4 hours of flight time unloaded, and 2.5 hours when it’s carrying 2.2 pounds of cargo.

  14. The tunnel was always high-risk because the size and the soil conditions are “beyond precedent,” Boston consultant Thom Neff warned in 2010, in a report for then-Mayor Mike McGinn.

    Oh great, now we hear about this.

    When it was up for a vote, anyone who questioned the DBT was labelled a fool or madmen.

    It was the “easy way”.

    Now it sounds more like we were betting on whether Evel Knievel could jump the Grand Canyon.

  15. I witnessed a bizarre scene in Edmonds this afternoon while photographing Sounder stations. One of the track switches on the BNSF mainline malfunctioned, causing the railroad crossing right in front of the ferry terminal to stay down for about 2.5 hours. An Edmonds police officer and a WSF worker directed traffic around the crossing gates while a BNSF crew worked on the track right in front of a stopped freight train.

    Didn’t get to see how it affected the first northbound Sounder run of the day, which is kind of disappointing.

    1. Didn’t affect it at all.
      Train Blows Whistle..
      Traffic stops..
      Well, the Police and WSF understand what that means.

  16. I live in federal way and drove by myself to downtown Bellevue every day for work. Took about an hour. So stressful. I drove because my employer paid for my parking (special circumstance for me since most employees didn’t get free parking at my work) and current transit from federal way to Bellevue is slow and infrequent (also i would have to pay for transit pass). I never moved closer to work because I couldn’t afford to live on the east side. After five years, I finally landed a job in downtown seattle that pays for my transit pass. Now I take an express bus from a park and ride. Even though my commute is still one hour and the bus is always about 15-20 minutes late, my life feels so much better! Just my story on how I switched from SOV to bus.

    Also IMO, I think the SLUT never had big ridership because the line is so short and since it has no dedicated lane, is really slow. So if you build it RIGHT, then the ridership should follow…

    1. Joe, I’m having trouble following your logic. You cite the cost of a bus pass as one of the main reasons you drove, but wasn’t your monthly gas bill greater than the cost of a bus pass?

      1. Hi Sam, my car got decent MPG so the bus pass cost about $25 more a month than the gas I used. And the quickest transit options required a transfer and still took 30 minutes longer than if I just drove by myself.

  17. I saw one of the new articulated trolleys on the 43 wire going south on 23rd. They look great! I can’t wait to be riding on those bad boys. However, I will miss (I assume) that super generous legroom on the back driver side rows of the Breda’s.

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