This is an open thread.

135 Replies to “News Roundup: Little Effect”

  1. Typo: The quotes should go around “BRT” not “Vine”. Bus rapid transit without exclusive lanes isn’t rapid and we should stop allowing cities to call it such.

      1. Joe,
        I am referring to Vine specifically here it has exactly zero dedicated lanes.

        Swift is an entirely different matter.

      2. Fourth Plain has relatively little car traffic. SR500 is just six blocks to the north and Burton/18th three to six blocks to the south. Most of the cross-streets just run between those two parallel streets because the freeway has only a couple of crossings and Burnt Bridge Greenway is to the south.

        So having signal priority is pretty much enough to make a difference in the performance of the buses.

        Now in ten years when the area has filled up and there are lots more cars, C-Tran may regret not negotiating jump lanes at Andresen with the City, but as of right now traffic is not going to be much of a problem.

      1. “The grant reads, “… a Small Starts project must either (a)…(b)… or (c) be new corridor-based bus project with all of the following minimum elements: Substantial transit stations, Traffic signal priority/pre-emption, to the extent, if any, that there are traffic signals on the corridor, Low-floor vehicles or level boarding, Branding of the proposed service, and 10 minute peak/15 minute off peak headways or better while operating at least 14 hours per weekday.” It looks like getting the grant drove most of The Vine project elements, versus having a local need for these requirements.”

        Any bus rider would say those features are precisely what we need anyway. Only a non-rider would say that signal priority, frequency, and span are completely unimportant and not worth paying for.

    1. I’m afraid the “BRT” term is being watered down too much. The same thing can happen with light rail, too. But I think it happens a lot more with BRT. Partly it is because “streetcars” are pretty popular. So if some city says they are building a streetcar, they aren’t that tempted to call it light rail (even though the difference is the same as the difference between a river and a creek).

      I wish the IDTP would get involved in more bus systems that are called “BRT”. There is a grading system, and it would help with the whole thing. Unfortunately, not that many BRT systems are even graded. I think in general the grading system makes a lot of sense, and is a reasonable measure of how effective a line is. The fact that they have several levels (gold, silver, bronze and “Not BRT”) allows a system to graded effectively (it would be far worse if there was only a “BRT” and “Not BRT”).

      I think it is reasonable for a reporter (or average citizen) to ask a representative at a press conference something like this:

      “You are calling this bus system a BRT system. Have you had the independent Institute for Transportation and Development Policy evaluate the system to see if it adheres to their standards for BRT, and if so, how did it fare?”

      If not, the followup question should be:

      “Based on that, couldn’t you call any bus a BRT?”

  2. From the guy who made the super amateur schematic of David Lawson’s Frequent Network (me), here’s a slightly less amateur alternative. I’ve gone with a few new methods to put more focus on the frequent lines, pulling from well-known frequency maps out there. The lines go from darker to lighter, thicker to thinner, and have varying corner radii depending on their frequency levels. I’ve made a few changes to make it more geographically accurate too. There are probably still a few mistakes, so let me know if you see any, or if you have any suggestions on making it more legible.


    1. My only criticism is the wording of “Frequent Grid”. It’s too close to “Frequent Service” which is one of the other two categories. And a complete Seattle grid as I’ve always envisioned it would include more lines than that: 85th, 105th, 130th, 145th, etc. So “the grid” would more or less include the FS routes. Although I don’t see a 125th/130th line. Is this map based on Metro’s current routes or the U-Link proposal or David L’s network? Does David L’s network not have a 125th/130th line at all?

      In any case, we already have the RapidRide brand floating around, so we could just call the Frequent Grid category RapidRide. That would require checking the federal grant requirements: what does it mandate as far as roads, beyond the red buses and uncomfortable station seats? One way forward would be to say we plan to gradually upgrade all FG lines to RapidRide, and that no RapidRide lines will be less than FG. That would conceptually unify FG and RR and set a long-term goal of completely unifying them. That would also answer the question of what is RapidRide’s long-term direction. Although it would raise the issue of suburban RapidRide lines (A, B, F), which can’t be expected to go to 10-minute service on the city’s schedule.

      1. Haha yeah, I was at a serious loss as to what to call that. Definitely looking for something that makes more sense. I wasn’t sure since there are three different frequency levels. I like the idea of applying the RapidRide nomenclature to the so-called Frequent Grid.

        The map is just a schematic of David’s network, so I claim no responsibility or credit for the routing therein. I used his Google maps overlays as a data source and then created a schematic out of them. https://frequentnetwork.wordpress.com/

    2. Nice job. I really like the map in general. It is enough of a schematic to be easily read, yet close enough to the actual geography to be realistic. It is obviously a simplified version of Seattle. Some subway maps look nothing like the city they are trying to represent. Yours is the opposite — great job.

      A few thoughts:

      1) Some of the streets are shown as not going through. It is a judgement call, obviously. Those are streets without frequent bus service, and if you add too many streets, it can confuse things. But as an example, I would add the connection from N 130th to N 125th (as a thin white line). Likewise, I would add Lake City Way on there. These are things that just help with the overall geography. If I’m standing at 15th and Lake City Way (a very busy intersection) I would expect to see my location on the map (but I can’t). I don’t think adding too many thin white lines would clutter it up too bad.

      2) The color scheme works, but I wonder how to make it better. First, great shade of green. It really pops out, like the green in Green Trail maps. The light blue is a bit hard to read, but on the positive side, it is obvious that it is lesser service. It is not easy to create a logical color progression. You can vary intensity (as you did with the blue), but that can lead to colors that are hard to read. I suggest red, yellow, green, black. Green is “go” — it is the most frequent. Red is infrequent, while yellow is in between. This makes black the color of light rail. Black might fade into the background a bit, but I don’t think that matters. There is only one light rail line, and the line itself doesn’t matter — the stations do. If you wander over to Aurora, you should expect to see a bus stop for the 58 somewhere within a few blocks. But if you wander over to north Capitol Hill, obviously you will be out of luck. Anyway, Blue for light rail could also work. The great thing is that you have three levels of bus service, so red, yellow, green could easily work. Since the green is a great shade of green (as I said, it pops out) I think it could look great. This is something you might want to play around with (red might overpower things — I don’t know).

      3) As Mike said, I think the term “Frequent Grid” is confusing. I would just go with something simple. Maybe local, frequent and very frequent. I would consider reordering the labels, too. As in “local, frequent, very frequent and light rail”, which could be read as “good, better, great, spectacular”.

      Anyway, I find the thing very helpful and very useful. It is also a bit depressing. If I’m at 125th and Aurora, and want to get to 125th and 15th, I basically have to go down and around (or up and over). In other words, a five minute drive would be replaced by a very long series of bus trips. But that is the way the system (even this much improved system) works. Your map just reflects the sad reality and the value of a NE 130th station (and the bus changes that would obviously come with it).

      Again, outstanding work. It is easy when viewing this to tease out potential trips. I wish Metro had done the same thing with their restructure (showing before and after pictures). Of course, to be fair, a map like this can be misleading depending on how you make the cutoff (a bus that runs every twenty minutes shows up as a thirty minute bus, even though it is a lot more frequent than that).

    3. Some comments and suggestions on design:

      First, nice job schematizing Seattle considering that you’re using only angles in increments of 45 degrees. Although it does introduce kinks on streets that doesn’t exist in reality like on Boren. The distribution of area and lines feels balanced.

      I’m not sure what display size you are designing this for but the label text is too light in color and weight. There seems to be only two weights: really bold and really light. I have to zoom really close in to be able to read them. To be fair, the bold neighborhood names make up for that in seeing overall connectivity sans line numbers and street names. Try matching the color and weight of the text to frequency the same way you did with the lines.

      The bright lines for the background streets look distracting with the way they don’t connect. It looks like they’re inconsistently applied. Why do some streets have a line and why do some routes have no street background? By making the street labels bolder, you might be able to get rid of the background lines and reserve them for cross streets.

      One way of making the lines more legible is to separate parallel lines. That way tracing a line is easier than trying to follow the white arrow lines inside the lines or following route badges.

      There isn’t enough color contrast between the frequent service lines, local lines and the background. This combines with the thick background street lines to make those segments more important than they are. Try making the background color lighter.

      Hope that helps!

      1. Thanks for the tips! They certainly mean a lot coming from you. The Boren conundrum has also been bothering me. I considered going with 45 degree increments for everything but a few of the obviously in-between lines, but I hadn’t gotten around to that and I think it would look off. I’ll experiment a bit with different increments to see if I can find something that works.

        David was talking about how he had a new version in the works too, so I’ll definitely look at applying the things you mention if/when he comes out with that. Probably in the mean time too since I can’t seem to stop messing with it.

  3. Thanks for using my image. I was heading in to Pix2015 and decided to try a very low shutter speed to see what would happen. Apparently I did great.

    Also, BTW, I am not campaigning for any more monorail lines. Just needed to use a link from Sound Transit 510 to Seattle Center.

    1. Our current monorail is just fine I think. No need to extend it, but we do need to integrate it into ORCA.

      Anyone know what happened to the effort to integrate the monorail into a modern fare system?

  4. I hope the Council is smart enough to give less weight to the usual suspects who come from miles away to stack public meetings, and more weight to neighborhood residents who will be most affected by any changes the Council makes.

    1. Which council are you talking about? Shoreline for 145th? They will of course listen mostly to Shoreline residents, who are the ones who can reelect/unelect them. King County for the U-Link reorg? The ST board for ST3? For the U-Link reorg, everyone who uses any of these routes for any reason, or would use the reorganized routes, or would consider living in or going to that area if it were reorganized, has standing to comment on the restructure. Maybe not you, if you spend all your time in Bellevue. But a transit network by definition affects the entire entity it’s in (i.e., King County), because it helps or hinders overall county mobility, which will affect everybody sooner or later over their lifetime, so everybody has a stake in it. Limiting input to the square mile of current residents around the line is too much. Everybody is paying for it, not just them.

      1. I don’t wish to be more specific. But as a rule, when the government wants to hear what a specific neighborhood thinks about a potential change, and advocates come from outside the neighborhood to attend the meeting, I hope the gov’t takes that into account and gives more weight to the opinions of the local neighborhood residents who will be effected the most.

      2. I always hate it when people correct themselves (I meant affected, not effected), because it makes them seem like they care too much what others think of them, so I refuse to go back and correct my mistakes.

      3. That’s the point though: the government doesn’t ask for just a single neighborhood’s comments. Surrey Downs residents aren’t the only ones with standing to say whether Link should be on 112th. If the line is built elsewhere or is not built, that affects all riders and indirectly all the region’s residents. Opponents of upzoning have tried to argue that only single-family residents or non-renters have standing to decide what changes happen in their neighborhood, and that’s just wrong.

    2. Zach, I’m not trolling in this case. I’m being completely sincere. BTW, just because it rubs you the wrong way or you disagree with it, doesn’t mean it’s trolling. But I can understand where you’re coming from, though. I’m now a bit like the boy who cried wolf one too many times. But yeah, give more weight to the local neighborhood resident than the outside advocate.

      1. Im not sure if I agree with Sam as I’m at lunch and not really thinking transit right now but it’s clear based on the context that Sam is not trolling. A valid opinion worth considering.

      2. An outside activist would have to come from Tacoma. All Seattle residents, and to a lesser extent, King County residents will be effected by this reorganization. Everyone has standing to share their views.

  5. The rules for permit parking do sound a little intrusive. They’ll review your ORCA record for the past month to see if you’ve made at least three trips per week? They’ll check if you have two transit-riding carpool passengers? How will they know who your passengers are, without asking for their names and ORCA card numbers. And how would drivers know what their passengers’ ORCA card numbers are? It’s not something people usually ask.

    1. Okay, don’t like the rules? Purchase and/or build your own parking space. ST is trying to ensure that their extremely limited parking stalls are used as efficiently as possible. Those parking stalls are VERY expensive and they are trying to get the best bang for their buck. As a taxpayer, I appreciate it.

    2. My preference would be for them to start charging market prices for each and every space, but I realize that’s likely to prove politically impossible at this time. Given that they’re selling reserved spots at below-market prices to a limited number of people, I think it makes perfect sense to ensure that the few people with passes are the ones who actually ride transit the most.

    3. What is the market price? Whatever leaves two or three spaces open? Should it be first come, first served? The current free regime is first come, first served, and that’s precisely what people are saying is suboptimal, because regular commuters have to get there my 6:30am and they never know if they’ll have a place or if they’ll have to turn around. That uncertainty makes commuter transit less reliable as it could be.

      1. Yes, the market price is whatever leaves just a few spaces open on a typical day. When you charge such a price, first-come-first-serve works out just fine because there will almost always be a space for anyone who wants to pay for one, regardless of when they show up.

      2. Dynamic pricing would work here, because simple counters at the entrance would determine the occupancy. Cheap at 6:15 AM would become more expensive at 6:45 and really screaming high at 7:15. Sure, that would somewhat incentivize people to come early, but it isn’t going to be a huge effect, simply because people don’t want to get to work all that early and give the boss an extra 30 minutes for free.

    1. The first paragraph contradicts your statement. “The good news is that the UW is breaking ground on significant safety and capacity upgrades for one of the busiest stretches of trail you will find anywhere in the US.” And later, “When complete, the trail will be twice as wide as it is today, which is important for carrying the extra people expected to walk and bike to and from the UW light rail station.”

      That has nothing to do with bicycle parking at the station; it has to do with getting to the station, which people will have to do no matter whether there’s more parking or not. And my experience with the BGT is that it gets congested at rush hour. Seriously: I can’t ride full speed then. You’d think that only car roads get that much congestion, but it happens on the BGT too. So widening it is the same as widening a road, and of course there’ll be construction impacts while they’re doing it. A road is wide enough that usually one lane can remain open during construction, but obviously the BGT is narrower than that and maybe keeping one lane open is too infeasable to expect. In any case, the detour is essentially right next to it, so it’s not going far out of the way. Unfortunate about the hill, but that’s why the railroad was laid in that inefficient U shape: to skirt the hill. There’s no place else to put a detour except on Pacific Street and Montlake Boulevard, which are way too congested for it.

      1. Yes, I was being somewhat cynical and sarcastic. True, when the trail eventually reopens, things will be far better than they are now. But still, the trail will be closed in the meantime, and people will be detoured up a steep hill.

        I’d really like to see throughput numbers on the Burke-Gilman Trail and one lane of Pacific Street. If the trail’s as congested as you say, maybe taking a lane out of Pacific Street would be worth it? Even so, this is the main bike thoroughfare for half the county; they shouldn’t close it without bending over backwards to make the detour as painless as possible. Not even for future improvements.

      2. Taking a lane of Pacific St. would be bad for buses. It’s also not super clear how much better it would be for bikes. The hill isn’t that steep, and the distance is a bit shorter. And, you’d have to go up the hill to get from Pacific St. back to the trail at the end of the detour anyway.

    2. Bad timing, to be sure. But I don’t blame them for starting right now. They just got the money, so I would rather they start right way as opposed to delaying this further. Link being open and this project won’t overlap too much. The detour doesn’t look too terrible, either (better than the previous detour).

      1. Seems to me the detour’s pretty much identical, except for using the reopened Rainier Vista.

        And the light rail will open sometime in February or March, while the trail will be closed until some unspecified time in “summer 2016.” That could be up to six months of trail closure while the station’s open.

      2. It seems like an engineer and planner with a bit of creativity could think of a way to build one of the two new trails parallel to the existing trail, demolish the existing trail, and replace it with the second trail. At which point they can dedicate one trail to peds and the other to cyclists.

    3. Seems like a trail diet may be the best way to solve the congestion on this part of the trail. Would make it safer for everyone.

  6. I’m cautiously optimistic about bikeshare expansion. The main problems seem to be the station locations and lack of coverage, rather than the bikes themselves or fees or kiosks or roads. So with more stations where people want to bike, it would proabably pick up more users. Then there’s the helmet law though. That’s a county thing, isn’t it? Since the city council just petitioned the state to lift rent control bans, it could do the same thing to the encourage the county to review the helmet law. Either to repeal it entirely, or to make an exception for bikeshare bikes. And the city’s commitment to segregated bikeways could be used as evidence to justify an exception; in the past couple weeks I’ve seen white divider poles on Campus Parkway and a few other new places.

    1. Adding more stations is critical. Right now it doesn’t include Fremont, which is really silly. Lots of people on this blog, as well as the bike blogs and the main website suggested that Fremont makes a huge amount of sense. Bike share is a challenge in this town because of the hills as well as the fact that our urban areas are so disconnected. Capitol Hill is one exception (up on the hill it is essentially a plateau). Fremont to the UW is disconnected, but the Burke Gilman makes for a very smooth, easy ride, and should allow someone to use the bike without exceeding the time limit. It will be even better to Ballard.

      1. Fremont and Ballard are obvious places for a station. I work in Fremont and occasionally go to the Eastside after work. I have to get downtown or to the U-District to catch a bus over there. The connecting buses (26/28/31/32/40) run so slowly at peak times that I know I could easily do better on a bike. Put a bike share station in Fremont and I’ll seriously consider signing up for it. As is, I almost never take any trips where both ends currently have bike share stations, so the system is useless to me.

    2. Oh, I also think the helmet law is silly, but I also think people will ignore it. How often is a cop going to give a ticket for not using a helmet, especially if he is riding fairly slow and otherwise obeying the law?

      1. Lack of enforcement is a poor reason to repel any law. I personally think people who advocate for the removal of the helmet law are trading safety for convenience and using this excuse mainly as a cover. Silly that we try to actually save lives here right?

      2. Yes, it’s very silly; the damage helmet laws do to public health, by discouraging people from riding bikes, outweighs the benefit they can have by reducing the impact of what turn out ot be a fairly small number of crashes.

      3. I might be partial but I know of someone who died so I guess barriers suck, but I’m always going to put human life first. Just remember this is also a taste of the resistance repealing it will have. I may be emotional about it but nonetheless, I’m not the only one.

      4. Repealing the helmet would not prevent you from wearing a helmet anyway. Even systems that don’t have helmet laws still encourage helmet use deep down in the fine print.

      5. Look at the low helmet-use rates of the safest cycling countries in the world and you’ll have your answer. Helmet requirements are simply not a best practice for cycling safety at the city level and above. We’d probably prevent more serious injuries overall by requiring car occupants to wear helmets.

      6. Agreed — this is a “vote with feet” exercise.

        The problem is that the helmet law is indeed that — law. Injuries sustained while not wearing one will legally be considered negligent or reckless behavior and won’t stand up to insurance, courts, etc. (That’s really why the law needs to be changed…)

      7. “I also think people will ignore it. How often is a cop going to give a ticket for not using a helmet”

        It’s not just the actual tickets but the intimidation. You may be perfectly comfortable daring policemen to cite you, but other people aren’t and will feel stressed. Or they won’t use the bikeshare because they’re not comfortable either wearing a helmet or breaking the law.

      8. The point is that segregated bike lanes and low-volume streets are much less likely to have accidents that cause riders to fall. Both because of fewer cars making sudden movements, and because people are riding slower.

      9. How many lives do helmet laws actually save, if any? Approximately 750 cyclists die from being hit by a car each year in the US. With the current rate of helmet use that means the average American has something like a 2-in-a-million chance of dying on a bicycle each year. Helmets aren’t perfect — many of these crashes would cause deaths even if the rider was wearing a helmet. Let’s generously assume that 100% helmet use would reduce the death rate to 1-in-a-million Americans. Is this really a big enough safety win that it justifies taking away peoples’ right to decide for themselves whether they will wear a helmet?

        I mean, this death rate is much lower than the number of people who are killed by firearms in a year. Should we require everyone wear bulletproof vests when out in public?

        Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of people die each year from heart disease. Bicycling has acquired a reputation for being a dangerous activity, largely because of all these helmet laws. If removing that stigma caused even a fraction of Americans to start riding bikes more, the decline in heart attack deaths could easily eclipse the increase in bicycle-related brain injuries.

        Note that I’m not saying that helmet use (or bulletproof vest use) is a bad idea. You’ll be safer with protective equipment than without. That doesn’t mean that a requirement to use such equipment is an indisputably good idea.

      10. Can someone explain to me why a bike helmet law is bad? It seems that requiring cyclists to wear helmets is similar to requiring car drivers to wear seatbelts.

      11. Helmet laws discourage people from riding bikes. Helmets are a signal of danger, which makes people more reluctant to ride; beyond that, many people find them uncomfortable or unfashionable, and will opt not to participate in an activity which requires one.

        The damage done to public safety by discouraging people from riding bicycles greatly outweighs the negligible benefit done by requiring them to wear helmets while doing so.

        The safety of each individual bicyclist is related to the number of other bicyclists on the road: more bicyclists means more visibility, more familiarity, and more safety. Discouraging people from riding makes the remaining riders less safe.

        There are significant health benefits from the sort of exercise you get from riding a bike. Discouraging someone from riding a bike by requiring them to wear a helmet does more to harm their health, by making the exercise less appealing, than it does to benefit their health, by protecting in a marginal way against an extremely uncommon form of injury.

      12. Again, there’s a difference between riding a short distance between bikeshare stations, mostly on segregated bikeways, low-speed neighborhood streets like Pine, and connecting residential streets, -vs- riding on Aurora or Westlake, or going downhill at 30mph and going over a bump or stick, or having a car door suddenly open or the car move out of its parking space, or having a car suddenly turn into a street that doesn’t always have a lot of cars. Accidents are much more likely in the latter cases than in the former cases, therefore helmets are more of a benefit in the latter cases.

      13. Even if *the individual practice of wearing a helmet* only brings benefit, a *mandatory helmet-wearing law* still works out, overall, to cause harm. The damage done by the collective reduction in bicycle riding outweighs the benefit done to the very, very small number of people who would have ridden a bicycle without a helmet before the law, and are still willing to ride a helmet after the law, but will wear a helmet in order to comply with the law.

        Most people will comply with the law by deciding not to ride a bicycle at all, and that is a worse outcome for everyone than if they had continued to ride, whether or not they chose to wear a helmet while riding.

      14. (that should have been “still willing to ride a bicycle”, obviously, not “still willing to ride a helmet”)

      15. I still don’t understand. Who are all of these people who are thinking “I would have ridden my bike, but Seattle demanded I wear a helmet. So I threw my bike in the garage and drove instead.”

        That sort of argument doesn’t make sense to me. Is a helmet that much of a burden to these people? I don’t particularly like how a seat belt chafes across my shoulder and chest. That doesn’t mean I would give up driving rather than just suck it up and wear the seat belt.

      16. “Who are all of these people who are thinking “I would have ridden my bike, but Seattle demanded I wear a helmet. So I threw my bike in the garage and drove instead.” ”

        The people who aren’t using Pronto because they don’t want to wear a helmet. They don’t have a helmet in the garage because they don’t have their own bike; they would be using Pronto’s rented helmet. They don’t want to check out and in a helmet every time they grab a pronto bike, and they don’t want to carry their own helmet around all day if they have one for the 20 minutes total they’ll be on a bike. When I had a bike I put the U-lock through one of the helmet’s holes and stored it on the bike (along with my jacket if I was going into a club with a paid coat check) but not all helmets facilitate that, and with Pronto that’s not an option anyway.

      17. I really don’t have a problem with the helmet law, I ride a bike every day, it’s my main mode of transportation, and I always use a helmet. I started before it became the law. But for bike share systems, the mandatory helmet is a serious drawback. The utility of a bike share system is to allow spontaneous or flexible trip planning, and no one is going to cart around a helmet on the mere chance that they might decide to hop on a bike. Especially if those people are tourists. And the rental helmets are a deterrent for the same reason, albeit to a lesser degree, that rental underwear is a deterrent. It triggers the ick factor. (And in Seatle’s case, the helmets are too small. I dutifully rented one but couldn’t put it on no matter what adjustment I made, as I had to demonstrate to a cop on my case for not wearing it.)

        As to the safety factor, wearing a helmet is undoubtedly the safer thing to do. But the risks aren’t what you might assume. The data from BC is illuminating:

        “A recent analysis compared the fatality rate by mode of travel in BC. There were 14 deaths per 100 million trips for bicycling, 15 for walking and 10 for driving – remarkably similar. Per 100 million kilometres travelled, there were three deaths for bicycling, seven for walking and one for driving. Using distance rather than trips shows that cyclists and pedestrians are more vulnerable road users.” (Kay Teschke and John Carsley in The Vancouver Sun, July 8, 2013)

        Per km traveled, pedestrians have a higher death rate than cyclists. There is more cause for a mandatory helmet law for pedestrians than there is for cyclists. This data is not specific to deaths from head injury alone; however, head injury is going to be a factor in most accidents that cause death to either cyclists or pedestrians. Those that think that helmets ought to be mandatory for cyclists might consider making helmets mandatory for pedestrians too.

      18. We are the only city to require a helmet law for a bike share, and there is no evidence that it makes it safer. Quite the contrary: http://usa.streetsblog.org/2014/07/08/safety-in-bike-share-why-do-public-bikes-reduce-risk-for-all-cyclists/.

        Oh, and has anyone noticed that Pronto is considering electric bikes? Please show me the study that says that electric bikes are safer or as safe as regular bikes. It seems like we are embracing helmets for bike shares because some feel they are safer (despite the evidence), but not worried in the least about electric bikes. Seems backwards.

    3. “Bike share is a challenge in this town because of the hills”

      That’s what was missing in the DC comparison. “He acknowledges that D.C. is much denser than Seattle, but says the cities are about the same size.” But we also have hills! How many people do you think don’t bike from SLU to Greenwood because they don’t want to go up the hill from the Ship Canal? I don’t, and pretty much everything in north Seattle except Fremont and Ballard is uphill from the Ship Canal. Including the U-District, although that hill is more mild than Phinney Ridge.

      1. I would love to use Pronto, but it currently isn’t convenient for me. Not because it doesn’t cover the neighborhoods I need (it does – UW and the U District) but because the stations there are too few and far between to make it worthwhile. For the two main trips I need to make across campus and the neighborhood spontaneously, the ~15 minute walk is about the same as it would be to walk to the nearest Pronto Station, bike, then walk again. Just a couple more stations around campus would change that dramatically. I realize that not everyone’s preferred destinations can be covered by a system like this, but the lack of a single station near the Quad or Red Square seems like a big oversight. Other systems I’ve ridden seem to have much greater station density in core areas like this.

      2. I absolutely agree. For me, the lack of a station anywhere near the Montlake Triangle is a big deal. It’s a big reason why my Pronto trips to date have cost an average of $2.08/mile, equivalent to riding every Pronto trip I have taken over the past year on UberX.

        The Montlake Triangle is really big enough to warrent multiple stations. There should be one for Link, but for the bus stop on Stevens Way, one for the bus stops on Pacific St., and one just north of the T-Wing overpass bridge. The station at the back of the UW Med Center is poorly located, and should be moved. Any of the other spots I mentioned in the past sentence would still serve the UW Med Center, and be much more visible, as well as useful for trips to other destinations.

      3. Oddly, I’ve lately seen Pronto bikes far out of the station area, way down in Madison Valley. I wondered where they were going to bring the bikes back to, and what route they would take to get back.

    4. Green Lake could have at least three locations I can think of that would really benefit from the proximity to public transit: Rec Center (48, 16, 26), the Woodlands Park area (E line), and the wading pool area (48, 16).

      1. I saw one getting off the Bainbridge ferry this summer (with helmet on :) ) …I thought yikes! That’s going to be expensive.

      2. I saw a Pronto bike on the rack of the RR E bus I was riding as I approached the Aurora Village TC a few weeks ago. My first thought was who was stealing it. Sadly, I had to run for a transfer and never saw the rest of the story….

    5. “The people who aren’t using Pronto because they don’t want to wear a helmet. They don’t have a helmet in the garage because they don’t have their own bike; they would be using Pronto’s rented helmet. They don’t want to check out and in a helmet every time they grab a pronto bike, and they don’t want to carry their own helmet around all day if they have one for the 20 minutes total they’ll be on a bike. When I had a bike I put the U-lock through one of the helmet’s holes and stored it on the bike (along with my jacket if I was going into a club with a paid coat check) but not all helmets facilitate that, and with Pronto that’s not an option anyway.”

      I really don’t get this, or what the problem could be. They keep helmets are right where the bikes are. They’re free and clean. Quick to get and put on. You can get rid of it when you return the bike. Or keep it all day.

      Someone told me the Pronto helmets didn’t fit his head. I could see that would be a problem. Otherwise, to my pleasant surprise, they’ve really done a great job of making helmets convenient and a non-issue.

      1. The question is, do you want the maximum number of would-be users to use bikeshare, or do you want everyone to wear a helmet? It may not be a problem for you or me, but it is for probably a third or half of the would-be users judging from the comments I hear about it, and from the comments I heard about biking before Pronto.

        I actually believe pretty strongly in helmets, and I’ve fallen off a bike twice so I feel safer with it on. But I was not biking the way Pronto users do: I was doing hour-plus trips across the city or to the suburbs, on faster streets. My first accident was in Lynnwood when it got dark and rainy and my light battery died and I rode into a ditch. My second accident was just south of Mountlake Terrace, it must have been bump or stick in the road. So I’m pretty pro-helmet. But the risks are much less when I see people riding the bike lanes in the Netherlands, or a few blocks between Pronto stations. If the helmet law is discouraging people from biking for those kinds of trips, if it’s preventing Pronto from reaching the market share most bikeshares have, then it’s counterproductive. You can always wear a helmet anyway even if the law doesn’t say you have to.

      2. What I see you referring to is people who are ideologically opposed to helmets. If they hate helmets then yes they’ll hate bike share helmets too, but it’s got nothing to do with Pronto itself.

      3. Either they’re opposed to helmets or they don’t want to take the extra minute to check it in and out of the bin each time. Part of bikeshare’s appeal is you can quickly hop on a bike and go. Dealing with helmets makes it less quick, and if your total trip is five or fifteen minutes, it’s a not insignificant part of the time it takes, especially if you’d be riding it several times a day or week.

      4. My problem is that the “one-size-fits-all” Pronto helmets are too small for my head. So if I was going to use Pronto, I’d need bring my own helmet or just not wear one and risk getting in trouble with the cops.

        I know my head is bigger than most (between size 7 and 7/8s and size 8), but I don’t think it’s that much of an outlier (I can usually wear an extra-large ball cap–so I don’t need to go to a special store to buy one).

        Moreover, I was able to buy a bike helmet that fits my head and I’ve used adjustable helmets in the past that can expand to accommodate my large head. If Pronto is going to buy 1000s of those Bern helmets, it seems like they ought to be able to demand that they make them big enough to fit heads up to size 8, as that would likely serve 98 out 100 people.

        It’s a shame. I needed a new helmet when Pronto came on-line last year, and I probably would have signed up for the year membership if their helmets fit my head. Instead, I’ve never used it.

        That said, I like the idea of expanding it. It’s frustrating that there’s no bike station on top of Beacon Hill by the Link Station (and at other Link stations in the south end. The mountains to sound trail is a great ride from Beacon Hill to Othello (all down hill and beautiful, especially on a sunny day. It’s like an amusement park ride). If you could grab a Pronto at Beacon Hill, ride it down the trail to Othello, leave it there, and then take light rail home, that would be a really fun outing on a sunny summer day.

        A Beacon Hill station would also give me the option of riding a Pronto bike home from Capitol Hill or Columbia City after the light rail stops running. It wouldn’t be a fun ride going up those hills, but it would be a lot faster than walking, and cheaper than a cab.

        And if they do go with electric bikes, that would be even cooler (as long as they have enough power to really help you up the hills–e.g., a torque sensing mid-drive system over 350w with a 36v or 48v battery).

      5. @j-lon, +100, and that is really unfortunate about the helmet size, and it seems ridiculous that Pronto doesn’t use helmets that will fit nearly everyone.

        @Mike, I get that some people don’t like helmets or helmet laws, and so they’re not going to like them in conjunction with bikeshare either. I think j-lon’s comment, and my own experience, point out that _not_ having helmets (that fit!) is also a deterrent to bikeshare use.

        I had serious doubts about Pronto because of the helmet situation. I don’t like to ride a bike without one. If they weren’t clean, reliably available and free I doubt I would use Pronto much at all.

        I support helmet laws for roughly the same reasons as seat belt laws. I don’t really care if any tickets are handed out, so much as that it sets a norm and an expectation. And really, if we didn’t have a helmet law, I doubt the helmets would be clean and free. I understand some people don’t like it on principle, but for me I can live with it.

        As for the specifics, I’d love to hear from someone who actually uses Pronto that getting a helmet is really an inconvenience. I think even one minute overstates the time involved. There’s not really a check-our process. Just put in a 4 digit code to open the bin, grab a helmet, rip off the plastic, adjust the size if necessary and put it on. When you’re done, just toss it in the bin.

        Also, I would disagree that Pronto trips are safer and less in need of helmets. Particularly on trips from Capitol Hill to just about anywhere, you can build up a pretty good head of steam. I regularly pass cars going down Pine street, and definitely appreciate having a helmet when people open their parked car doors into the bike lane or make turns without signaling!

  7. In other transit news, about a hundred people attended this meeting: http://www.130thstation.org/blog

    People discussed what they wanted to see or not see around the station. This includes zoning changes (such as a new urban village around the station). This has been suggested by the city as part of the Seattle 2035 (http://2035.seattle.gov/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/NE-130-and-I5-sf-zones-and-expanded-UCUV.pdf). Folks from Sound Transit were there, as well as the city (planners who work on Seattle 2035). Both city council candidates for the districts were there, as well as a couple of candidates who lost in the primary (who helped with the volunteer effort). This is an all volunteer effort (no official input from any agency) so information about the meeting may take a little while to disseminate. But hopefully we will be able to get that information, as well as the time and date of the next meeting, out to people soon.

    1. Good work! But a couple typos on the “Take Action” page of your site:

      “not only out right” – should be “our.”

      “When the new of the possible 130th Street Light Rail Station started to grow we knew…” – should be “When the news of the possible 130th Street Light Rail Station started to be heard, we knew…” (“grow” sounds rather awkward – but at least, there should be a comma.)

    2. I would attend sometime if there’s more notice, and if it isn’t on the same day as a Metro or CT hearing.

      1. Folks handed out flyers, but that was just local. I mentioned it here, but I haven’t been able to get a response from people here I’ve emailed (I’m not sure if their email is gone). I suppose I could try a different email address.

        The conflict with the other meeting sucked. We planned our meeting before the county announced there meeting, and didn’t want to change (too much of a hassle to correct blog entries or hand out more fliers).

        We’ll try and get more publicity for the next meeting. As it was, getting around a hundred people for a meeting that conflicted with another meeting is great (especially when the other meeting concerned transit changes effecting the same area). A lot of people worked really hard on it, and they should be applauded. I didn’t do much — I basically helped fold chairs and eat cookies (I’m good at eating cookies).

    3. It was an interesting meeting.

      I was in the group who held a “I support 130th” sign up at the ST Board meeting. The last I had heard is that ST voted on making the 130th area level so the station could be built. Then I read that the 130th station was on the project for ST3. At the meeting I heard that 130th will happen, and while that is great news, until I see the design open houses you never know.

      1. Thanks. I think the station is basically like the Graham Street station. The big thing is that the rail line will be built so that a station can be added. When it is added is anyone’s guess. It might be that it is part of ST3, or it might not. It could also be added by the city. But it will eventually be built — I am confident of that.

      2. It all comes down to money. ST did not object to it in principal, and the entire city council (therefore all ST’s Seattle reps) strongly supported it and considered it top priority. The EIS has options for both NE 130th and 220th SW, although it says they haven’t been studied yet and would have to have an environmental study before doing anything else. The reason ST gave for not including it in ST2 was cost: it didn’t want to spend ST2’s reserves on more enhancements when ST3 was pending: it wanted to keep those reserves as a down payment on ST3. If ST3 includes the project, then the same money would go to it anyway, it’s just that the approval will be a couple years later. I believe there’s a good chance ST will be persuaded to include this low-cost, high-priority item in the ST3 North King project list.

      3. If this’s included in ST3, and it passes, would the station open at the same time as the rest of Lynnwood Link? Or would it be delayed until some time more similar to the rest of ST3?

      4. According to the meeting, as soon as 2023, which is when Lynnwood Link is scheduled. I have to agree with Ross – it is like the Graham St station.

        My point is to keep an eye on things and not declare victory. :)

      5. The timing depends on how long it would take to plan and build, and which part of the funding stream they want to assign to it (the first project or a later project).

      6. It all comes down to money. ST did not object to it in principal, and the entire city council (therefore all ST’s Seattle reps) strongly supported it and considered it top priority.

        Sorry, but that is not what I heard. The details are a bit fuzzy, but I remember talking with O’Brien, and he clearly said it was not about the money. I forget the reasoning, but I think he said that ST didn’t want to do it, unless they could show that it made the spine better. Again, that might not be fair to the other folks on the board, but I will swear that he said that Sound Transit said it wasn’t about the money. To suggest that NE 130th was a given — and it was only a matter of finding money under the cushions — is simply historically wrong. It is a disservice to folks like basselle and Renee Staton that worked their ass off to make this happen. To be clear, i agree with the second part — the Seattle part of ST always supported it. But they had to put convince the rest of the board, and by putting pressure on them (and the rest of the board) we made it happen.

        We aren’t talking about that much money here. That is why, like Graham Street Station, it could be paid for by Seattle proper (unlike, say, a multi-billion dollar light rail line). If ST said “Go ahead, build your station, but we won’t pay for it”, then lots of people wouldn’t have had to work so hard to make this happen. But that’s not how it went down.

        Of course, now it really is a matter of money. Sound Transit could easily slip it into ST3 (it would be a tiny fraction of the package) or Seattle could pay for it. But relative to Seattle’s budget, it is big money. Again, it is like Graham Street. Not hundreds of millions, but a few dozen million. The city would probably have to include it in a levy of some sort (like they are with Graham Street Station).

      7. I’m talking about near the final vote on the Lynnwood Link alignment. I don’t know who Basselle or Renee Stanton are or what they may have done before that to get it to that point. I’m going by what an ST staff told us during one of the STB meetups, the one I met you at.

      8. I think we are on the same page, but I just wanted to clarify a few things.

        baselle is the person whose comment you are commenting on (the one who carried signs to encourage Sound Transit to approve the station). Renee Staton has been involved in the issue for a very long time. She has written about it several times (http://www.theurbanist.org/2015/04/20/ne-130th-street-link-station-update/, http://www.pinehurstseattle.org/2015/02/02/help-us-build-a-ne-130th-st-station/, etc.). She organized the meeting and helped create the blog that I referenced.

        At some point (such as the point in time you mentioned) Sound Transit supported the station (obviously — since they approved it). But that support did not occur overnight — it took months of hard work by a lot of people. You may not have meant it, but your comment implied that the station was a given — just a matter of finding the money. Based on what I know (and this is from board members) that simply wasn’t the case. They could easily have hidden behind the misleading reports that showed very low expected numbers. If not for all the people who worked hard on the issue, that might have happened, and we would be wondering if we would ever get a station there.

        By the way, sorry about the messy comment. I swore I closed that italics block.

      9. I also worked on it. I put it in all my comments to ST and urged the city and county councils to support it and tried to get others to. 130th Station got far more support in the Lynnwood Link public feedback than any other issue except a 500-signature petition to keep Lynnwood Station away from Scriber Park.

        I think I also heard about a petition for 130th Station, but I didn’t hear about it until afterward so I couldn’t sign it. If there was a petition then somebody must have organized it, would that be baselle?

  8. Well written NYT article in which Seattle comes off as having a better approach to affordability than San Francisco. That’s not saying much, but it’s a start.

    1. Like all discussions in mainstream media around housing and rents, there’s doublespeak around the phrase “affordable housing”. The phrase ought to be use exclusively to refer to government subsidized housing, but it instead gets wrapped up in new constructions and high rents. It’s unfortunate, because it allows CM Sawant et. al. to score rhetorical points.

      1. Yeah, there’s no such thing you can build that’s “affordable housing”. That’s set by how much someone charges for the unit, which is generally set by the market or government policy. The real metrics should be how many units are built compared to the number of jobs added, the rent of the cheapest units, and the number of government subsidized units.

      2. The problem is the large gap between the income limit for subsidized housing (around $20K for one person) and the income required to match 3 times the market rate. ($54K for $1500 rent, if it’s a before-tax calculation ($1500 x 12 x 3)). The after-tax calculation is even worse: $5400 + ($5400 * 0.33) = $7182. So if you just go with “affordable housing” that leaves everyone making between $20,000 and $71,000 out. That’s all baristas, restaurant workers, janitors, school teachers in their first working decade, non-unionized office clerks, etc.

      3. Even if it’s $46K, what about the people making between $46K and $66K? I keep hearing about affordable housing, but nothing about the gap between the affordable cutoff and the comfortably off, where people are also being squeezed.

      4. @Mike I didn’t really have the stomach for engaging in another housing “discussion” in these pages, but still thought the basic information might be helpful for you, assuming you want to keep your comments as factual as possible.

        Of course most federal housing spending goes towards the most affluent people, but that’s a whole other can of wax. :)

      5. I didn’t mean to target you. I just get so frustrated that the in-between people get left out in the rush to provide affordable housing, because they’re suffering too.

      6. Thanks Mike. I actually agree with you that a broad range of people are struggling with housing costs, and that is part of the overall crisis. I think the real scandal is not the money we spend on housing assistance for the poorest, but on how much we spend for the most affluent. I think this graph illustrates this well. The data is from 2004, but I’ve no reason to think the distribution has changed substantially:


        I will also take this opportunity to put in a plug for Homestead Community Land Trust, a fantastic organization which makes home ownership permanently affordable for people roughly between 60 and 80% of median income.


        (full disclosure: I’m on the Homestead Board. All of my comments on STB are of course purely my own opinion, and not connected with or on behalf of Homestead.)

    2. That’s definitely damning with faint praise considering that San Francisco’s approach seems at actively harmful. In particular, just being better than SF doesn’t even get you to the presumably minimal acceptable bar of being better than nothing.

  9. 34 years ago, my first routes in service were part-time trippers out of East Base. All came into Seattle on SR 520. Transit lanes were essentially the right shoulder. Meaning everything entering or leaving the freeway was in my way.

    My first of five minor accidents, and of the four ruled non-preventable, resulted in a single shiny line along the right side of my trailer while avoiding a pickup truck angling across the shoulder rush-hour reserved for transit on 520.

    Out of North Base in later years, situation much worse. Diamond lanes in the center required a right-hand crossing of three lanes of traffic to make freeway flyer stops. Time was that thanks were in order for bringing service conditions up to 34 years out of date. In 2015, some things are an insult to the concept of time itself.

    Would be good if there’s still some point to point express service that doesn’t have to cross any lanes at all. Until Totem Lake setup is I-405 standard. Since they don’t count as lanes safe enough for passenger service, KCM and ST Express can use their buses and service hours elsewhere until their machines and passengers get an actual highway.

    Anybody who’s ok running transit on pull-off lanes designed for zero miles an hour-to-slow-crawling speed needs to buy their own insurance and attorneys’ fees.

    Mark Dublin

    1. As far as who’s ok running transit on pull-off lanes w/ zero miles per hour—Most of the Western Washington political structure.

  10. Based on what I have seen so far, the new Tillicum Crossing has significantly increased the amount of bike traffic in inner southeast Portland.

    It’s interesting how adding one key bit of transportation linkage that was lacking previously can have a dramatic effect.

    The bike counter this morning says so far this year 67,810 have crossed the bridge, and that doesn’t count pedestrian traffic.

    That pedestrian bridge over Interstate 5 to access Link is going to be in the same key link category, only somewhat less expensive.

    1. As I currently sit in a orange lr car I can attest to its significance to the city. I just wish the east side of the river was more developed. The streetcars appear to be fully utilized until one gets to the east side. I also notice a large number of seniors on lr and sc during off peak times, not something that ever stands out on buses.

      1. les,

        I just drove down 11th Avenue this morning — calm down, I had to deliver a honkin heavy multi-function laser printer from my church in Vancouver to “Printer Place” on Powell — and saw at least places with three cranes south of Belmont between MLK and Twelfth. It’s happening and I think it’s due in part to the streetcar.

        It’s too bad that there is no east-west arterial out to about 39th to have cars run out that way from the MLK/Grand corridor. They could use the Tillicum to go downtown. Direct service from the inner east side to SoWa, PCC and the arts district. the streetcars run pretty well south of Morrison/Belmont. It would be reasonably quick.

      2. “three places with cranes”.

        Frank, I know that if someone “signs up” with you as a Page 2 contributor that person gets a more powerful WordPress account that allows editing an existing post.

        Why can’t the hoi polloi have that too? The functionality is obviously available.

    2. Good point, Glenn. The popularity of that overpass depends on a bunch of things. First off, I think it will be reasonably popular no matter what they do. It is very difficult to get from one side to the other, and lots of people need to do that. The last sketches I saw, though, weren’t that promising from a pedestrian standpoint. To make those that approach it wind around is really bad. But I don’t even know if I read the diagrams right. But if i did, it adds a lot of distance for a pedestrian, which means that driving around sounds a lot more appealing.

      From a bike perspective, it looks fine. The big problem there is establishing good bike routes. Like a lot of Seattle, it is a challenge. In this case, the fairly flat plateau is “owned” by cars and buses. It isn’t clear how to rectify that. There is a lack of grid in the area, which is why people walk down the really crappy and busy streets. It would be great if you could just walk one street over — but between the mall and creek and all of the streets that don’t go through – it is a challenge. More can be done, and certainly more will be done, but I doubt it will look like Portland (not that I know how that part of Portland looks, but I can imagine).

      1. The place that seems to have had the most impact, from what i have seen, has been SE Clinton Street. This is a “bike boulevard”, which is a neighborhood street that is designed to be a bike throughfare, but has obstacles such as right turn only at a few intersections so that auto traffic can’t go through.

        Not that this prevents a few from trying to use SE Clinton as their own personal freeway alternative to SE Division (two blocks north) but for the most part it is understood that this is not a fast street for driving.

        So, having the bridge available would certainly be an advantage to that route.

        Now, if only something could be done on the west side of the bridge to make things a bit better in that mess, but maybe one day. The vacant lots along the Willamette won’t be vacant much longer.

  11. There’s this news roundup, along with 98 comments, and not one mention of president Obama’s visit to Seattle. Long story short, Obama’s flying into Boeing field tomorrow afternoon, and will leave tomorrow evening. So stay the night in Seattle if you don’t want to stay the night on the freeway.

    1. Harrumph.

      That particular man must not have seen some of the naked bike riders in the Fremont Solstice Festival.

  12. Hey since this is an open thread I’ve been meaning to ask a couple of tech questions.

    1) Sometimes I comment and forget to check the “notify me” box. Is there any easy way to do that later?
    2) Is there any way to skip having to confirm each thread you follow?
    3) Is their any description of what markup is available for comments?
    4) There was a “show new comments” link, but I haven’t seen it in a while. Does is still exist?


    1. Hi Ken,

      Some answers:

      1 & 2) follow up notifications are managed by WordPress.com here: https://subscribe.wordpress.com/ … You can add and remove threads there. We at STB don’t have any control over that feature. (though perhaps if you created a WordPress.com account you wouldn’t have to confirm your subscription? not sure.)
      3) I believe this is the list of supported tags: https://en.support.wordpress.com/code/
      4) That may have been before my time. You can always see the latest comments here: https://seattletransitblog.com/latest-comments/

      Hope that helps!

      1. Thanks Frank, I appreciate it!

        Regarding #1, I hadn’t been logging in to my WP account, but even when I do so I still only see options to unfollow an article, not to add one. A little Googling suggest that “subscribe without comment” is a standard feature of the WP comment plugin. Maybe you folks have disabled it, inadvertently or intentionally, or it’s for some reason not supported on the WP hosted site? Here’s one link, though there are lots of others:


      2. Oh, and one other thing. The latest comments link is perfect, but I can’t see that it’s linked from anywhere. It would be great if that link was somewhere where people can see/find it!

      3. Glad to hear it. The link to latest comments is one of the buttons under “stay in touch” in the right-hand sidebar. It’s obscure, but it’s a pretty obscure feature so it seemed right to keep it minimal. Perhaps too minimal.

      4. It’s the speach balloon button. If you are using the mobile device interface then you have to tap through the search window to get to the second multi-choice menu.

        It works ok once you find it, and once you computer / device has the latest comments URL recorded it will come up as something you can select when you enter Seattle Transit Blog into the URL bar.

        Or, you can save the latest comments link as a bookmark.

      5. I still can’t find an option to subscribe to a thread’s comments even through the WP interface. It may be there, but even so it seems like a much more natural and convenient place for this would be on the comments section itself. So I’m wondering whether the “subscribe without commenting” option is a) not desired, b) not available or c) not enabled?

        Thanks to your pointers, I now can find the latest comments link. Obscure is a good descriptor. Personally I think adding a little more visibility to comments might be a good thing, by adding a “recent comments” section like recent posts and recent page 2. I know of all these posts are the most important, but in some ways that listing is the least useful, because the posts are what you see starting from most recent when you go to the home page.

  13. Today’s UW Daily chooses to focus on the negative: “Six campus routes to be cut” instead of being supportive of all the new, much better options that will become available when Link starts next year. Go figure.

  14. I wrote a piece a while back about what I would like to see in ST3. I didn’t any comments for the first week or so, so I assumed that I wouldn’t get any. I got one, but now it appears that commenting is closed. So, without further ado, I will respond to this: https://seattletransitblog.com/2015/08/28/seattle-projects-for-st3/#comment-646408

    As I mentioned, the *station* at South Lake Union (proposed by the city) is not much better than the *station* proposed for WSTT at Belltown. Westlake and Denny is not in the heart of South Lake Union. It is fairly close to the Westlake station (which means that some of the riders close to that station are just as well off with at Westlake). It is close to the other station (that the WSTT has as well). In other words, a significant number of the people in the area (those to the south and west of the station) would be just as well off with the WSTT (and the current Westlake station). Meanwhile, you lose the Belltown station. Keep in mind, the WSTT South Lake Union station (on Aurora) will be extremely popular, because Aurora will have cross traffic now. Once Bertha is finished, frequent bus service will connect the heart of South Lake Union (e. g. Thomas) with lower Queen Anne. It is quite possible (since the streets don’t go through right now) that once the grid is connected, one of the streets is transit only (after all, there is no “taking”). Given the density, a bus could quickly move east/west. In other words, the fastest way for people to get to a South Lake Union destination will likely be to get off at the Aurora stop and hop on a bus.

    I could easily be persuaded if you were suggesting we build the Metro 8 Subway next. That not only would serve South Lake Union much better than either proposal, but it would serve the Central Area well (the biggest contiguous block of relatively high density housing in Seattle). It is hard to argue against that. Except that isn’t what is being proposed — we are going to do something for Ballard this go round. Furthermore, it stands to reason that if ST3 passes and contains a line from West Seattle to Ballard, the next step would be to build Ballard to UW light rail. This has already been studied — it is has been talked about for a very long time, and would probably be next. Which means that the Metro 8 subway gets pushed back even further.

    On the other hand, build what I propose and Ballard, West Seattle and Queen Anne are “set”. Maybe not quite as good for some as possible, but still a huge improvement. This clears the deck for the next step, which would be the Metro 8 subway.

    This is a logical ordering, given the political constraints. The combination (what I proposed and the Metro 8 subway) is a solid set of projects for Seattle, and probably the most cost effective thing we can build for the area. In other words, if we couldn’t go any further — if the tax payers finally say “enough already”, imagine this set of projects:

    * The WSTT
    * West Seattle BRT
    * Ballard to UW Subway
    * Metro 8 Subway

    I don’t see anything we could build in Seattle for that much money that would be better. Given that, building otherwise worthy projects just means we are building things out of order, and that is a very bad idea. We could easily end up with an inferior set of projects.

    1. West Seattle BRT=WSTT, however, West Seattle w/o WSTT≠West Seattle BRT. A few extra Rapid Ride runs w/o an expansion of the infrastructure does not a West Seattle BRT make. Longer and slow Bus conga lines on the 99N entrance pretty much for sure.

      1. I agree, but I don’t think anyone has argued otherwise. Seriously, I have never seen what you suggest. To my knowledge (and I have read a lot of comments) no one has ever said that West Seattle BRT could be built without the WSTT. As you implied, that is preposterous.

        I have argued for West Seattle BRT (https://seattletransitblog.com/2015/08/03/build-real-brt-for-west-seattle/). Right there, as the first action item, is the WSTT, where I state This [the WSTT] is essential for any BRT plan involving West Seattle.

        It is tempting to say the opposite of course. It is tempting to say that all West Seattle needs is the WSTT. While it would certainly make the lives of the average West Seattle transit rider much better, I don’t think it is enough. The freeway does get backed up. Work needs to be done for those trying to get into town in the morning. It isn’t bad coming back in the evening or bad any other time of day, but still, something should be done, and I explain that something in that post. Those changes are not that expensive — mere peanuts compared to adding a single station in West Seattle. But even more expensive changes (like building a new freeway bridge) would be a lot cheaper than light rail (since it could leverage the existing freeway and could operate at a different grade).

  15. Sorry for the typos. For the most part, what I said was clear, even if it wasn’t grammatically correct. I need to make a correction, though, in something I said that could be misconstrued:

    Given the density, a bus could quickly move east/west [in South Lake Union]

    What I meant to say was, given the density, a bus could quickly and frequently move east/west [in South Lake Union]

    I see no reason why a bus couldn’t go there every five minutes, if not every three. It is ripe for BRT. Hell, I am no fan of streetcars, but it would actually get decent numbers there (as would any bus service). With off board payment and level boarding (whether BRT or streetcar) there is no reason why a bus couldn’t go very fast, and thus very frequently. These are streets with very little traffic right now, because you literally can’t go across Aurora. So when the grid opens up, grab one street, put a frequent bus/streetcar on it, give it a lane, and even it runs every couple minutes, you aren’t going to get bus bunching. It helps that the line would be fairly short, too (Uptown to Cascade).

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