LimeBike at Amazon Domes, Seattle

This is an open thread

36 Replies to “News Roundup: Quadruple”

  1. Personally I don’t think parking should be required anywhere, but if frequent transit is the standard, the number 5 definitely does not qualify. It is through-routed with the 21, so their experience with the 5 is probably the same as mine with the 21: it is so infrequent, so unreliable, and so late all the time that it borders on being no transit service at all, and is not anywhere even close to being “frequent” transit by any rational measure. I’ve given up complaining to Metro about the 21, they do not care at all about how abysmally poorly performing these routes are.

    1. I’ll admit I use the 5 rarely, but my impression was the opposite. It qualifies as frequent transit in the sense that I don’t have to base my schedule around it, even in the middle of the day. I definitely check One Bus Away, but like other buses (such as the 41, which I ride a lot more) I don’t have to time it. This makes it different than, say, the 73. Even if the 73 is right on schedule, running a bus every half hour means I need to know when it runs before I leave the house.

    2. They care; they just don’t have extra buses and drivers to address it, or a budget to hire such. And when the problem is car traffic; it really requires an SFOT solution. If there are no transit/BAT lanes and congestion or an accident occurs, the buses can’t get through it until it clears. This delays the first bus until the second bus comes, and then the buses are bunched and arrive at the same time. Routes are more reliable if they don’t cross a bridge or downtown, but it’s random luck what kind of route you’re neat.

    3. The 21X isn’t bad during rush hours outside of the occasional driver no show, however, my experience using the 21 local during the evenings is that the arrival times are very spotty, which is why I tend to drive to Mariner night games rather than take the bus since it tries my patients way too much.

      Hopefully when light rail is operational in West Seattle, buses like the 21 become shuttles and have much more arrival dependability.

  2. So far bikeshare looks very promising. I hope both companies can stay financially viable.

    My only nit-pick is with the haphazard, sometimes discourteous parking jobs I’ve seen. Across sidewalks, at bus stops (cool if nearby, annoying if blocking the back door), left randomly along the Burke, in front of building entrances, etc. If you have a vision or mobility issue they can easily become hazard.

    Hopefully riders will get more aware as the system expands. It takes 30 seconds to park the bike in a better spot. There are always better spots.

    1. These bikes will be littering the bottom of our various bodies of water within a few months. Parts will be scattered and piled on the sides of streets. We’ll start seeing improvised lime green bikes all over the state. I think they’re a great idea but I’m concerned about how they plan on dealing with this:

      1. Solid simple bikes without extra gears, coaster brake- like my dad used to bring home from bargain shopping at Maxwell Street, greatest bazaar outside the Middle East or Ulan Bator Mongolia.

        Might need to make them out of aluminum or fiberglass tubing so, unlike my own red machine with a racing rear tire and a balloon front one, it can be loaded on a bus bike rack.

        Disposable seats to be hauled away and repaired after the bin containing the day’s returned and dumped bikes is emptied. Riders can get into another bin for next day’s bike for a dollar.

        Repair crew can be kids starting at five years old who want to be bike mechanics If bins are placed along a beach or at LINK stations, easier to dump the bike into the bin than the Sound.

        Mark (Former Child That Got a Lot of Rides on the Chicago El)

      2. No translation needed lol. I was thinking it could become a thing to find the strangest, coolest, or most ironic places to leave a bike.

        If it doesn’t become a serious problem, then it’s just free advertising. Someone should leave one of those on top the Space Needle. Maybe it’d get the news to do a story on the new bikeshares.

      3. @barman,

        Well I hope the plan to deal with things like that is to find the offending party and throw them in jail. What kind of a society do we live in where vandalism is the fault of the thing being vandalized and not the fault of the person doing the vandalizing?

  3. Regarding cars:

    “A lot of folks can afford to own a car for convenience and weekend getaways more than out of true necessity.”

    Yes. This. I want to live in a place where I can walk to work, walk to the grocery store, bike to a coffee shop, and generally be carless most of the time. But part of living here is having access to extremely remote wilderness. Access to a sparsely populated coastline. Access to deserts and rainforests and beaches. Buses don’t go to these places. I wouldn’t ever choose to give up that access. What’s the cost of owning and maintaining a 10-year-old car that gets the job done? Pretty minimal, especially compared to the hassle of getting a Zipcar or rental car on a weekend, when all of the car rental offices in the cities and suburbs (not the overpriced airport) are closed! And, if I did choose to forego access to our amazing outdoor wilderness that can’t be reached by transit? I am not sure why I would be paying a premium to live here – might as well live in Detroit, Cleveland, or Pittsburgh. The cost of living there is much less than here, and, quite frankly, a city is a city is a city is a city. Our remote areas are what make the PNW special.

    1. I agree. I also think focusing on car ownership is misguided. It is better to focus on car usage. How many miles per person per day does a typical Seattle resident drive. If that number isn’t going down, then I would be surprised (and we should look at why).

    2. If you are parking off-street, then it’s all good. But if you are parking your car on a public street for free, then there is a societal cost from you consuming public space with a car that is only driven once a week.

      One of the biggest objections to density in SF zones is lack of parking. Even if people live car-light, if they still think they are entitled to park their car for free on the street, Seattle will struggle to densify its suburban areas. We devote a massive amount of space for car storage for people who use their cars pretty infrequently.

    3. Engineer, I agree, it would be great if we could walk where we need to go, wouldn’t it?

      But be careful, many commenters on this blog are opposed to the idea! :)

      1. Literally nobody on this blog is opposed to the idea that it’s good if people can walk where they need to go. Most people think it’s also good for people to have options beyond what’s within walking distance, for goods and services, for jobs, for recreation and socializing, etc.

    4. This is anecdotal but from what I’ve seen a lot of people are moving here from places where not having a car is unimaginable. They bring their cars because they assume they’ll need one. After it becomes obvious that having a car in the city isn’t as cheap or convenient as they thought, they’ll be selling them.

      Personally I wouldn’t have a car in the city unless I had a free parking space. I also cannot imagine the nightmare of driving into downtown every day during rush hour, I don’t know why anyone willingly chooses to do that.

    5. I hear you. My car is also useful to carry large/heavy stuff and to visit family & friends easily. Even though I am in a transit/walking area, not all of them are.

      My peak-commute miles are really low since I use the bus to get to work. I do a lot of night driving (cruising across 520 late is almost surreal) and on weekends, when traffic is almost as bad as peak commute hours

      Incidentally, Pittsburgh is actually pretty nice if you can tolerate the climate. Not the same natural scenery, but plenty of things to do outside the city.

    6. In the summertime, I loan my car to my parents (they spend their summers in Vancouver, BC) and get by through zipcars one way, the various car and ride sharing services during the week (I take the bus to/from work).

      I rent a car from Enterprise (bummer they haven’t started the 9.99 weekend rate yet) to get out of the city on weekends. I can see an air BnB for weekend cars becoming more prevalent in future years.

    7. Studies have shown that lower car ownership ratios are the most effective path to lower vehicle-miles-traveled (VMT). In most of the world’s great cities, a large fraction of the population does not own a personal car. The current situation in Seattle (where owning a seldom-used old car is cost-effective and more convenient than alternatives) is due to public policies, which can be changed.

      What if annual car registration fees were $3000, with required maintenance inspections?

      What if residential on-street parking passes were $100/month, citywide?

      What if short-term car rentals were sales tax exempt?

      What if the car sharing fleet was ten times as large?

      1. Fuel prices are massively higher in most developed countries. If gas was $7/gallon I think VMT would drop dramatically.

        Base sales tax on car rentals is not so bad IMO. Almost every non-grocery food form of consumption in Washington is taxed. I don’t see rental cars to be worthy of a tax exemption. However, the extra 7.7% rental car tax distorts the market.

    8. I thought that was the point of Flexcar and Car2Go for when you want to go to the mountains, etc.

      1. That seem wrong. Taking a share car out to the woods and parking it all day would defeat the point of multiple people being able to use the car in one day.

      2. We took a Zipcar to Ocean Shores two summers ago at the weekend rate. It was fine and it seems like a good way to go. One thing to watch for is the maximum miles per day or you get a surcharge. don’t remember what the number was, something like 75 or 150, not enough to go to Spokane. Wew went down via Olympia and Aberdeen, and stayed overnight in Aberdeen. It seemed like we must have gone over but we didn’t get a surcharge. We’ve talked about taking a Zipcar to the MMA fights in Arlington but I don’t think we did, I think the last time we too my roommate’s van when it was on its last legs (and got rid of it after that rather than putting a new engine into it).

      3. @Ian, if you’re paying for it all day, why not?

        (And you would be, since you’re presumably taking it outside the home area.)

      1. FWIW the other 9 months of the year enterprise practically gives away their cars on weekends especially if you go to a non airport or non downtown location

    9. With the advent of ReachNow/Car2Go, finding a car to drive into the mountains really isn’t that big of a deal – there’s nearly always one within a 10 minute walk of nearly everywhere in Seattle. But there are other dynamics at play. The cost is expensive, and more noticeable than the cost of driving a personal car.

      There’s also the fact that outdoor recreation is usually done in groups, and someone in the group nearly always has a car, and it’s always going to be much cheaper to take that person’s personal car than for you to drive him in a rental car. Yes, you do get to the trails. But you still feel dependent on the friend and his car, which may be awkward.

      Also worth noting that any trailhead that involves driving on dirt roads to get to is technically prohibited in the fine print of almost any car rental contract, even though lots of people do it anyway (e.g. I’ve seen Zipcars parked at Mowich Lake).

  4. .Anything requiring anything from Federal Government, just do whatever we can with what we’ve got, and be ready to hit the ground running, well trackbuilding and catenary-stringing when chance comes.

    On the line to Joint Base Lewis McCord right now to see if fury, like nitroglycerin, can be adjusted to civilian use. Though also what’ll happen if a tanker-load of fury collides with a fish truck at I-90 and I-5 at rush hour. One lane at rush hour on I-5 should blast us an HR tunnel to San Diego,

    Though if this is really an arms race for superiority with spoiled kimchi, Seattle will be uninhabitable for long enough to get traffic down to where we can get reserved lanes. Though in Washington DC nowadays, aroma will be considered an improvement sweeter than cherry blossoms.

    .Tempting to leave jaywalking to civil courts and personal injury lawyers, except we’ll run out of lethal injection drug because of defendants begging for the death penalty instead. But walking into the side of a LINK train while texting with head phones should require cleaning yourself off the side of the car.

    .Since carlessness requires end of traffic jams caused by cars, serious about high speed clearing of transit only gravel lanes alongside I-5 Most of world already does this with buses going 70. Also paving tracks from Lakewood south with grooved rail for joint use. Except no fareboxes. Olympia Lacey only ten minutes south.

    Blaming distracted driving on cell-phones, except ones with touch screens and apps, has fingerprints of Citizens’ United. Unlike buttons and knobs, which can be operated without looking, touch screens require eyes on the screen to block Washington DC news before it hits the brain. Resulting legal suicide exhausts supplies to the execution-drug industry.

    .Replace everything electronic on steel wheels and their signals with Chicago ‘El and PCC streetcar parts from the 1950’s, and computer problems shouldn’t last a minute in Seattle. Combined smell of ozone, melting trackside tar roofs and platform boards, and eggs frying on sidewalks indicate best minimum operating temperatures.

    Have read that Depression is Learned Helplessness. Will be on the WASL when Washington State Legislature runs out of prozac.


  5. For photo enforcement of bus lanes, is there any way this could be combined with Ferry Holding lanes? Seems like it would be an easy way to get some votes from areas of the state that otherwise may be indifferent to what they consider a Seattle only problem.

  6. About daily parking rates:
    In my current situation, I have to drive to work 2 days a week due to after-work commitments that timing-wise, wouldn’t work if I didn’t have a car. Since I both live and work within 1/2 a mile of Link you’d naturally assume that I take that to work the remaining 3 days. But the parking pricing scheme at my office prevents me from doing so. It all comes down to economics.
    I currently pay for parking monthly at $160/mo, which works out to just less than $37 per week*. If I dropped the monthly parking and just paid the daily rate of $22.50 on the two days I need a car, I would be out the $45, plus the cost riding Link on the other three. Total: $60/week*.

    The economic incentive is so skewed to paying the monthly rate that anything else doesn’t make sense.

    *yes, this doesn’t take into consideration the cost of fuel on the 3 days in question, but I use 1/3 of a gallon going the 8-miles round trip each day, so we’re only talking an additional $3 each week.

    1. It’s worth asking where, exactly, your going after work that requires a car, and whether there exists a cheaper alternative. For instance, if the bus is only a problem on the way back, could bus one way and Uber/Lyft/Car2Go the other way be an option? Or, perhaps some combination of Link and bike share?

      Or, on the two days a week you do drive, is it possible to find a cheaper parking space by walking a few blocks? Or, perhaps, a free street spot outside of town that is both a quick bus ride from downtown and a quick drive to the site of your evening activity.

    1. That’s a bummer. I would like to know more about what happened. That’s the only comment I have on it.

  7. I tried out Obike in Singpore. It’s similar to Spin and Limebike, though the bikes are single-speed only. Prices are normally 0.50 Singapore dollars (about $US 0.40) per 15 minutes. There are 20,000 bikes in an area about twice the size of the Seattle city limits, which means you are rarely more than a block away from a bike. Obike, a local Singapore startup, has two Chinese competitors: Mobike and Ofo, which both have about 10,000 bikes too.

    While the bikes are low-quality, they are fine for getting around this city, if you stay away from the hills in some of the outlying areas. As a visitor, it’s great to be able to rent a bike for a just a couple of dollars a day and take one-way trips, using the MRT subway and buses when needed. I did have to pay a $US 40.00 deposit, but it’s refundable when we leave.

    I’m not sure if these guys are all going to make money, but they have attracted billions of dollars of investment (mainly in China), so someone believes this will be very profitable!

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