Route 410 at Westlake Park

This is an open thread

Route 401 at Westlake Park by SounderBruce, STB Flickr Pool

58 Replies to “News Roundup: Expensive Bike Lanes”

  1. There is a portion of bicycle riders who feel that they are privileged and that the traffic laws and rules of the road don’t apply to them and I saw another good example of that on Thursday morning.

    I was on a southbound # 372 heading for Campus Parkway and the bus had turned up Pend Oreille Road from 25th Ave NE when it came to the Burke-Gillman Trail where they are stop signs on the trail for bike riders. As there was nobody on the trail the bus continued on and all of a sudden a bike rider without even slowing down cut right in front the bus and the driver had to slam on the brakes to avoid hitting her.

    The driver hit the horn but that didn’t even phase her as her whole body language said that I am a bike rider and I am privileged and I don’t have to obey those stop signs. If the bus driver had not slammed the brakes he would have hit her and then were would the wailing from the bicycle lobby how terrible an accident it was but it would have been her fault.

    It is incidents like this and others where bike riders ignore the traffic laws and rules of the road why other people have such a resentment of bike riders. I know that this is a minority of bike riders but unfortunately like in other situations it does leave an image that reflects on other bike riders who do follow the rules of the road and obey the traffic laws.

    1. I feel the same way about motor vehicle drivers, after all, they are responsible for nearly all of the road fatalities in the US (40,000+ fatalities last year alone). Speeding, not signalling, running stop signs, threatening pedestrians and cyclists with 4,000+lb machines, making our neighborhood streets unsafe, etc.

      1. The difference is that automobile rules are generally enforced and there can be consequences for not following the rules. I get frustrated when they don’t follow the rules because I don’t want to hit a bike. Predictability makes for safety when bikes and cars share the road. Just because “no one is coming” doesn’t mean you should run red lights. When cars do this they get a ticket. When bikes do this, there’s a lot of excuses from bicyclists why it’s ok. The sanctimoniousness of bicyclists can be astounding.

        My personal beef with bicyclists is actually as a pedestrian. So many close calls with bikes running red lights while I’m trying to go through crosswalks, and bolting down the sidewalk (which is legal but they are supposed to yield to peds). They just never seem to pay attention to peds and aren’t even apologetic like most drivers when they cut you off. And guess what, bikes may not be as heavy as cars, but they still can cause serious injuries when they hit pedestrians.

        There is a significant minority of entitled jerk bicyclists, just like car drivers. Maybe it’s just that people are jerks and it doesn’t matter what mode of transportation they are in.

      2. The difference is that automobile rules are generally enforced…

        Citation please. I’ve seen drivers commit the most dangerous infractions, including almost running over pedestrians with right-of-way, in plain sight of SPD, who proceeded to do absolutely nothing. There is zero enforcement of traffic laws in Seattle these days, whether car, bike or pedestrian.

      3. @RapidRider

        What I mean meant by “The difference is that automobile rules are generally enforced…” is that cars at least are sometimes cited by police when they make a traffic violation. When was the last time a bike got a ticket for riding the wrong way down the street (see it all the time), riding the wrong way in the bike lane (also common), running red lights? I’m sure somewhere it has happened, but in general bicyclists’ traffic violations are ignored.

        You make a good point about no traffic laws being enforced in Seattle for any mode though.

        I’m definitely not going to argue there aren’t a lot of crappy drivers who aren’t paying attention, because there are. But bicyclists spend a lot of time complaining about “sharing the road” but part of that means working with an agreed set of traffic rules…

      4. Automobile laws are actually enforced? I challenge you to record a ten minute time lapse clip at a busy intersection of your choosing and post it as a STB guest post. The evidence should speak for itself.

      5. @Brad:

        I have one friend given a ticket for failure to stop at a stop sign and another friend for failure to stop at a pedestrian light. I also witnessed the documented event, a few summers ago, where a cop was camping out in the Westlake parking lot (pre-cycle track), giving cyclists tickets for going the wrong way down a certain section of the parking lot and reportedly failure to wear a helmet.

        I can’t remember the last time I witnessed a car getting pulled over in the City of Seattle. I’m sure it happens. I got a warning about 15 years ago for failure to yield to an SPD cop while turning left

        So yes, there are selfish pricks on bikes, just as there are selfish pricks in cars and on foot. But you can’t say that bikes get tickets at a less rate than cars until you give some factual evidence, because anecdotal evidence says otherwise.

    2. First of all I wish that cyclist hadn’t done that as it just makes everyone frustrated with cyclists in general.

      But there’s an awful lot of attitude in the statement “but that didn’t even phase her as her whole body language said that I am a bike rider and I am privileged and I don’t have to obey those stop signs”. I’m curious if you know this to be true from your seat on the bus or if you’re just projecting your general hatred of bicyclists into that statement.

      1. She didn’t react at all to the fact that she ran the stop signs and almost got hit by the bus and comments from other riders on the bus said the same thing. She just speeded through the intersection.I don’t hate bike riders but I do get frustrated when I see incidents like this.

        The same in the afternoon when I am waiting for the # 372 to go home on Stevens Way and bike riders don’t stop or slow down for pedestrian’s in the cross walk. It doesn’t happen that often but it does happen.

        Bike riders want equal treatment when they are on the road and they should but at the same time they need to obey the traffic laws and rules of the road. Again it is a small minority who don’t but it does reflect on the rest of the bike riders.

      2. As a cyclist, I don’t want equal treatment, because that would be unfair. Someone operating a 4,000lb+ machine capable of 100+mph speeds absolutely needs to operate that vehicle with a higher level of care, and should be punished to a greater level when committing infractions, because the repercussions of dangerous driving are so much more severe. In extremely rare cases, cyclists have caused injury and/or death to other road users, but these events are essentially a statistical anomaly when compared to the mass carnage that automobile operators commit every year. 40,000+ dead, 100,000+ with life-altering injuries. Every year. Every. Year.

      3. As already mentioned here, bicyclists can be very annoying, but they’re not causing the equivalent of two Las Vegas massacres every single day.

      4. By the way, the word for which the author is looking is “faze” not “phase”, unless of course the Dilithium Crystals are overheating again.

    3. As someone who cycles 500+ miles in Seattle every month, I have to say that drivers – those who have the power to kill – are the most frequent scofflaws. An alarming amount of drivers are looking at their phones, smoking, eating, or otherwise not holding up their responsibility to other road users. I come to full stops whenever there are others approaching at stop signs. More than half of drivers do not stop and do not signal. These people can kill me in the blink of an eye. Why don’t we just rip out the roads because of these scofflaws? That’s the attitude you’re taking if you don’t think we need more safe cycling infrastructure.

      I’m sorry that cyclist scared you. I will stop longer at that crossing for you to make up for it.

    4. At 41st & University Way I’m on a northbound 45 that just left the stop, and during the stop a car and two cars and a truck passed us in spite of the double yellow line, on a narrow two-lane road. Good thing the southbound car and bicyclist didn’t come at those moments.

      1. Yearly license renewal- for both modes-should include at least a half hour ride with skilled State Police instructor. Who would then issue either a license to drive or ride, or a fully paid yearly transit pass good on any system in the country (One providing immunity from being fined for a mistaken-tap slap anywhere.)

        Because for both modes, I think large percentage of accidents happen because somebody doesn’t know how to control their own set of wheels.

        Mark Dublin

    5. This is partially due to poor design considerations, like many bad highway intersections. To put the stop sign on what is effectively a highway carrying more traffic than most of those side streets is just stupid and asking for violations. You wouldn’t put a stop sign on a busy highway and expect compliance, you put the stop signs on the side streets instead! In many cases, the stop sign for bikes is on a downslope, anyone who has ever ridden a bike can tell you why not to do this! Just like with car rules, bicycling rules need to account for the actual on-the-ground use of the corridor by human users.

      1. Where are you talking about? Pend Orielle Road isn’t a highway. And the trail is flat; it’s the road that’s steep.

    6. As a frequent Burke user on my bike, I’ve been yelled at by fellow cyclists for slowing down too much at that stop sign. Presumably I’m ruining their Tour de Burke record attempt. (Also get yelled at by drivers for stopping at stop signs in the street – can’t win on that one, go figure…)

      Not sure exactly why this isn’t a yield sign, though. There are some yields on other parts of the trail. Yield is ideal for cyclists – we can slow down and prepare to stop but if no cars are coming, we don’t need to get to a complete stop. Maybe the vehicle volumes, the angle of the road, or the slope make it not a yield sign situation.

      1. Alex, my own pet hate (it’s got both rabies and distemper) is being tailgated ten miles an hour over the limit.

        So. If the highway patrol can’t afford work-hours to enforce the limits, limit number of instructors for the fully-justified mandatory training to three state-wide.

        Keeping violators waiting in line where they can’t kill anybody to get their licenses back. Freeing up the rest of the force to get more so-called drivers off the highways and into the lines.

        Mark

    7. There is an interesting article about bike lanes on the bike blog (https://www.seattlebikeblog.com/2018/05/23/bike-lanes-are-for-cars/). It raises a very interesting thought experiment. Assume that I rode my bike at 10 MPH down the middle of the lane on a busy street (e. g. Lake City Way). That is perfectly legal. What are the chances that I could do that for a couple miles before someone would do something illegal and dangerous?

      Now consider how often we see a biker doing something illegal and dangerous? It is rare because most bikers aren’t idiots. They might break the law (just as all New Yorkers jaywalk) but it is rare for them to endanger their own life on purpose. On the other hand, it is pretty easy to imagine how the opposite could happen with only one, imaginary trip.

      1. Oops, I guess I should have read the original article instead of the comments first. I ended up referencing something that Frank already referenced. Either way, though, I think the author made a very good point.

  2. Does ST have any plans to bring the reverse peak frequency of route 550 on par with the peak direction? At peak, 550 eases up to 5 minute headways, where the max frequency of reverse peak is 10 minutes (which is the case for less than one hour in the morning!)

    There is a really big capacity problem in the reverse peak at 10 minutes. Because of the degree to which it is full, most stops on this so-called express route is a multi – minute ordeal of shuffling around passengers and constant calls to move to the back.

    Is this issue on ST’s short term planning agenda? It would be so dumb if nothing gets done about this until 2023 when east Link opens.

    1. It all comes down to sub-area equity. As long as the 550 is paid for entirely by the East King subarea, ST won’t be willing to add reverse direction trips, which primarily benefit people who live in the North King subarea (the fact that these people *work* in the East King subarea doesn’t matter – it’s where they live that counts).

      Once the 550 is replaced by Link, the peak frequency and the reverse frequency will likely have to be equal, since every train that travels one way has no choice except to go back the other way. With buses, this is not the case, as many peak-direction runs are just going from East Base to downtown Bellevue, to downtown Seattle, then immediately back to base again.

      1. “many peak-direction runs are just going from East Base to downtown Bellevue, to downtown Seattle, then immediately back to base again.”

        That’s the really dumb thing about this. They deadhead back to Bellevue anyway. These peak trips are really expensive (possibly one part-time for single trips), whereas sending these peak trips the other way on the way back (or vice versa) takes a little bit longer, but you wouldn’t have to hire a new part-time employee for this.

      2. I don’t know if it’s really subares equity. Are you sure the reverse commute has as many riders as the traditional commute? ST has repeatedly increased peak frequency on the 550, so I assume it would increase reverse-peak frequency too if demand were the same.

        It could also have to do with limited space in the DSTT, and the fact that ST would have to pay a greater share of the DSTT’s debt if it runs more vehicles in it relative to Metro.

      3. I’m not saying that reverse peak necessarily has as many riders as forward peak. But I am saying that this is closer to being the case than ever. Bellevue used to be predominantly a bedroom community and has become a job center over the years. But Sound Transit seems slow to react to that change.

    2. Excellent question about Route 550 reverse peak direction trips. If may be just inertia and cheapness (spending as little as possible on bus). If it were subarea equity, why would routes 555 and 556 continue to serve Northgate? Perhaps they should be reoriented to South Lake Union via UW Link and the I-5 reversible lanes. What Seattle urban center has more employment by Eastsiders?

    3. A really quick and easy solution would be to have all deadheading peak 550s become a faster Bellevue express via SR520. Add a stop at the 520 freeway stations which take very little time, a single stop at Bellevue TC, and then out of service for the last two miles to the base. Put the warranty free (bus may arrive early) asterisk in the schedule, and you have an almost free reverse peak express to Bellevue in the morning and Seattle in the evening. It doesn’t improve frequency on the 550 but it’s really not the frequency itself that’s the big problem, it’s the capacity.

  3. Portland Streetcar had a not so good day yesterday with one of the cars winding up derailed across all northbound lanes of Highway 99E.

    Certain articles indicate the streetcar caused the accident by derailing first, but the 5th photo down on the photo collection in the first link (above paragraph) looks like the accident started on the highway side quite far south of where the streetcar wound up. All four lanes here are northbound 99E, and the Audi in the photo is actually facing the wrong direction. It is difficult for me to imagine the streetcar getting derailed this far south, then continuing north as far as it did before winding up stranded across all lanes of traffic.

    1. From the pictures, it seems obvious that the white utility pickup T-boned the streetcar at a fairly high rate of speed. You can see damage on the right side of the streetcar, which would be consistent with an impact that would push it off the tracks and come to rest where the pictures show. I think the Audi was hit as the streetcar derailed.

      The Oregonlive article should be retracted. The headline and article are incredibly misleading, but I guess I shouldn’t expect better from that garbage newspaper.

    2. From the comments on the article:
      “This headline and article are misleading. An inappropriately parked truck got caught by the street car, causing the truck to be pulled into other cars and derailing the street car. That Truck’s owner is 100% at fault, not the street car. Learn to park people!”

  4. So…Seattle’s population growth, while still at a high clip, is decreasing in magnitude. The >3% rate is the marker of crazy-fast growth, and we’ve pulled back from that, and pulled back markedly from the previous year’s rate. I wonder whether this is due to less employment forcings (i.e. big tech companies and other companies are choosing to hire at a lower rate), or if the housing shortage has now reached a point where it is the main limiting factor for how many people can live here.

    Given that South Lake Union apartment buildings are having to give 2 months of free rent in order to get renters to sign a 12-month lease, my money is that a slowdown of high-wage hires is at least a major part of the reason our population growth is curbed. However, there is probably also a not-insignificant number of people leaving the city as they’re priced out, which is a direct effect of a shortage in housing units.

    1. Those apartment managers desperately don’t want to reduce rents. I met a few Amazonians recently and was shocked to find out that they all live further away and all drive alone to work. They don’t want to live “too close” to the office. Also, Amazon subsidizes parking, but that doesn’t help if you choose to pay higher rent in order to be able to walk to work.

      Seems like a perverse incentive to me. Maybe Amazon wants its workers to work longer hours and not worry about catching the last bus? Or “work late” to avoid the traffic?

      1. Please give me one single street address within walking distance of South Lake Union where Jeff Bezos himself can afford to live.

        Mark

      2. Mark, I don’t think it’s a logical stretch to say that most office workers at Amazon can afford SLU rents.

    2. A lot of new buildings opened all at once this year, so it takes several months to fill them. I think SLU is one of the centerpoints of that phenomenon. So it’s both a relaxation of job growth and housing units starting to catch up to it. My southwest Capitol Hill apartment is increasing by “only” 5% in July.

      “or if the housing shortage has now reached a point where it is the main limiting factor for how many people can live here”

      I’m not sure how you can measure that. Price pressure is based on the number of people competing for a unit. It’s possible that more people are discouraged and not looking in Seattle, or companies are choosing to locate outside Seattle or outside the region. But how do we know what they would have done otherwise? What do we compare it to?

      I like to think Martin’s theory is right, that if we zoned for a million plus people, we could comfortably absorb another company like Amazon and then some without prices rising. We could easily fit that many people if we zoned like Chicago, because we have a somewhat lower population than San Francisco (850K) but twice as much land. But we’d need a city where that happened to compare it to, and the only ones with major upzones are those that were already densely zoned in WWII.

    3. Many people don’t want to live next to work, or they find the SLU neighborhood sterile. Or their children are on school elsewhere or they own a house elsewhere, or their job changes frequently.

      1. Thanks for the chance to bring this up, Mike. Because one of my main goals for fast and convenient regional transit is to give people as wide a choice as possible as to where they can work, live, and go to school.

        Including the need to rearrange or change all these things on very short notice. Hence my permanent dislike for concept of “subareas.” More and more, that’s not the way we live our lives anymore.

        Would make more sense to arrange our service area by corridors.

        Mark

    4. Landlords always offer sales before they lower the rent. A free month or a free TV is a one-time thing that has no relevance at the end of the lease, but 10% off or a lower rent (however it’s worded) set the baseline for future years, because the next rent will be relative to that point, and the rent will be reported to those rent-tracking companies and lower the city average, which will make it harder to increase the rent next year.

  5. With respect to the article about pollution and bikes, sometimes I wonder how much extra pollution transit riders are exposed to by waiting at bus stops. I’m particularly thinking of the bus stops along 3rd Ave., where you’re likely to watch several diesel-powered buses go by, all accelerating from a stop at the specific point along the road where you’re standing, before seeing the one bus that goes where you’re trying to get to.

    1. The places I have the most concern about are the freeway stops. Any article about the subject I have seen indicate that within 1/4 mile of freeways have measurable increased risk of various diseases and other medical issues. Things like the freeway median Chicago “L” stations, the MAX stations along I-84 and I-205, and the various Community Transit stops in the median of I-5 can’t be good for the health of those that wind up waiting at them every day.

      1. Glenn, how about not only shelters with radiant heaters on every zone, but also something like a news-stand combined with a cafe? With bathrooms?

        Mark

  6. The article itself is flawed and you would think someone getting their Ph.d in the subject matter would quote various research and studies already available.

    Professor Gavin Shaddick of the University of Bath explained: “Being in a car is not like being in a sealed box.

    “Winding up your windows may give you the perception that the air isn’t coming through the windows and that you might have reduced your exposure to air pollution, but the intakes for the car’s air system are at the front of the car. And the problem is, they’re generally at the level of the exhaust pipe of the car in front of you.”

    What we really should be worried about is our children and elderly living and going to schools along busy arterial roads and highways where they are stuck in classrooms and playgrounds with high exposure to emissions and don’t have the option to “ride the Burke Gilman Trail” or only go to school on low emission days.

    https://www.publicintegrity.org/2017/02/17/20716/invisible-hazard-afflicting-thousands-schools

    1. And if you have your car’s climate system on recycle? I’ve always done that when driving in traffic.

      1. What’s in your car is almost as bad as what’s outside…

        “The airborne chemicals in new cars can vary from model to model and year to year. The nonprofit Ecology Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan, has measured chemicals inside hundreds of carmodels. Among the 300 chemicals it has identified are brominated flame retardants and polyvinyl chloride from plasticizers, which are both associated with many health problems. Some carmakers have reduced the use of toxic chemicals since 2006. The new-car smell might take a while to dissipate, according to work from Japan’s Osaka Institute of Public Health, showing that it took some four months for high levels of VOCs (35 times the maximum health limit set in Japan) to drop below that threshold. But even up to three years later, if the car heated up on a sunny day, the levels shot back up.”

        http://www.berkeleywellness.com/healthy-community/environmental-health/article/pollution-inside-your-car

      2. One of the reasons I never buy new cars. I’ve never owned a car younger than 3 years old.

  7. Was surprised so much $’s went to reconfiguring water drainage to keep the bike lane dry. While this is a nice thought, it certainly does not seem to warrant how the massive increase in cost. Is the city afraid it will be sued if someone slips in wet conditions, or are planters just that tone deaf towards cost?

    1. Was it to keep the bike lane dry, or to maintain flow to the drains? I expect that grates can be raised cheaply (often done when blacktop is added rather than replaced), but the streets would no longer drain into them.

      In Copenhagen, many bike lanes are curb-separated at an intermediate height between the street and the sidewalk. Minimal use of large barriers, and probably easier to clean too – does Seattle have any street sweepers sized for bike lanes?

    2. Two opinions:

      1. Bicycle lanes that aren’t properly drained will fall into disrepair in only a few years. It’s important to build them right for the sake of life cycle investments. Encouraging cheap construction seems not very wise for any long-term transportation investment.

      2. Separated bicycle facilities really should be the preferred approach. Putting down bicycle lanes next to cars on pavement doesn’t appear that safe, especially when parking spaces are on the outside of the bicycle lane. It even seems to give a false sense of security which could make bicycling more dangerous. It seems especially true on downhill segments where bicyclists travel at car speeds.

      Are there studies to validate or repudiate my opinions?

  8. AlexKven, I think you’ve identified a couple of things every rush hour route should have, especially 550 and 41. Instruct drivers how issue requests politely over the PA- which nobody is presently trained to use, and fewer bother to learn.

    And at least for rush hour- pretend we’re in Estonia. And for rest of the clock, pretend we’re a business that always gives customers little freebies out of the marketing budget. And have other businesses pay us for advertising on our passes.

    Nothing free here. We’ve got a budget for our own ads. Firms whose ads appear on our tickets also pay us. And best of all, money we save on delayed service- especially on the 41 at outbound rush- would give us ST-whatever squared in saved operating time.

    I’d even carry a pass saying “Starbucks’ Blonde”. Though from the flavor, I think model is either bleached or drinking anything with that poor mermaid on it. Bet it gives other fish same extra tail as the mermaid.

    Mark

  9. Ugh these “war on cars” articles always leave out the presence of alternative modes of transportation. Madrid has an incredible subway system with over 300 stops! Restricting autos in the center city there probably isn’t that big of a deal for most people.

    1. I’ve had tires burst and wheels cracked dropping into shell-holes. And my maintenance costs inflating, and value tarnished by slow, stop-and-go travel.

      All inflicted by the ever-increasing number of cars trapped into an ever-worsening lack of driving space.
      Who can object to a war of liberation?

      Mark

  10. I find it amazing that a Seattle commenter calls the Bay Area funding “balkanized”. Part of the bridge tolls there are already collected for the region, and the measure is to merely increase them — so there is no less structural “Balkanization” from it. In fact, most multimodal funding there is through countywide, multimodal sales taxes and other methods, and there is almost a 30 year history of countywide coordination committees developing plans and distributing funding. That is a much less balkanized approach when compared to our setting where every agency decides what they want to do and most other agencies are forced to accept decisions made by only one.

    1. The Bay Area doesn’t have a universal monthly pass, you have to buy a separate pass from each agency, and that adds up to quite a lot if you use two or three agencies. And BART doesn’t even have an unlimited pass: the closest is a bulk discount on distance credits, so that becomes a big monthly total if you commute regionally.on it.

      1. There is a modified regional pass system in the Bay Area, but it’s not unlimited. The Orca system is more comprehensive.

        The Bay Area has more operators than we do. Most major operators participated in the BART Plus program that began around 1990, including Muni and AC Transit. While it did not give unlimited rides on BART, travelers were free to buy the amount of distance-based fare that they anticipated.

        Now the preferred regional pass is Clipper, and the BART Plus pass is phased out.

        Transit trips there can easily be 50 or 70 miles, so the three long-distance operators that crossed county lines (BART, Golden Gate Transit, Caltrain) have historically had distance-based fares.

        Anyway, the bridge tolls partly shifted to funding regional projects in 1988 in RM1, and RM2 in 2002 allowed for bridge tolls to go to transit projects. This current measure is RM3. (The Golden Gate Bridge is not managed by the regional toll authority, although tolls have subsidized transit on it since 1971.) So this regional toll management vote isn’t changing anything to make things less balkanized; it’s just adding more tolls and new projects. I have to wonder what would be different here if bridge, tunnel and HOT lane revenues went to a regional body rather than WSDOT.

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