28 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Move over, Washington drivers! It is the law now”

    1. Is this for Washington State or Washington DC. I live in Washington State and this is the first I have heard about a new law. Is it real? How are they letting the people know? They can expect anyone to watch the news anymore as unbiased journalists have left their station.

      1. Hwy 3 and hwy 16 have signs posted. I have lived here since 2012 and those signs have been posted since then I know.

    1. Oregon passed something similar. If it were introduced in Washington it might take several tries but it might eventually pass. The Washington legislature hasn’t really considered the topic yet so it’s unclear how good a case the proponents could make or what the opposition would look like. Oregon and Minneapolis aren’t that different from Washington and Seattle.

      California has several unusual factors that fuel the debate. Its population is several times larger than Washington or Oregon so the number of low-density suburbanites is larger. The Eastside has Medina; California has Marin County. California is the epicenter of the movie industry, West Coast banking, and Silicon Valley, all of which generate many wealthy people with large houses who don’t want change. It was the epicenter of the 60s counterculture, 70s environmentalism, the gay culture, anti-tax Prop 13, and the rise of Ronald Reagan. Its politics are the most extreme and hypersensitive on the west coast. 1970s environmentalism had an anti-urban strain that views density as destroying the environment. That was a significant part of the campaign against liberalizing zoning. California has several times more minorities and homeless people than other west coast states, so the “threat” of them concentrating in these densified areas is more real or imaginable. The average house price in some counties is over a million dollars, so homeowners are sitting on a million-dollar asset, and they’re afraid that density will reduce their home values and make them no longer millionaires. All of these shape the debate and legislative votes in California to a larger extent than elsewhere.

    2. This sounds a lot like bills that are currently in the WA legislature: Senate bill 6536 and house bill 2780 which would remove a lot of single family zoning statewide.

  1. Safe space means nothing. As it is the police do not enforce lots of MV laws such as in Seattle the 25 MPH arterial and 20 MPH speed limit on side streets. Laws do nothing without enforcement and it’s never been a priority for police to patrol for speeds or for ped/biker distance from cars.

    1. Amen.
      It’s against the law to park on sidewalks. It is against the law to run a stop sign. It is against the law to turn right on red without first stopping. Yet… as a pedestrian, I routinely witness all of these things, daily. Great law. But the police simply don’t give AF. They are too busy getting their quota of speeding tickets on arterials and grabbing coffee at Starbucks.

      1. I would echo that not only do I see people doing these things everyday, but I’d add that I also see cars parking across crosswalks and menacing pedestrians on a regular basis. Not quite everyday, but it’s not uncommon to see a police officer witness the exact same thing. In 20+ years living in Seattle, I’m yet to see an officer do anything about it.

  2. Anybody who knows: For both cars and buses, what’s condition of the hands-on vehicle-handling part of driver training? How many people know what, and where, their cars’ “blind spots” are?

    Also, in addition to safety, how much smooth driving saves on repairs and maintenance? And how much time, without any extra accelerator?

    Best would be a yearly proficiency- meaning book-work-free road test with a State Patrol instructor. Who’d then have the choice of issuing either a renewed driver’s license, or a transit pass good all over the country.

    Highway speed and safety, way up. Insurance costs, way down. Comments?

    Mark Dublin

  3. Sam, I also tend to think that flashing lights should be reserved for emergency vehicles- because they tend to distract drivers’ and pedestrians’ attention at the very times it’s needed most.

    And sirens? Europe’s been doing this for a long time: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ls6iocgM5y4

    And now that its easy to buy both handlebar mounts for cell-phones and also video-recording glasses to gather evidence, looks like motorists have a world of incentive to treat bike-riders right.

    Which good course of training should leave in every motorist’s own muscle memory.

    Mark Dublin

      1. I’ve got no statistics, and it be early for them. But in my own driving days, past and present, don’t like the new over-frantic lighting now and would’ve liked them less then.

        Thing I relate to most about Greta Thunberg’s mental condition is incurable intolerance of having one’s concentration savaged. Can’t forgive either politics or the media across the board for making this a deliberate strategy.

        Trolleybus drivers in particular need an uninterrupted view above the roof-line.

        Mark Dublin

  4. With all the recent chatter about future-proofing Link with switches, I’d like to suggest another future-proofing idea: escalators and elevators.

    We keep building stations and dropping escalators from plans. When we cut back, we don’t include extra space to come along and add them in the future.

    Since we are building so many new stations, shouldn’t we have additional space allocated for “future horizontal access”? It seems like a modest adjustment to station planning that wouldn’t affect costs that much.

    For that matter, having some “future pedestrian walkway” or “future pedestrian tunnel” on some station plans could also be advantageous so that there aren’t complex structural or utility problems in the way if connections get added in the future.

    1. Reserving space for escalator/elevator expansions is a good idea. The reason they’re being dropped is to mitigate cost overruns, but reserving space costs little. Unfortunately, it’s the same issue as building interface stubs for potential additional platforms in the future. ST refuses to do it.

  5. Thinking of the Link stations I’d like to see built at Madison and Boren, and also for Downtown Ballard, architects should be able to use the emphatic slope of the ground to handle station access with one or more long, shallow ramps.

    Which could make machine-assist unnecessary.
    And would also serve as long gently-graded shopping concourses between the surface and the platforms. Think about it.

    Mark Dublin

    1. Yes, several folks have advocated for that. A station at Boren and Madison could have a flat tunnel from an “upper Mezzanine” to about 8th. Cover the hillside between the freeway (7th) and the brow of the hill at 9th and create hundreds of new view properties.

  6. I’ve been watching this minimalist video series by a woman in a country cottage in Ireland. I can do some of it in the city but some of it requires living in a rural area or small town. That made this city-lover think about someday maybe moving to such an area. I spent weekends on Vashon Island in junior high in the 70s so I have that experience, but my parents drove everywhere and you needed a car to anything (the supermarket, an isolated used bookstore, friend’s houses, the ferry). It is a bike-sized area so you could get around that way and I used to bike in Seattle but I can’t see myself getting back into it, I’m more of a transit and walking person. All towns in the US used to be walkable but most have lost it. Former towns on Vashon have become 100% residential. In Arlington the Haggen supermarket is way in a far corner of town on a dark highway. In the Tri-Cities on Greyhound I saw the Gold’s Gym was at the edge of town, hard to get to without a car. Yet I hear about people who find a country house that’s across the street from a supermarket and school and a bus stop so that they can do at least some of their everyday necessities without a car.

    My question is, are there more places like that in Washington State I’ve overlooked? It seems like you can really live without a car without significant hardship only in central Seattle or downtown Bellevue, and maybe central Spokane. Are there other places I might want to look at?

    1. One obvious suggestion would be Bainbridge Island, which, might be workable car-free if you get a home within walking distance of the Seattle ferry. Routine grocery shopping, you could do on foot. And you have easy access to Seattle for more complicated needs. You also have the Kitsap Transit buses to Poulsbo/Silverdale/etc., plus the Strait Shot to Port Angeles.

      There exist other small towns that would permit walking to a grocery store. But you’d quickly run into problems where the only way to ever leave town is with a car, and with no rental options, the only way to have access to a car, is to own one, and keep it sitting there all those days you don’t need to leave town (or, be lazy and drive it three blocks to the supermarket, like the rest of the country does). Of course, if you get to know your neighbors well enough, there might be other car borrowing opportunities besides rental car businesses…

    2. Ellensburg? There’s a Fred Meyer <1 mile from the historic center, which should cover you for most everything that's not downtown, and with CWU there should be sufficient bus service for less frequent trips.

      Poulsbo has good bones. The walk to the Safeway might be unpleasant but it's doable. Port Angeles has everything within a traditional grid; some distances might be longer than desired but you'll have a sidewalk the whole way. For both cities, you'll have bus service that's oriented to get you to Seattle via ferries at least daily.

      Is your goal, "never use a car for daily trips" or "never use a car?" Plenty of tiny towns on the both sides of the mountains have vibrant downtowns. You might need a car to get out of town, but anything touristy will have a walkable downtown with everything in striking distance. Places like Leavensworth, Chelan, or Port Townsend are pricey but I'm sure there are plenty of retired people who aim to only walk most days. Cashmere is a hidden gem, and the county runs a bus into Wenatchee, I believe. Shoot, Wenatchee itself might be viable.

    3. I lived in Bellingham without a car for a few years. There are some great walkable old neighborhoods close to downtown like the lettered streets, York, Fountain District. Home prices in bham are a little out of proportion though. I also know several people who lived in Olympia without a car.

    4. Winthrop, 1.3 mi from brewery to Post Office (the most out of the way thing “in” town. Pretty much any small mtn town like Leavenworth or Chelan. Or isolated towns in eastern Washington like Tonaskat or even larger cities like Walla Walla.

    5. Bainbridge (depending on where on the island of course). My dad rode his bike to the ferry and then to work every day for about 25 years.

      Groceries are trickier though. The main stores are located in Winslow and there are only 3 little market/gas station type places on the rest of the island. This is sort of offset by the huge yards you can still buy if wanted to grow your own food. I had nearly an acre as a kid, grew apples bigger than your fist.

  7. A reattriburion of the Seattle Times article (February 3) Seattle Times article. FTA is questioning the SDOT practice of hiring firms, then paying lots more for services that weren’t clearly defined or reasonably budgeted in the bidding process. It’s like advertising for a cheap aluminum house trailer but end up amending the contracts for a large brick mansion, apparently.

    https://www.masstransitmag.com/management/news/21123779/wa-clues-hint-at-direction-of-federal-probe-into-seattle-transportation-projects?utm_source=MASS+NewsViews+Newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=MASS200203002&o_eid=6334I5835412H7A&rdx.ident%5Bpull%5D=omeda%7C6334I5835412H7A

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