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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

An Urban Experiment at Beacon Hill Station

Posted by on Tue, Nov 20, 2012 at 12:59 PM

What makes Beacon Hill Station different from others on the Link line? You can't really see the train platforms until the very last moment, the moment after the elevator finally opens its slow doors and you look to the right or left, depending on your destination. If empty, you casually walk to the platform and wait. If not, if a train is right there, you make a dash for the open but always-about-to-close doors. Sometimes you make it; sometimes you don't. Because this situation can only happen here, 160 feet below South Lander Street, and no where else in the city, it presents a great opportunity for a simple scientific project: The categorization of types of train dashers in Seattle.


Not all dashers are the same. Some dash, miss, and express great frustration. Some dash, miss, and explode with gorilla-like rage—window-thumping the closed doors. Some dash, miss, and are pretty cool about it (expressing a normal amount of frustration). Some run, miss, and look as if they have come across another piece of evidence to add to his/her growing belief that the world really does hate them more than the rest of humanity. I have noticed that men almost never give up the dash (reaching the doors, hitting them, yelling at the moving train to stop and let them in—which it never does), and women tend to see things more realistically, tend to know the game is up before even reaching the train. But my sample size is too small to be meaningful. It will take time and commitment for me to see the universal laws operating behind this new creature of a new niche: the Seattle train dasher.


Comments (19) RSS

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When the elevator doors finally creep open and I am dashing toward the train (along with 3 to 5 other hopeful runners), could those of you safely on board please bother to hold the doors? There is something uniquely stressful about that elevator ride down - always wondering if a train is just pulling up, pulling out, or not there at all. I know holding the door would delay you by about 10-15 seconds, but it really adds up to about one stop light wait once you get up to the surface, so it doesn't really seem like too much to ask for a nice neighborly start to the day... Please? and Thank you!
Posted by BH rider on November 23, 2012 at 10:19 AM · Report this
How about the people on the train who don't bother to hold the door? A 15-second delay for the benefit of the 5 or 10 people who just came off the elevator isn't too much to ask for is it? Will 15-seconds multiplied by the 50 to 100 people who are on the train going to change the course of history? Maybe for the better if we all start our day being thoughtful to each other...
Posted by BH rider on November 23, 2012 at 10:12 AM · Report this
The feeling of running for and just catching the train is awesome, plus it's and excuse to run in public :D

Posted by Southside Kelly on November 23, 2012 at 1:38 AM · Report this
Catalina Vel-DuRay 16
Raku dear, my "privilege" has been duly checked, and yet I've still found you to be a naive loon. In fact, I was too charitable in my original post. If you find the Beacon Hill Station to be in the top 1000 "most dangerous places" in Seattle, you are a hopeless drip.

But if you want to wallow in imaginary victimhood, there's always the 36. Have a nice ride.
Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay on November 20, 2012 at 9:29 PM · Report this
#14 - are you talking about the privilege of a station with a rent-a-cop doing rounds every five minutes, trains coming through every 10 minutes and people coming and going all the time? Oh, and emergency call boxes and cameras everywhere.

AKA, check your paranoia.
Posted by Beaconian on November 20, 2012 at 9:10 PM · Report this
raku 14
#13: Maybe, instead of dismissing someone's experience as ridiculous and naive, you could ask yourself why someone who looks like you can't imagine why being in an exitless room with a stranger is creepy. Then imagine why someone who doesn't look like you might face different dangers and have different experiences being trapped in places with strangers.

AKA, check your privilege.
Posted by raku on November 20, 2012 at 7:16 PM · Report this
Catalina Vel-DuRay 13
Oh dear God. If one is naive enough to believe that the Beacon Hill Station is among even the top 500 "most frightening places" in Seattle, then one never leaves one's home.
Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay on November 20, 2012 at 6:21 PM · Report this
raku 12
Beacon Hill station is the most frightening place in Seattle. No good can come out of a tiny room deep underground with no one else around and no escape.
Posted by raku on November 20, 2012 at 5:30 PM · Report this
I don't sacrifice my dignity by running in public just to save seven minutes.
Posted by Orv on November 20, 2012 at 4:21 PM · Report this
true story: My toddler and I got off that elevator, saw the train, and started running. Long story short, we tripped on each other, and fell into a heap, not on our head or back or anything, but definitely shaken up and destined to miss the train. Oh well, lesson learned -- don't rush, because there WILL be another train, there WILL be another elevator, another whatever. But the interesting thing was the people who were on the same elevator rushing for the same train -- should they wait to see if we were OK or should they still make the mad dash for the train? Everyone shrugged and got on the train anyway, some definitely questioning if they should make sure we were OK. A little disheartening, but also OK, I guess, because after you fall in public but realize you are OK you just want to disappear and pretend no one saw it.
Posted by abomb on November 20, 2012 at 2:36 PM · Report this
rob! 9
Ha, excellent, @8. Two more opportunities to watch people pound on doors in frustration.
Posted by rob! on November 20, 2012 at 2:33 PM · Report this
stinkbug 8
The elevators (and waiting area above ground) should have monitors so that people can see if a train is there or not.
Posted by stinkbug on November 20, 2012 at 2:17 PM · Report this
Westlake, son! 7
pics / vid of participants required.
Posted by Westlake, son! on November 20, 2012 at 2:02 PM · Report this
The closest Seattle gets to London.
Posted by boyd main on November 20, 2012 at 1:48 PM · Report this
Definitely the coolest of the light rail stations

I used to work a block away and ride the rail every day and I can't even count how many times I'd run for the train and miss it thanks to the slow ass doors.

Posted by ultrasuedecushion on November 20, 2012 at 1:41 PM · Report this
Catalina Vel-DuRay 4
I come through the station every workday, and occasionally just miss a train. My trick is to be in the back of the elevator if there are young people on-board, so if the train is in the station, they can run ahead and catch it. If not, I just wait in the elevator lobby until the train pulls out. After all, another one will be there in seven minutes.

And yes, those elevator doors are maddeningly slow. Especially the northernmost one.
Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay on November 20, 2012 at 1:34 PM · Report this
"a urban"
Posted by Scrambles on November 20, 2012 at 1:08 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 2
So, the station is for Mistresses, not Wives?
Posted by Will in Seattle on November 20, 2012 at 1:07 PM · Report this
treacle 1
Posted by treacle on November 20, 2012 at 1:05 PM · Report this

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