Seattle Transit Blog has maps and more.
David Lawson at Seattle Transit Blog has three tips for not fucking up this simple task.
Seen in the Beacon Hill Station...
Oh, for Christ's sake. Quartz's John McDuling says that auto sales are way, way up, which is a very good sign for the economy. Then he says this:
But as we’ve previously discussed, there’s good reason to be at least slightly concerned: The boom in auto sales coincides with a massive increase in cheap auto loans, many of which are subprime. These loans are packaged together and sold on to increasingly yield-hungry investors. Issuance of securities backed by subprime auto loans have more than doubled since 2010 to $17 billion this year, but remain below their 2005 peak, Businessweek reports, citing Deutsche Bank.
Does any of this sound familiar to anyone? Is there any reason to think that this story will end well?
Seattle Department of Transportation spokeswoman Marybeth Turner writes that drivers "should expect extra heavy traffic" downtown and on freeways this afternoon as folks flock to see the Seahawks at CenturyLink Field. Our players will start running into New Orleans players at 5:40 p.m., she says, and an estimated 67,000 ice-cold fans will be watching in the stands.
Last night, a cyclist nearly hit a van blocking the L Street cycletrack and decided to report it to the police. That's when he met Fred and Fran Smith, the husband-and-wife heads of a conservative think tank who started berating him for "minding other people's business."
I agree with every point (save one) that Jeff Speck makes in this presentation, which is also a summary of his book Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time...
This BBC story from David K. Gibson about a man who's rebuilding Buckminster Fuller's Dymaxion concept car is charming on many levels. Here's a description of the Dymaxion:
When the first zeppelin-shaped vehicle debuted in 1933, it broke every automotive design convention save the use of round wheels. Nearly 20 feet (6.1 metres) long, it could transport 11 people and return 30mpg thanks to wind-tunnel-tested aerodynamics and lightweight aluminium-skin construction. Its engine was rear-mounted but powered the front wheels, and it was steered with a single back wheel, a less-than-intuitive arrangement that may have contributed to a fatal crash that occurred during its demonstration at the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair.
The Dymaxion version that a Nashville car museum director is rebuilding is based on the original design, which means it has "one door, no moving windows and a single headlight." I'm not interested in cars, but I am absolutely entranced by car failures. The Edsel story fascinates me, from the abandoned list of names for the Edsel that poet Marianne Moore created to the sad story of the car's namesake, who was "occasionally humiliated in public" by his father. And if you're looking for a square-ish but totally decent movie about a failed car, I encourage you to seek out a copy of Tucker: The Man and His Dream, which stars Jeff Bridges as an enthusiastic young car-maker whose optimism and good cheer does absolutely nothing to stave off assaults from the big Detroit automakers. It's such an American movie that I think it ought to be screened in public every 4th of July.
Have you ever noticed the bike counter tacked onto the Fremont Bridge last October? More importantly, have you ever gone to the Seattle Department of Transportation's webpage that synthesizes the data collected by that bike counter, spitting out all sorts of interesting graphs tracking bike trips day by day, hour by hour, across the bridge?
It's pretty fascinating. For example, there have been over one million bike trips across the bridge in the last year. Just yesterday, the bridge hosted 1,141 trips. And now that we've collected over a year's worth of data, SDOT has found that bike trips across the bridge are up 28 percent this year over last year, resulting in "over 3,500 more cyclists per week," according to a fresh SDOT tweet. The webpage even shows the effect rain has on bike commutes!
SDOT is collecting the data from both the Fremont bridge bike counter and another counter on Spokane Street to help inform the woefully-underfunded Bicycle Master Plan. The website is a fun, educational time waster—and the perfect link to send your car-humping coworker who still stupidly insists that nobody rides.
Here's a few words of advice to our state Senate Republican Caucus about the $12.3 billion transportation package they've proposed: If you plan to enact this, you better pass it (and the 11.5 cent per gasoline tax that funds it) directly instead of referring it to voters, and then hope to God somebody doesn't referendum it. Because if it goes to the ballot, it's going down in flames.
As explained recently on Sightline Daily, 73 percent of the proposed spending would go to building new roads. Only 20 percent goes to road maintenance and safety, while a bare 4 percent goes to transit, bicycle, and pedestrian improvements. Only 4 percent! That's not just the opposite of what we want, it's an intentional insult!
"Ha, ha, fuck you Seattle," the Republicans are laughing. "You're so desperate for your Metro-saving MVET that you'll accept anything!"
Except, it's too late for that. Sure, the Republican proposal contains the MVET authority we asked for, but not councilmanic approval. Which means if this gas tax hike has to go to the ballot next November, the soonest we could go to King County voters for approval would be the spring of 2015. Meanwhile, Metro is going to start slashing service by June of 2014.
No, at this point the best choice left to King County is to go to voters in April with what authority it has as a transportation benefit district (car tabs and sales tax), and then tell the legislature to fuck off. There's no way a gas tax passes statewide without passing overwhelmingly in Seattle, and I can promise you that if this package goes to the ballot, my car-hating colleagues at The Stranger will take no prisoners in championing its defeat. The MVET hostage-taking was economic terrorism, and fuck if we're going to reward those tactics with even reluctant support.
Also, some words of advice to the Seattle legislative delegation: If Republicans want to vote en bloc in favor of an 11.5 cent per gallon tax increase, that's up to them. But if you vote for this abomination in its current form, giving it the veneer of bipartisan support (or giving Republicans the opportunity to vote no), prepare to look over your left shoulder and work a little harder for reelection.
The greatest fear of many cyclists isn't being hit by a vehicle—it's of hitting a vehicle. Specifically, they're afraid that a car door will open into a bicycle lane immediately in front of the cyclist, so that the rider, penned between parked cars on the right and moving traffic on the left, can't help but slam into the car door. There's no time to stop. That's what happened to a friend of mine last year.
Just last month, something like that happened in Wallingford to one of our Slog readers, who suffered serious injuries and is now asking for help trying to find the driver. He writes:
Dear Editor, The Stranger:
I was the victim of a hit-pause-run while riding my bike. (I was “doored.”) The information given to the police was not good enough to identify the vehicle/driver, so the SPD case is dead. My last resort is to try to appeal directly to the guy who opened his door on me, stood around silently for about five minutes and then took off. I don’t care about his identity, but I do care about the prodigious medical costs that are about to hit my mailbox. I need to do business with his insurance company. I’m wondering if you can print the following somewhere where the guy might notice it. Or maybe he told the story to his wife or some friend and they would recognize the car or the event. Really, you’re my last best hope, as impossible as it may be. At least I will know that I’ve done everything possible to find the guy.
He also wrote a plea directly to the driver, which you can find (along with his e-mail address) after the jump.
It is as simple as this GIF:
The case against cars, in 1 utterly entrancing GIF http://t.co/VN0pORXds5 http://t.co/bKIp6QBRZu
— The Atlantic (@TheAtlantic) November 18, 2013
Of course, a taxi driver:
"I used to have to wait at the traffic lights when they turned red," he says, "and now I can just drive straight through." It's total cabbie heaven. Via my dad, who asks, "Any chance for this in Seattle?"
This map bears no relation to reality, but still: Drooooooooooool.
[S]tudies performed in Arizona, Minnesota and Hawaii suggest that drivers are at fault in more than half of cycling fatalities. And there is something undeniably screwy about a justice system that makes it de facto legal to kill people, even when it is clearly your fault, as long you’re driving a car and the victim is on a bike and you’re not obviously drunk and don’t flee the scene. When two cars crash, everybody agrees that one of the two drivers may well be to blame; cops consider it their job to gather evidence toward that determination. But when a car hits a bike, it’s like there’s a collective cultural impulse to say, “Oh, well, accidents happen.” If your 13-year-old daughter bikes to school tomorrow inside a freshly painted bike lane, and a driver runs a stop sign and kills her and then says to the cop, “Gee, I so totally did not mean to do that,” that will most likely be good enough.
“We do not know of a single case of a cyclist fatality in which the driver was prosecuted, except for D.U.I. or hit-and-run,” Leah Shahum, the executive director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, told me.
Laws do forbid reckless driving, gross negligence and vehicular manslaughter. The problem, according to Ray Thomas, a Portland, Ore., attorney who specializes in bike law, is that “jurors identify with drivers.” Convictions carry life-destroying penalties, up to six years in prison, Mr. Thomas pointed out, and jurors “just think, well, I could make the same mistake. So they don’t convict.” That’s why police officers and prosecutors don’t bother making arrests. Most cops spend their lives in cars, too, so that’s where their sympathies lie.
So we should spend more money on protected bike lanes, which are separated from traffic, and it will be safer for die-hard bikers and adorable cycling families alike to get around. A recent study found people have much more positive feelings about separated bicycle lanes than regular bike lanes or so-called sharrows. Everyone on the road knows where to be, drivers are less nervous, and cyclists don't get pulped with impunity.
We are the humans...
This is a ship-shipping ship, shipping shipping ships. pic.twitter.com/T8aCvyDJ80— Usman Masood (@usmanm) October 10, 2013
Recent in the Seattle Times:
Seattle's traffic may or may not be getting better — but at least its ranking among the nation's most congested cities is improving.
The Texas Transportation Institute (TTI), which two years ago pronounced this region's traffic second-worst in the nation, released new rankings yesterday as part of its annual Urban Mobility Report.
The Seattle-Everett metropolitan area's congestion ranked 12th among 75 cities. The region tied for fifth in last year's edition of the report, easily the best-known, most-publicized continuing congestion study in the nation.
Recent in the New York Times:
Swedish study has confirmed the international reach of these effects. Erika Sandow, a social geographer at Umea University, found that people who commuted more than 30 miles a day were more likely to have high blood pressure, stress and heart disease. In a second study, Dr. Sandow found that women who lived more than 31 miles from work tended to die sooner than those who lived closer to their jobs. Regardless of how one gets to work, having a job far from home can undermine health. Another Swedish study, directed by Erik Hansson of Lund University, surveyed more than 21,000 people ages 18 to 65 and found that the longer they commuted by car, subway or bus, the more health complaints they had. Lengthy commutes were associated with greater degrees of exhaustion, stress, lack of sleep and days missed from work.
Indeed, one of the many fair things to do—once, that is, the current process of class relocation (the poor are being forced out of the city) is reversed (by state intervention, naturally)—is to offer those who do not drive, use public transportation or bikes, and live in dense urban cores cheaper health insurance policies than those who live out on the limits or in nowhere. Universal healthcare makes no sense if these cultural differences/choices with significant biological consequences are not recognized, calculated, and priced. Private costs must not be separated from social costs. Capitalism is nothing but the politics of separating the two.
KIRO's Morgan Palmer posted this WSDOT feed of high winds on 520 taken a few minutes ago. It's blurry, but it's still terrifying.
So if you're heading east or west, you should know that the 520 floating bridge is closed. They closed it a few minutes ago. Some drivers have had to abandon their cars. It's apparently a big mess. On the bright side, Seattle Weather Blog says the winds probably aren't going to get any worse:
Barometric pressure slowly rising in Seattle. That means peak winds are right now.
— Seattle Weather Blog (@KSeattleWeather) November 2, 2013
Be careful out there, kids. It's really fucking windy.
The man who was run over by a Metro bus shortly before 6 a.m. on Monday has been identified as 23-year-old Peter Cooper, according to the King County Medical Examiner’s Office.
Details via the Seattle Times:
The determination of the cause and manner of Cooper’s death is pending further investigation, according to medical examiners.
Seattle police are investigating the possibility that Cooper, who was found dead after being hit by a bus on Capitol Hill, may have been down in the street before the bus got there.
Tuesday morning, Officer Jeff Rodgers ticketed two bike riders and four motorists in an hour, while the 20 mph school-zone limit was in effect. In recent days he has cited other riders, typically rolling at 29 to 33 mph.
This sort of equal-opportunity enforcement isn’t well-known in the city of cycling Mayor Mike McGinn, where online news commenters love to complain about cyclists who flout traffic rules.
So it turns out that Seattle cops are pulling over cyclists for breaking the speed limit, mostly in school zones. GOOD. Cops should pull over cyclists going too fast in other parts of town, too. We've all seen plenty of cyclists push 35-40 miles an hour down hills—and, uh, as a cyclist myself, I can say that you can't really stop at that speed—so it's reckless as hell for riders who are one pothole, one gravel patch, or one oblivious driver away from becoming road borscht. To say nothing of the fact that it's goddamn terrifying for drivers who can't maneuver out of a bicycle's way when it's hurtling at them at that speed. Enforce the laws. Share the road. Be well.
PS — I'm sure some meatheads will scream that they once seen a cyclist run a stop sign and Mayor McSchwinn and tax bicycles now and this is God's country! If you wanna go tit for tat, vehicle drivers break traffic laws all the time and it's even more important for them to obey the rules of the road—they're driving a two-ton hulk of metal.
Even Jesus wants narrower streets, says @JeffSpeckAICP (via Vince Graham) pic.twitter.com/cHq1oCgFpe
— kclightrail.com (@kclightrail) October 8, 2013
Well, that depends how you read this sign spotted by a Slog tipper on Westlake Avenue North:
The driving force of an October 3 fundraiser "Paid for by Ed Murray for Mayor" were people who sought to "oppose Mayor McGinn's cycle track" on Westlake Avenue. "This is a narrowly focused event," said an e-mail invitation to Murray supporters by Peter Schrappen of the Northwest Marine Trade Association. "The sole focus should be around articulating the Westlake interests."
Based on their fundraising and signs, it sure looks like Murray's their guy to stop bike lanes—and appears to me that he's raising money with an implicit promise that once he's mayor, he'll retroactively scotch plans for bike lanes and prevent new bike lanes from being planned.
But Murray's folks say that's not the case.
I've asked the Murray campaign to comment on (1) Murray's approach to bike lanes on Westlake, (2) his claim that bike lanes on NE 75th Street were a "mistake" and they "got rid of all street parking" (which Seattle Bike Blog says is false), and (3) that he's raising money from people with a focused goal of opposing bike lanes.
Although Murray's campaign didn't address his funders or the claim that "all" parking was removed, spokesman Sandeep Kaushik acknowledges that the bike lane on 75th "was not a mistake." He nonetheless added that neighbors were upset and "we need to take a more comprehensive and integrated approach to our transportation planning." As for Westlake, Kaushik notes that "Ed's said publicly he's not opposed to the Westlake" bike lanes. So, there you go.
Yesterday, I posted about Mars Hill Church's claim that "God wants" them to have some property already owned by Sound Transit.
The short version: Mars Hill wants to move its headquarters to Bellevue and found a place it likes. Unfortunately, Sound Transit already owns the property. So Mars Hill sent out a press release and started a public-pressure email campaign claiming that Sound Transit swooped in, "seizing the property under the authority of eminent domain" and how the church was "going up against the government" because that's what "God wants."
Basically, they framed themselves as sweet little David and Sound Transit as big, bad Goliath.
But that's not what happened. Sound Transit purchased the property in a negotiated process that began back in 2011. Mars Hill didn't figure that out until it was too late and now seems to be in a high-profile snit.
Slog and several other publications pointed out this untruth, so Mars Hill has corrected the record in a "news roundup" that links to every story written about the controversy... except for The Stranger's.
... we’ve recently discovered that Sound Transit acquired the International Paper property through a negotiated sale as a “protective acquisition”, not under the authority of eminent domain as previously mentioned. We’ve updated our website to reflect this.
Mars Hill still wants the building, is still encouraging people to email Sound Transit, and still hasn't responded to The Stranger's requests for comment.
Like most Jews, I have a personal—if complicated—relationship with God, and so after reading Brendan's post about the Mars Hill Church claim that "God wants us to have" a Sound Transit-owned property in Bellevue for a new mega-church, I decided to ask God for comment.
Not only did God deny wanting the land for Mars Hill—"Unto Sound Transit have I given this land, from 120th Avenue NE unto the great railroad tracks," God bluntly said unto me—He also denied ever speaking to Mark Driscoll, Thomas Hurst, or any other pastor at Mars Hill Church. And when asked to comment on Hurst's assertion that "Jesus wants us to set down deep roots here on the Eastside," God laughed "Jesus who?" before elaborating: "I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God."
As regular readers of The Stranger are painfully aware, we love public transit. Love it. We love it—and what it does to make life better for everyone—so hard we sometimes risk squeezing it to death.
We are also deeply skeptical—to put it mildly—of the Manifest Destiny attitude over at Mars Hill Church which somehow, almost impossibly, manages to be stealthy and arrogant at the same time. (Mars Hill's bizarre bipolarity, their special combination of chest-puffery and cravenness, partly explains why the rest of us can't stop gawking at their theological/business rodeo.)
Anyway—a story that pits Sound Transit against Mars Hill is like a gift from you-know-who. As you read on, please keep this sentence from the Mars Hill leadership in your mind: "We believe that God wants us to have this property."
Our story begins earlier this week when folks at Sound Transit noticed a press release and new website from Mars Hill that sounded simultaneously triumphant and wounded. (How do they do that?) The church announced that God loves Mars Hill so much, He's super-sized their Bellevue branch and decided it should be the church's new headquarters:
Slog tipper Keith sent this KOMO story along:
What probably seemed like it was to be a routine drive for a Metro bus driver heading south on the I-5 express lanes into Downtown Seattle Wednesday morning instead turned into quite an adventure once it became quickly apparent the reversible lanes had just switched directions and he came face-to-face with northbound traffic.
Dellana Groen, a passenger on the Route 41 bus, told KOMO News the bus had just left the Northgate Park and Ride just after 11 a.m. and had started to drive onto the southbound express lanes at the NE 103rd onramp when the bus driver realized he shouldn't be going that way, yet couldn't back up.
I have nightmares about this exact scenario. Thankfully, nobody was injured. The rest of the story and pictures are available over at KOMO.
Here's the new cycle track that opened today on Broadway:
The track is open from Union Street to Denny Way, but it will soon run a mile south to Yesler Way. The lanes are clearly marked and, most important, physically separated from traffic by concrete curbs through much of the route.
This is obviously great for cyclist—and drivers.
The fear of accidentally hitting a cyclist contributes to the animosity some drivers have felt towards people on two wheels. If the lanes are clearly delineated—and even separated by a barrier—I think that anxiety fades and more folks feel comfortable driving near folks on bikes. It also makes cyclists safer. Cycle tracks will help avoid accidents like this one I witnessed on Second Avenue, which left the driver and rider both obviously shaken. And the less fear we have of an accident, the less anger we have about transportation.
Politicizing bikes like they're some new scourge is stupid. They've been part of every city's transportation scheme since they were invented. But... obviously, some folks have some feelings about bikes. They've become a political wedge in the mayor's race. While this Broadway cycle track was built under the leadership of Mayor Mike McGinn, his opponent, Ed Murray, is taking a pretty strong stance against bicycle lanes. Just today Seattle Bike Blog reported that Murray opposes North Seattle bike lanes because, he says, they "got rid of all street parking." Seattle Bike Blog politely points out that's a "factual error"—they didn't get rid of all street parking. But that sure makes bike lanes sound scary!
In another comment that made bike lanes sounds scary, Murray said finishing a missing link on the Burke-Gilman Trail would be "potentially dangerous." Murray then added a clarification that he'd been "overly skeptical" but still said a "cycle track is not ideal."
Murray is raising money on this anti-bike platform. As we mentioned last week, the driving force of a fundraiser in early October "Paid for by Ed Murray for Mayor" were people who sought to "oppose Mayor McGinn's cycle track" on Westlake Avenue. "This is a narrowly focused event," said an invitation to Murray supporters by Peter Schrappen of the Northwest Marine Trade Association. Murray hasn't yet provided comment.
Here's the reason this anti-bike anger is backwards: The anger is being used to oppose bicycle infrastructure—the very bicycle infrastructure that will make drivers happier and cyclists safer.
In this week's news section I write about how Seattle's vaunted new bike share program may be reduced to a two-neighborhood novelty before it even launches unless local corporations step up to invest in it. The trouble with fighting to save something we don't yet have is that, because no west coast cities have up-and-running bike share programs yet, Seattleites haven't really been exposed to its benefits. But the benefits are great.
For example, earlier this week, the Atlantic wrote about how bike share could replace more expensive forms of transit infrastructure. The piece reads like it was written for Seattle:
A lot of cities want to expand their transit service but don't have the money to dig an entire subway system (or even to extend one that already exists). Usually these places will instead consider enhancing bus service (often through bus-rapid transit) or, perhaps, building an above-ground rail system (lately streetcars have been the rage). During a discussion about the future of urban mobility at CityLab, Chicago transportation chief Gabe Klein suggested another option: bike-share.
"There's this argument about streetcar versus BRT, and what should primary cities, secondary cities sort of look at," said Klein. "I think, first of all, you shouldn't count out bike-share as mass transit."
... The price of bike-share is also right. Klein, who used to run the transportation department in Washington, D.C., said the entire Capital Bikeshare system was put in place for $6 million. Citi Bike is privately funded. Streetcar systems, by comparison, cost tens of millions of dollars in public money to build. For all that spending, their ridership figures can end up in the same ballpark as those of bike-share; Portland's very successful streetcar system, for instance, carries 11,000 people a day.