Seattle Transportation Updates

There are a lot of ideas floating around Seattle right now. From the expensive Ballard Bridge expansion to a simple reimagination of Dexter, infrastructure improvements show promise for transit, cycling, and pedestrian travel in Seattle. Check out some of the recent news:

Study: Widening Ballard Bridge sidewalks possible, but it won’t be cheap (+ is there an easier way?) [SBB]

County cancels next round of Metro cuts [CHSB]

New parking meters, time-of-day rates on the way [ST]

Ballard to Redmond by Light Rail? Sound Transit Thinkin’ Bout It (CURBED]

Dexter protected bike lane plans include shared turn lanes, bus stops [SBB]

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Pronto Cycle Share Just Over 2 Weeks Away: Updates

Here are a few quick updates on Pronto’s October 13th launch. The Seattle Bike Blog did an excellent job covering these, so I will just point you in the right direction.

  • Pronto is installing its first stations now, so keep an eye out for them. The first location to go in will be 9th Ave and Mercer street.
  • Pronto will not launch with helmet vending machines. Instead, it will use a temporary honor system for members to use and deposit helmets. Annual members will also receive a voucher for a free Pronto helmet from REI.
  • Pronto celebrated Park(ing) day alongside many other communities groups by partnering with Bike Works to spread the word and do some basic tune-up work. Great collaboration!
  • Returning to helmets, check out some data from SPD that shows they are targeting the wrong people when it comes to issuing infractions.
  • Mayor Ed Murray is working to get city funding for Pronto to expand into lower income neighborhoods in the Central District.

In its first week of operations the new protected bike lane on 2nd Avenue has seen dramatically increased ridership levels. Was this a fluke from all the people trying it out who would normally never need to use this road? Only time will tell, but what is clear is that left-turning drivers have done an excellent job of following the no-turn signs and traffic speed has barely been affected despite huge sporting events. I expect these trends to continue, if not improve. Learn more in the Seattle Bike Blog’s article.

Bike traffic on 2nd Ave triples after city builds protected bike lane | Seattle Bike Blog

Playable Cities – yes, that is a real concept. Words like plan, organize, structure, purpose, utility seem to dominate city planning, but what if we replaced them with ad-hoc, spontaneous, creative, community? Check out this article from the Guardian for a glimpse at the possibilities.

Playable Cities: the city that plays together, stays together | theguardian.com

Not a War on Cars

I hear that phrase a lot. War on cars. First off, it is not pedestrians and cyclists that injure and even kill drivers. That aside, infrastructure improvements aimed at improving non-motorized transit do not always negatively impact traffic flow. In fact, sometimes new designs to implement bike improvements actually help traffic flow. Take the new two-way protected bike lane on 2nd Ave. Yes, the number of through-traffic lanes is decreased from 3 to 2. But anyone who has ever drove in Downtown Seattle knows half the trouble is turning: with so many pedestrians and traffic congestion cars often cannot turn and cause traffic to pile up. The new layout reduces and in some cases eliminates this by introducing a separate turning lane combined with a turn-only signal. Now turning vehicles are removed from the regular flow of traffic and are ensured adequate time and space to turn. Having drove 2nd Ave since the redesign I can vouch for how effective this seemingly small addition can be.

Cycling infrastructure needs to be built and improved because we need safer streets. But we also need smarter, more efficient streets and new cycling infrastructure is designed to make the most of our roadways. For more, Citylab covers the traffic impacts of protected bike lanes in an excellent piece on the redevelopment of several streets in NYC. Thinning lanes and creating turning cut-outs actually improved travel time for motorists!

War on Homelessness, or War on the Homeless?

Busting encampments doesn’t end homelessness any more than busting drug users created a drug-free America.

Last Friday a homeless man fell from a ledge over I-5. He later died from his injuries, and the media has little to say about the whole affair. Anyone following my blog knows how big a deal Sher Kung’s death turned out to be…it is funny how we as a society value different types of people. She was young, active, an icon and role model by all accounts; he was older, homeless, invisible. I found out about Sher Kung’s death from shocked Seattleites and a slew of media coverage; I learned of his accident in an email warning about the traffic jam his fall created. What more needs to be said?

Luckily, the Stranger is always good for covering stories overlooked by the mainstream media. The Stranger article not only reports on the incident but examines the reasons why homeless people are being forced into dangerous situations. “When we don’t take responsibility for the people who are sleeping outside, and instead penalize and criminalize people sleeping outside, it just drives them into more remote and unsafe situations” says Director of Real Change Tim Harris.

I occasionally work with homeless people and I personally know people who have lived homelessly in Seattle. To me Nickelsvile and other encampments are not an eyesore or a problem. They are a solution for people who the system is not supporting. Sure, it might not be the best solution but with needs high and resources low a second-best solution might be all we have. These people are building a community and supporting themselves – why are we trying to prevent this?

The New 2nd Ave…By Night

In the wake of the tragic death of Sher Kung two weeks ago, Seattle’s cyclists have anxiously awaited the opening of the newly renovated 2nd Ave from Pike to Yesler. With the promise of bike signals, protected lanes, and more visibility by turning motorists the redesign makes us hope this is the last time we must gather together and solemnly ride down 2nd Ave. Well, the new two-way cycle track opened yesterday with the help of volunteers from Cascade Bicycle Club who were on-hand to help orient bicyclists, pedestrians, and drivers to the new set-up. Unfortunately I could not make it yesterday, but tonight I put the track to a good test: night riding. I must say, I am satisfied. As you’ll see, I prepared myself for several cars to cut me off with left-hand turns but each and every one stopped. I felt safe…finally.

 

The new infrastructure has me feeling so much safer! It also facilitates traffic flow by separating turning vehicles from the regular flow and allowing them a separate turning signal to ensure cars are not blocked by pedestrians and bikes.

It’s a great system – all that is left is to make sure everyone behaves responsibly. The end result should increase safety and travel speed for all users.