Category Archives: mass transit

reBertha: What To Do With Our Very Large Hole

photo modified under Creative Commons. Original available on flickr from the WaDOT (http://www.flickr.com/photos/wsdot/8260834957/in/set-72157631880763139)
As you’ve probably heard, our tortured tunneling titan, Bertha “the world’s largest and most expensive tunneling machine,” hasn’t moved in more than a month.

Armchair speculation says she’s likely over budget and certainly behind schedule.

I think it’s safe to say things are a mess.  Many of us alternative transportation nerds advocates have been against this mega project debacle since the beginning.  A mere $2.8B to move some cars at roughly the same speed and efficiency as if we tore down the doomed Alaska Way Viaduct and did nothing? “Sure that sounds like a great investment (air quotes over the great),” was my reaction all along.

Tweet: Bertha's Budget Busted

Nobody official wants to speak publicly about the growing quagmire, probably because the State and the contractor, Seattle Tunnel Partners, are busy lining up their litigation teams for the lawsuit(s) of the century.

Meanwhile the same state leaders glady supporting the motor-vehicle-only tunnel also think that investing in bike and transit infrastructure is too expensive and/or too socialist. Right….

So it’s tempting (oh so tempting!) to play I-told-you-so and draft an initiative to require all State Legislators to write suitably conciliatory, daisy-scented, “I’m sorry” notes to hero tunnel obstructionist/former Mayor McGuin.

Bertha's Junk. A creative commons photo from the Washington State Department of Transportation http://www.flickr.com/photos/wsdot/11828410274/in/set-72157631880763139/lightbox/

Bertha’s Junk

As much as I’d like to see how a liberal Tim Eyeman-style effort would play out in Ephrata, we’re instead going to join the moral-high ground freshly shoveled in by Tom over at the Seattle Bike Blog. In a post Thursday morning entitled “We can do better things with our new downtown tunnel,” he’s calling for a positive spin to install on our sinking Titantic. Continue reading

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UW Burke-Gilman Closure/Detour in mid December

Head’s up: Anne and I were out for ride with a neighbor on Wednesday and noticed an upcoming Burke-Gilman trail reroute.

Apparently a small portion the trail needs to be closed December 14 – January 3 to allow early prep work for the future University Link light rail station.

An easy detour is available on Mason Rd, the lightly-traveled access road which runs parallel and just above the trail grade.

More from Sound Transit:

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News Flash! Cars are expensive

This just in: driving a car costs a whole bunch of money. Crazy as it may sound to all eight of our car-loving readers, puttin’ the pedal to the metal isn’t quite as cost effective as actually pedaling.

This according the American Public Transportation Association’s Transit Savings Report. They looked at what a car costs  to own and run (the whole deal from buying it, maintaining it, parking, registration, insurance and more) and then compared that with what transit use would cost the same family.

The PI says in Seattle such a comparison nets a$10,483 savings for those chucking their car keys. And that’s for transit use. A bicycle switchover would probably fare even better. Pretty impressive.

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Bike-Ferry Commute Awesomeness

This is sweet. The volume of commuters is almost like something you’d see in Northern Europe. The video author says the state ferry system is thinking of bumping cars in favor of bikes because bikes generate more revenue per square foot of deck space. Makes sense to me—six or eight paying cyclists in the space of normally occupied by a lone driver is easy math.

Wasn’t it just last year they were saying passenger/bike ferries weren’t an economical option ? I guess they didn’t anticipate the impact of $125/barrel oil on the hearts and minds of SOV ferry commuters.

– Tim

via Greggscycles Plurk (-stream? -line? -uh…what is a plurk feed called?)

Seattle’s Got a Whole Lot of Bikin’ Goin’ On

Just a bike commuter in SeattleI had minor knee surgery Thursday. I’m surprisingly mobile, (three laps around the block yesterday!) but not quite up for my normal ride. That meant a trip home from work via Metro bus today. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a very good bus commuter. I resent buses being late and early (and sometimes on time). Mostly it’s my problem because I have time issues. Regardless, I’d rather ride.

One advantage of the bus, I found today, is the ability to check on the state of the Seattle bike commute. On my daily ride, I see a few folks out there but don’t get a sense for numbers. I don’t pass a lot of riders and don’t get passed too much either. Mostly I just roll along alone, occasionally waving toward oncoming riders. Am I alone or just riding in a bike-free bubble? It’s hard to tell.

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Pacific NW Per-Capita Gas Use Down to 1966 Levels

Gas Consumption is DownAccording to the Sightline institute, gas consumption is down in the Pacific Northwest (Oregon, Washington and Idaho. For more stats and details, read the full report.)  In terms of weekly gasoline consumption per person, Oregon and Washington are in the top 10 least consuming states (Washington D.C. actually leads the pack.)

This is good news–way to go northwesterners, but don’t go celebrating just yet.

Our total consumption, keeping pace with population growth, has not dropped. Per-captia we still consume more gas than a handful of states including New York, Hawaii, Rhode Island, Alaska, Utah, Illinois and Pennsylvania. And compared against the world, the report reminds us we still have a long way to go:

Despite recent reductions, northwesterners still consume prodigious amounts of gasoline. Daily consumption in the Northwest states remains nearly twice as high as the global average for high-income countries. 

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Bike SLUT Issues Overblown, Says Non-Riding Mayor

I meant to post this before the Portland bike show but ran out of time. I was just going to let it go, but then I came _this_ close_ to crashing on the South Lake Union Trolley (SLUT) tracks on my way home tonight. So…

Old Tracks Make the New SLUT tracks even more dangerous

The Seattle Times is on a roll with cycling-as-transportation articles these days. I normally prefer the PI (mostly because the Times-owning Blethens are idiots obsessed with the estate tax), but these cycling articles in the Seattle Times are nice because they lack the PIs pathetic “Sound Off” public forums—normally a magnet for bike haters.

The article “New streetcar lines should be in center of road, council member says” reports that Jan Drago (and other council members) calling for bike-friendly future trolley development. Overall, good points were made. I must cross SLUT (south lake union trolley) tracks about four times on each way of my commute. It’s horrible. So far I’ve experienced no mishaps (knock on wood) but I have come close. Though the Xtracycles’ long wheelbase has saved my ass so far, I know it’s only a matter of time.

It’s quite obvious to anyone who has attempted to ride in SLU, that the city erred on the side of development (sidewalk boarding, even in the face of known bicycle hazards, was called for by Mr. Allen’s team and other property owners and approved by Mayor Nichols). As a result, bike advocates and now the council think the pendulum should swing the other way on future trolley development.

That’s a good start but it brings me to my beef with our beefy mayor. The article resurfaces a comment made by the Mayor in December where he said bike-trolley safety issues weren’t important. To me, this is the real story and calls into doubt the weight of this weighty mayors commitment to the Bike Master Plan.

In December, Mayor Greg Nickels complained in casual conversation that the bike issue was overblown. -P.I. article

Interim Route ON SIDEWALK?!?In case you haven’t been paying attention, Mayor Nichols has, shall we say, “put on a few pounds” while in office. As someone who is always fighting against weight-gain, I normally wouldn’t say a word about this. However, in this case I think his growing chin count illustrates how the mayor isn’t qualified to speak on the cycling-safety issue. Those puffy cheeks and straining Dockers make it painfully obvious the mayor hasn’t been piloting a bike around the Seattle traffic infrastructure on a regular basis.

So Mr. Mayor, please do me a favor — when you feel the need to talk about how something is not a cycling safety issue just SHUT THE HELL UP.

You have at least one expert on staff. Let them fill you in on the safety angle. If you can’t trust your staff, consider these other options:

  • Give voice to regular bike commuters to discuss their traffic experiences
  • Seek opinion from the Cascade Bicycle Club
  • Copy what they are doing in Portland (everyone else is)
  • Even lean on the folks who are in the trenches.

Yield to PedsPlease, Mr. Mayor, just do whatever it takes to keep your feet out of your mouth. Because until you make an effort to ride your talk and actually try cycling our pathetic infrastructure again, your opinion on cycling safety is worthless.

-Tim

More commute photos in the Car Free Days commute photostream at Flickr

Fun with Metro

the Metro, photo by VEO: http://www.flickr.com/photos/veo/205556435/
photo by VEO: http://www.flickr.com/photos/veo/205556435/

I have this love-hate relationship with the bus. I love the idea of mass transit but hate Metro‘s implementation. I get impatient with all the stops. Why can’t we make people walk just a little farther, cut out half the stops and and speed the whole route up? Continue reading