Seattle’s indispensable historian Knute Berger does a series on the city’s bike background:
Seattle’s indispensable historian Knute Berger does a series on the city’s bike background:
From the Seattle Times, via Daily Durning:
Seattle will develop a plan to toll city roadways as part of its efforts to reduce traffic congestion and greenhouse-gas emissions, Mayor Jenny Durkan said Tuesday.
Details of what such a plan might look like are sparse, and will hinge on a tolling study focused on downtown neighborhoods that should have initial results later this year. …
Durkan said she was hopeful a congestion-pricing system could be in place by the end of her first term, in 2021. …
Seattle could implement tolling within the city without the permission of the state Legislature, but it would almost certainly require the approval of city voters.
In 2015, 56 percent of Puget Sound-area voters said systemwide tolling was a bad or very bad idea, according to a poll from the Puget Sound Regional Council. …
Revenues from congestion pricing would be used to increase transit service throughout the city and to support more electric transportation infrastructure, Durkan said. …
Limited tolling is already coming to downtown Seattle, with the opening of the Highway 99 tunnel, scheduled for later this year. But the state Transportation Commission continues to struggle deciding how much to toll and when to start tolling.
Along with a high-speed train link to Seattle as reported in Price Tags Vancouver, there is a new “by sea option” too. After seven years of planning Harbour Air Group will work with Seattle’s Kenmore Air to fly four times a week between Coal Harbour and Lake Union in Seattle, very close to Amazon.com’s headquarters.
The big challenge for this route as reported by Glen Korstrom in Business in Vancouver has been obtaining a Canadian Border Services Agency approval for a customs desk at Coal Harbour. There already is an American customs facility at the Lake Union dock in Seattle.
The proposed flights will land passengers in Seattle under one hour. In the interim the B.C. government is also contributing financially for a business-case report on the feasibility of the high-speed train link, bringing these two Cascadia cities closer together along the “innovation corridor”.
The Great Freeway Fight is one of the key mythologies of post-war Vancouver, still referenced as a key to understanding this place. But at exactly the same time – late 1960s to 1972 – a parallel fight was happening in Seattle. While I-5 had been built (and was used explicitly by the Vancouver Planning Commission to oppose the Chinatown Freeway), Seattle citizens were organizing to oppose two more freeways.
The so-called Freeway Revolt didn’t just determine the fate of Seattle’s built environment — halting the development of the proposed R.H. Thomson Expressway and Bay Freeway — it was also a galvanizing force in local politics, according to a new directory released by the Seattle Public Library.
In the late 1960s and 1970s, a broad coalition of activists in Seattle challenged plans for a dense network of freeways traversing and girdling the city. Seattle’s freeway revolt was remarkable in its scope and diversity, uniting geographically, ethnically and socioeconomically diverse groups across the city. Their collective actions over a multi-year period succeeded in halting two major freeways and significantly downsizing a third, saving parks, shoreline and thousands of homes and businesses. …
The freeway revolt was part of a unique period of activism and social change in Seattle, from the anti-war, environmental and Black Power movements to transformation of the Seattle City Council with a “new wave” of political leaders. The well-known “Save the Pike Place Market” initiative passed at the ballot only a few months before voters defeated the R.H. Thomson and Bay Freeways; leaders of the two movements were collaborators and colleagues.
Organizations such as the Seattle Model Cities program, Central Seattle Community Council Federation, Choose an Effective City Council and the Forward Thrust campaign came into being around this time and intersected with the freeway revolt around issues of community empowerment, civic leadership and mass transit.
Like most things, when you look at pedestrian crashes and fatalities, these tragedies can be averted in a very simple way~but there is the cost to motordom of not getting on its vehicular way with the briskness drivers have come to expect. Many of the pedestrian fatalities and serious injuries happen when vehicles are turning left through a marked pedestrian crossing when the pedestrian has the right of way. You can of course go ahead and build substantial infrastructure to narrow streets and build proper infrastructure. But there is one very simple way to save lives at low-cost. That is using the “pedestrian interval” as demonstrated in the YouTube video below.
As this article in CityLab states “Leading Pedestrian Intervals” or LPI s are streetlights that give walkers a head-start before cars venture into an intersection. Given even a few seconds of priority, most people wind up at least halfway into the crosswalk—where they’re plenty visible to drivers—before cars are allowed to go straight or make turns (including the ultra-dangerous left).”
When San Francisco, Los Angeles and Seattle adopted Vision Zero (with the goal of no lives lost to road violence) they also used LPIs at heavily used intersections. “New York City has been a leader, adding 2,201 since 2014 for a total of 2,483 across the boroughs. Now, nearly 20 percent of signalized intersections citywide have LPIs, according to a report by the advocacy group Transportation Alternatives. They give pedestrians a 7- to 10-second head start. Most are located in the city’s highest-risk traffic corridors.
And there are huge cost savings. The average cost of reconfiguring a crosswalk for an LPI is $1,200. As a New York City spokesperson noted “They don’t require any trench digging, concrete pouring, or lane closures. Sometimes new push buttons and controllers are needed; often engineers simply study local traffic patterns and reprogram existing lights.”
Research is showing that the use of LPIs can reduce pedestrian-vehicle collisions by 60 per cent. A 2016 study of 104 intersections in New York City saw a decline in pedestrian and bike fatalities and severe injuries of 40 per cent. A report done by Transportation Alternatives suggests that these “head-start” lights for pedestrians may be the reason for the huge decline in New York City’s pedestrian fatalities, as many are the result of vehicles failing to yield in intersections. As the executive director of Transportation Alternatives states “Dollar for dollar, this is a really smart, life-saving investment that ought to be a part of any city’s effort to eliminate traffic deaths.”
… the store’s real reason for being is to test what could be a breakthrough Amazon hypothesis: that by adding even more convenience to the convenience store model — with the help of a healthy dose of technology — Amazon might be able to carve out a loyal customer base outside of its website and inside a physical store where the vast majority of food and grocery shopping still occurs.
To that end, Amazon Go is outfitted with a cocktail of modern technology that enables shoppers to simply grab items off of shelves and automatically get charged the right amount without stopping to pay upon exit. No lines, no waiting.
While that means no cashiers are necessary, there are still people working at the store. On a recent visit, a greeter stood by the entrance, an ID checker was stationed near the booze, and at least six workers were visible inside the kitchen that passersby can view from the street. …
Shoppers need to download an Amazon Go app to their smartphone, and scan it at a high-tech turnstile upon entering the store.
After that, customers shop like they normally would, except for one crucial exception: when they’ve selected everything they want to purchase, they simply leave the store with the items and don’t stop to pay. If the store’s technology works as it should, their Amazon account is automatically charged for the right stuff they took as soon as they exit.
How? The store is outfitted with cameras and shelf sensors to help Amazon’s computer vision system work some magic. The technologies, in turn, connect you and the phone you scanned at the entrance with the items you grabbed off of shelves and carried out the door. On rare occasions, a human is needed to confirm that the technology got it right. …
Looking ahead, you can bet that Amazon didn’t spend five years building this technology to only use it in one store. … What about rolling out the technology to Whole Foods or Amazon Books locations, as many have speculated the company would do?
“There are no plans to … introduce this technology in any of the other physical settings that we have.”
A unanimous pick by the Price Tags editors for the most Potentially Polarizing Planning Work~The Amazon solicitation from cities right across North America for its first location outside of Seattle. Why? Amazon says it will invest 5 billion dollars (those would be American dollars) in the construction of its second headquarters. Of course over 238 proposals came from cities putting in a bid to Amazon to become the second headquarters. Amazon has had those bids since the middle of October and plans to make the grand announcement in 2018.
And here is where it is polarizing. Of course Vancouver put in a bid, as reported by Price Tags Vancouver here. But there is a good side and a bad side to this. While 50,000 Amazon staff workers would be located here, they will all need a place to live. And while Amazon will bring in new money and salaries, will those tens of thousands of high paying jobs also raise the salaries of local Vancouverites not working with Amazon? Or will those high paying jobs in Amazon make the Vancouver market more unaffordable?
Amazon did have some basic requirements, asking for a city with a one million person population, an international airport and a place that was “stable and business-friendly”. Oh of course, one more thing~Amazon also said “Incentives offered by the state/province and local communities to offset initial capital outlay and ongoing operational costs will be significant factors in the decision-making process.”
Price Tags Vancouver’s Gordie 2017 for most potentially polarizing planning work.
It’s always interesting to see ourselves through other people’s perspectives, and this article from Crosscut.com via Tom Durning contextually examines Vancouver from the Seattle perspective. Writer Gregory Scruggs observes that “Seattle area’s increases in home prices led the nation for the 13th straight month in November, the longest-ever such streak for real estate around Puget Sound. That meteoric rise has made it ever harder for the region’s booming population to buy a home. But if we think it’s difficult in Seattle, look 140 miles north to Vancouver, British Columbia, where experts say house prices are like those of San Francisco but incomes resemble those of sleepy Halifax.”
In discussing the speculative nature of the Vancouver housing market, Scruggs notes that Seattle’s new mayor is going forward with spending $100 million dollars for affordable housing, making the Utility Discount Program more accessible to low-income earners, and setting up a city-wide Rental Housing Assistance Program. Seattle also is afraid of becoming a “hedge city- a place where the global rich park their money in houses and condos that they live in part-time at best but mostly purchase as a safe place to put their assets.”
With housing being treated as an investment commodity, Scruggs sees Canadian immigration policy as allowing “well-heeled foreigners” to live in Vancouver and buy luxury condos. He points out that a Washington law discourages condo development and apartments are the norm, with locals in the tech industry “making the kind of salaries that can afford now-expensive Craftsmans, though believers in speculative influence suggest that even tech money can’t explain Seattle’s current price boom.”
Scruggs reviews the Canada Mortgage and Housing (CMHC) research on speculative purchases, the Foreign Buyers Tax and the Empty Homes Tax, and suggests that Seattle housing will not be at the critical affordability level as Vancouver until prices rise another 20 to 30 per cent. Scruggs also spoke with several Vancouver experts including the Duke of Data Simon Fraser University’s Andy Yan who noted that because of power delegated to counties in the United States, “you are able to respond in a much more agile way than metro Vancouver”. University of British Columbia’s Business Professor Tom Davidoff notes that Seattle could adapt a Seattle-specific measure “to set high property taxes that could be rebated for property owners paying income tax at that address, or landlord with long-term tenants”.
This is being discussed for Metro Vancouver as part of the BC Housing Affordability Fund with the current Provincial government. As Tom Davidoff states this fund would flush out who is legitimately in the housing market. “If you’re not paying income tax at that address and you’re not a landlord, then what are you?” Davidoff asks. “You must have brought the money in from elsewhere.”
The full text of the article is available here.
From the Seattle Times via Guest
Several months into the transportation experiment, three bike-share companies have already scattered some 4,000 bikes around the city. And, boy, are they scattered
“What I think has sadly happened is we didn’t teach the users on the etiquette how to properly leave the bikes after use. I’ve seen too many sidewalks left impassable with bikes strewn about. I can’t imagine how someone with a wheelchair or walker would deal with blocked sidewalks and an inability to move these heavy pieces of equipment.”—Kevin Clark
I was amazed. Having not been in Seattle for a few months, I didn’t realize what was happening with bike share – until I saw this:
And then this:
They’re Spin and Lime Bikes – two of three bikeshare companies that have, since July, started business in Seattle as private-sector initiatives after the failure of the city-subsidized Pronto system. They don’t need docking stations; they’re just standing there – free floating – waiting for a rider to come by and unlock them with a phone.
Seattle Bike Blog provides the details here.
Within the downtown and inner neighbourhoods, they’re everywhere.
There’s a third one too – ofo, which is China-based (where all the GPS-enabled bikes come from, by the thousands). Apparently they’re doing pretty well, according to the Seattle Bike Blog, (though no one I talked to could figure out the economic model):
Free-floating bike share is working in Seattle. Or at least it sure appears that way according to the city’s first analysis of anonymized private bike share data.
In just two months, people have already taken 120,000 trips on the bikes. And because companies are steadily increasing the number of bikes on the streets, the number of rides each day continues to grow at a steep rate. 6,000 bikes are currently permitted, but SDOT’s Kyle Rowe told the Committee that he estimates the actual number on the ground now is closer to 4,000 and increasingly daily.
“Mobike (a China-based bike share giant that rivals ofo), Spin and LimeBike,” according to the blog, “are launching in Washington DC. …” So, if they’re successful, is it just a matter of time before they arrive in Vancouver?
Will they displace Mobi or – like Car2Go and Evo compared to MoDo – will they complement each other, grow the market, add choice, and, once again, frustrate those who can’t believe that cycling is really a serious option and why do we need those damn bike lanes anyway …