While the actual event might be done, the errands definitely are not. One of the things that I really liked about the Errandonnee was that the categories forced most people into doing something new. Or the Errundonnee is my case. Sure, I ran to work and for the odd errand, but it’s pretty easy to settle into a routine, for better or worse. The Errandonnee forces you to seek out new destinations.
So on Saturday I found myself with two tasks: drop off four baby carriers in the Crossroads area of Bellevue and pick up a book at the Bellevue library. So, in the backpack went the carriers and I was off. The first route was known, and it was pleasant. I was actually going a bit further than the Mall, and I hadn’t realized that NE 8th St drops to three lanes over to the east. It’s just amazing how much more pleasant it is there. With the drop-off done, I then needed to go to the library, which is on the north end of downtown. I could have gotten partway there reasonably by staying south of 8th, but the overall trip would have been a bit too much anyway, so I decided to grab a bus to downtown. This worked, though I fell victim to the car-centric design as is too often the case. I was at 8th and 156th looking for the RapidRide B. One Bus Away (a local bus app) reported that the next bus was three minutes away from 10th and 156th. That seemed tight, especially with the crossing of 8th. Instead I headed towards 8th and 148th, a half mile to the west. It was downhill, so I figured I could get there in 3-4 minutes. The bus would have to navigate the turn and that distance as well. Unfortunately, I didn’t fully think through getting to the actual stop:
I made it to the SE corner with some time, but I missed the pedestrian crossing to the north, and by time the next one rolled around, the bus was gone. It turned out if I had made this first crossing, then the ensuing left turn cycles (both for N/S and then E/W) would have provided cover for the two half crossings to the west. A mid-block crossing of 8th would have been enough, but it’s 5 lanes. Alas, such is the life of a pedestrian.
Then I started thinking about the bus, which was also stopped at the intersection for a while. How much time does this one intersection contribute to the schedule? And while on one hand they are both large streets (just look at that intersection!), it’s just a random intersection of roads without a whole lot nearby. If the B could make its trip unencumbered, would it halve the time between buses? Or reduce the number the buses needed? I wonder if some fancy signal prioritization and dedicated space could make buses much more practical even in a suburb.
The Bellevue library is nice – big and new and shiny. It’s about twice as far as Kirkland for us, and definitely further than Redmond as well. While it has almost the same elevation change, it’s spread out much more nicely. In fact, I could see choosing to go there for this reason. Unfortunately, it isn’t going to happen anytime soon by bike for us. There is a brief stretch of downtown that would be uncomfortable. I suppose the sidewalks would work for that distance but only if they were pretty much empty. The 12th St bridge has a wide pathway on the north. Going home, we could use the crosswalk and turn left onto 116th. Going to the library, supposedly they are going to improve the turn onto the path. 116th itself is currently scary (no bike facilities at all), but there is a project to change that. Unfortunately, the idea of affecting the level of service (LOS – a vehicle-only measure) is a blocker to doing anything in Bellevue, so there will be mid-block bike lanes with scary intersections at both ends. Then there’s a short stretch of Northup, which is also scary but has a project. This is a major project, not just a restriping, and unfortunately it will only be (unprotected) bike lanes on a busy road. And since it is major, it won’t be further improved for a long time. Opportunity lost! 116th Ave on our side of Northup is mixed. Southbound (downhill), there are no bike facilities, which works for racers, but not a family ride. Northbound (uphill) has a bike lane. The Bellevue portion has a gravel path which is nice for running; the Kirkland half is sketchy for pedestrians. After that we can get home on residential streets.
It was a pleasant enough run back home. With some material for a future post…