2017 Errundonnee Day 1 and I have no furniture

It’s here!  The annual what-can-I-stuff-in-my-backpack-or-on-a-stroller adventure.  Alas, I have no broken furniture this year.  And no pressure to come up with something good because that would violate rule #9.

I mean, err,

something good would be fun, not stressful.  So for one of these 12 days, I need a plan, but you don’t get to read about it this time because today is not that day.  And it’s not competitive because if you put two chairs on a stroller it will be awesome and I totally won’t try to do three.

Anyways, here we go.

Day 1 (March 21), Trip #1: Track, groceries, commute: 9.6 miles

The running schedule, which I’m not a slave to – must… run… workout – put me on the track today for 400s.  This is a bit of a problem for an Errundonnee because it forces a destination and then leaves my legs toasted.  How does an errundonneur get to the track?  On foot of course (personal care?).

I was very pleased to learn that these legs still have some good 400s in them.

Anyways, the track isn’t far from a grocery store, so that was stop #2 (store) with photo evidence:

That put me on 85th, which is our nearby should-be-an-awesome-commercial-area-but-instead-is-a-highway.  I don’t run there very often because it and especially the crossings are fairly miserable:

I learned that one of the restaurants on the street (the Pegasus and then renamed Omega for anyone local) shut down, and the space has now been occupied by a pawn shop and a liquor store.  I don’t think the street is doing very well.

I also learned that sometimes nothing happens when I press the button to take a picture, so you are spared a picture of a pawn shop.

From there I saw that the nearby bus was a 20 minute wait, ran towards another line, realized I had no chance, ran towards a third line that I could make, missed that too, ran towards that second line again, and waited a bit for the next one.  So my commute was halfway (see exhibit A: toasted legs).

Day 1 (March 21), Trip #2: Commute: 2.7 miles (12.3 total)

Nothing much to see here.  I ran home, but I can make some stuff up.

I took a picture of a truck parked on a sidewalk, but there was car parked on a sidewalk in the way:

I learned that it’s actually possible for me to get home without having to stop because of cars.  This is no small feat.  First there’s an intersection of two 5-lane roads, and for each cycle there’s a 3 second or so green pedestrian signal.  Well, hitting that would be too much to ask, but the countdown timer is long.  Then there are side streets and another not-quite-as-large intersection.  Nobody had hit the beg button there, but the light was green.  I’ll take it.  Then I have a half mile to find a break in traffic on an arterial-residential street for a mid-block crossing.  That’s pretty easy (waiting for the crosswalk at the end probably means waiting to avoid getting run over in the crosswalk).  By this point I’d realized that I hadn’t stopped, so I was thinking about the two remaining crossings.  The first has a nearly instantaneous beg button (it’s mid-block), but waiting for the light to finish going through the yellow still counts as a stop.  But then someone had hit it on the other side with perfect timing (rare but occasionally happens).  Last is another mid-block crosswalk with no signal.  This one is tough because no one stops, but I hit a break in traffic.  As did a driver turning out of a nearby driveway which was not pleasant.  That’s easily the first time it all worked like that.

Ok, more seriously, as I was carrying those three boxes of granola home, I was thinking about past Errundonnees and trying new things.  It dawned on me how normal all of this transportation running has become.  For me, that is – I’m still the crazy guy that actually runs places.  I’ll still try to find something new, and while I might get lucky and figure out something ridiculous and new to haul, it will probably be something that I’d be tempted to try even without the Errundonnee now.  Like last month with the stroller to take one of the 3 year olds to a swimming lesson, then a brief workout down the Cross Kirkland Corridor trail, and then picking up a light fixture and other odds and ends at a hardware store.  No big deal.

Advertisements

Drive Like Your Family Lives Here

You’ve probably seen campaigns like it.  New York City ran one aimed at cab drivers and city workers.  Their video is heart-wrenching.  Or another one: Slow Down – My Mommy/Daddy Works Here.

Tragedies occur daily on our streets.  And collectively we try to ignore them.  They’re just numbers.  If we think about them too much, we find our way of life attacked, so we avoid doing so.  These campaigns force us to think about them.  They (re-)humanize the tragedies.

What if you were about the drive a route and you absolutely knew that you would be crossing paths with your family?  What would you do?  Would it be different than if you knew you would be crossing paths with someone outside of your family?

I recently had this “opportunity”.  Michelle and the kids were coming back from the store, and I was heading out.  I didn’t know if they were on foot or bike, but they were coming.  It wasn’t just a “maybe”; we had exchanged texts before I left and they had left the store.  Maybe this is more common for those with different travel patterns, but the certainty of it struck me.  And so I was confronted with the questions:  What would I do?   Would it be different from normal?

The biggest thing was that I was confronted by the power of the motor vehicle.  We talk about it, but here it was.  If I made one stupid mistake…  Such power just shouldn’t be wielded haphazardly, yet how often it is.  I’d be lying if I said this situation had absolutely no effect on my driving, but I was happy to find that the effect was pretty small.  The route has a curve that puts the left A-pillar in a terrible spot.  That freaked me out, but I usually peak around it constantly.  I went slowly, maybe a MPH or two slower than usual, but not a huge amount.

It was a good educational experience.  I darn well should continue looking around that curve.  I can slow down more than usual.  Even when I’m in a hurry.  And on other streets too.  And I can continue to minimize the trips that I take by car.  It’s worth it.

The toddlers waved from the bike.  My family was behind me, but others were ahead.

What if we protested cars like we protest everything else?

Car hearing January 30

A group called Citizens for a Livable Waterfront (CLW) has formed to oppose a vehicle operation proposed at Carillon Point in Kirkland, and has hired a noise consultant to testify at a public hearing to be held on January 30 at Kirkland City Hall.

The group is concerned about the noise disturbance to homes, parks, and businesses along the driving path. Although a noise study has not been conducted, the City of Kirkland’s Planning Department recently issued an environmental “determination of non-significance,” which CLW has appealed. At the public hearing in January, the hearing examiner will consider both the appeal and the permit application. CLW is asking that the permit applicant, Carillon Properties, be required to conduct a noise study.

Carillon Properties is requesting that Seattle-based Diamond Parking Services be allowed to offer car storage year-round from 9 am to dusk. The initial request is for one lane to access the storage location: a batch of arrivals in the morning, a batch of departures in the evening, and some passes along the lakefront during the day. The parking operation would require a Shoreline Conditional Use Permit.

Shoreline regulations are intended to protect human health as well as the natural environment. Local governments define conditional uses that are not preferred or allowed outright but may be permitted when specified conditions are met. The State Department of Ecology has the final say.

A CLW member says, “The waterfront is what makes Kirkland special. People come here to enjoy the parks, trails, restaurants, and waterfront activities. Car noise is intrusive. Once we allow a car operation, we can never go back. We are asking that the city put the brakes on and allow time for a thorough noise review and community conversation.”

The group points out that there are already parking operations in nearby Kenmore, and in Seattle. They are also concerned that if a permit is issued, the number of trips could increase over time. The President of the Bellevue Downtown Association says that is exactly what has happened there, and adds, “Once the cars are in, they are almost impossible to get out.”

Before it was shut down in late 2016, the cars were operating without a permit. The city received over 100 letters opposing the car operation, many from residents stating that the noise made it impossible to have conversations inside their homes even with the windows closed.

Numerous studies indicate the harmful effects of noise in our daily lives. Former U.S. Surgeon General William H. Stewart said in 1978, “Calling noise a nuisance is like calling smog an inconvenience. Noise must be considered a hazard to the health of people everywhere.”

One study in the Southern Medical Journal stated: “The potential health effects of noise pollution are numerous, pervasive, persistent, and medically and socially significant. The aim of enlightened governmental controls should be to protect citizens from the adverse effects of [noise] pollution.” Kirkland Councilmember Toby Nixon believes that “A fundamental purpose of government is to protect people’s right to be able to peacefully enjoy the use of their own property.”

Noise is not the only concern. The owner of Perfect Roll, which rents bicycles and skateboards at Houghton Beach Park, just north of Carillon Point, is concerned about safety, and losing business due to the cars. “I had a couple of close calls personally,” he said, “and I’m good at maneuvering. If customers are afraid to go on the roads, it affects my bottom line. One mom said, ‘Would you let your kids play on a road? Shouldn’t everyone get off of the road when the cars are driving?’”

In a letter to the City of Kirkland, Eastside Audubon Society stated that the organization is opposed to the parking operation because of the danger to protected wildlife. “The cars would be too disruptive to birds resting and feeding along the shore, especially over the winter months. This area of Lake Washington is a major wintering ground for many species such as dark-eyed juncos.”

[based on https://kirklandviews.com/opinion/seaplane-hearing-january-30/]

Dear Signals People: Pedestrian movements don’t conflict with each other

And this isn’t even about scrambles (a.k.a. the Barnes Dance) and diagonal crosswalks.

No, it’s simpler.  People walking in different crosswalks aren’t going to crash into each other and hurt or kill themselves.  They’re not cars.

However, we treat them that way because people are an afterthought in signal design.  Here are two examples from Redmond, WA.

#1: NE 51st St. and 156 Ave NE

A little context: North is up in the image.  SR 520 is to the west (hence the slip lane to keep it highway-like), Microsoft and low-rise apartments are to the south, single-family housing and a minor arterial are to the east, and single-family homes and lots of rat running (a story for another time) are to the north.

51st-base

We’ll concentrate on traffic from the north and south.  For car reasons, these are separated into two straight-and-left signals.  Traffic from the north goes first, then from the south, and then the east/west phases.  Pedestrians are given a green when they can be hit by right-turning but not left-turning cars.

During PM rush hour, there isn’t a lot of car traffic from the north, but sometimes people want to use the crosswalk on the west side of the intersection.  When this happens, the car traffic, if it even exists, clears out quickly, but of course there is a long pedestrian count because the intersection is large.  During this time, people driving figure out that no cars are moving, and the right-turns-on-red heading to the east begin:

51st-from-n-x

Now there’s a stream of cars making that turn (generally without stopping) when the signal changes, which means that if you’re a person trying to cross on the east side of the intersection, there are cars moving across the crosswalk when you get a green.  Or effectively a leading car interval.

Better would be to end the useless car green during the pedestrian crossing is occurring.  Then the eastside crossing could overlap with the west side:

51st-ped-n-s

Then when the west side crossing is done, the intersection can transition into the normal phase that allows traffic from the south to go.  And you get a leading pedestrian interval for free.

#2 W Lake Sammamish Pkwy NE and NE Marymoor Way (Sammamish River Trail crossing)

marymoor-base

A little context: North is up in the image.  I’ll refer to northwest as north (and so on).  North/south is a major arterial.  To the east is Marymoor Park, which has light traffic unless there is an event.

There isn’t a marked crosswalk or pedestrian signal across the north side.  The south side is matched with turns (but no conflicts!).  The east side gets the usual conflict with right turns.

As before, the turn pockets are exhausted before the pedestrian phase is finished (5 lane crossing!), so everyone else sits idle:

marymoor-ped-ew-x

Instead, the east side crosswalk could be activated, and again this would give a leading pedestrian interval before the turning traffic starts:

marymoor-all-ped

And shouldn’t the major trail be getting priority here anyway?

Walking Routes to Bellevue Have Gone from Bad to Nonexistent

I ran down to Bellevue today with the stroller as a cargo hauler for stops at Uwajimaya and Total Wine, and wow are things in bad shape.  I don’t think I can make this trip anymore until things settle down.

Here are the blockages that I know about from this trip:

bmap1

120th Ave (location “A”) is completely closed to cars and people.  It’s a giant construction site with machinery everywhere.

124th Ave (location “B”) is a pretty terrible street to begin with.  Sidewalks are mostly missing.  It has large shoulders that one might use, but a lot of them are taken up by trucks.  And some of the few stretches of sidewalk are closed (in the distance you can see a truck blocking the right-side shoulder):

I don’t have a lot of optimism for the Spring District’s transit/bike/walk friendliness.  One of the exits is mostly complete:

The fence is at the existing sidewalk location, so the intersection is going to be huge.  Multiple exit lanes will help ensure car dependence in the area.  And it doesn’t look very good for bike infrastructure.  But I suppose I digress…

116th Ave has no access at all from the north or east because of the intersection at Northup and the other 116th Ave (location “C”).  Zooming in:

bmap2

The northwest corner of the intersection is completely closed to pedestrians as well as the sidewalks leading to it.  This means the crosswalks along the north and west sides of the intersection are unusable.  There isn’t a crosswalk or a signal along the east side of the intersection.  And if you try to go an intersection to the east, you’ll then discover that the south side of Northup doesn’t have a sidewalk.  You might be able to stumble through construction cones and gravel.  (It eventually will have a sidewalk, but a future sidewalk doesn’t make for a very good detour today.)

[Update: September 14th, 2016:

I went back and looked at that south side of Northup again.  There is a temporary path on the shoulder that is guarded by traffic pylons.  One could walk through here.  When I looked during my previous trip, it didn’t register as a possible route.  One could probably get a single stroller through, but a double or a wheelchair would be difficult.  Here are some pictures:

If you come down 24th, then there is a detour sign pointing this way, but if you come down 116th from Kirkland, then you get this confusing sign:

The busy intersection doesn’t have a crosswalk to the left of the picture, and to the right is the wrong direction.

]

The end result of this is that 116th, 120th, and 124th are unusable.  The next crossing to the west is at 108th (a half mile west and you have to backtrack north).  The next crossings to the east are at 130th and 132nd (almost a half mile east), which also have intermittent sidewalks but hopefully no construction.

The hope for the area is supposed to be the ERC (Eastside Rail Corridor), which Kirkland, Bellevue, and King County have all shown interest in opening to people (especially Kirkland with the CKC (Cross Kirkland Corridor)).  However, at this point it looks like this stretch is going to be held hostage by Sound Transit for years or decades.

In other words, don’t try to walk in Bellevue.

 

I Quit Bike-Commuting

In fact, I’ve quit riding pretty much anywhere with the exception of our church and family outings. There are a variety of reasons, but I’ll be blunt with the main one. Bike infrastructure on the east side is terrible, and I don’t want to deal with it anymore at commute times. WSDOT, Redmond, Kirkland, and Bellevue are all part of this. WSDOT and Redmond make my commute miserable, which would be a common ride. Kirkland is puttering along with their Transportation Master Plan which says that biking is important unless it involves doing anything involving traffic (but maybe, just maybe, I’m hearing baby steps – the 100th Ave project is a big test). And Bellevue is Bellevue (though surprisingly there is some hope that Bellevue doesn’t want to be Bellevue anymore).

On the bright side, I’m running to most places that I need to be. Pedestrian infrastructure, while not very good, isn’t as bad as bicycle infrastructure. Plus, of course, running is my hobby. So I can understand why almost all east side bicyclists are hobbyists, which is an almost insignificant group as far as trip mode share is concerned. I can also take Metro 245 to a number of places, but that’s about it for reasonable transit.

The Route Itself

Anyways, let’s go back to the bike commute. It’s a bit under 4 miles in each direction: Old Redmond Rd to 152nd Ave to the 520 trail. There’s about 150 feet of climbing to work and 300 feet to get back home. I’m not going to discuss other deterrents in this post, but relevant to the infrastructure complaint is that there would be less climbing if the best route topographically didn’t consist of arterials with no bike infrastructure. 148th Ave is more direct and much flatter than 152nd/520 trail, but it’s a five lane 40 mph arterial. Here’s the route:

There are 3 major intersections going down Old Redmond Road (132nd, 140th, 148th). They provide three different examples of unprotected intersections, none of which work. 132nd maintains paint-only bike lanes through the intersection; here you can get right-hooked (just came across this today).

140th ends the bike lane before the intersection; here you get to play with cars.

148th has a slip lane (a.k.a. freeway onramp); here you get run over by moving in a blind spot (but at least the main intersection doesn’t have any right turns).

Outside of the intersections, Old Redmond Road is still fairly stressful. I think I would probably be ok riding by myself (but definitely not with the kids) if it actually had 5 foot painted bike lanes. However, it doesn’t. At best it reaches 5 feet counting the gutter, and in a lot of places it is narrower. There is also a manhole cover gauntlet. The car lane is better, but there are strategically placed covers to get you there too. Switching back and forth between the bike lane and the car lane would be best but only if you get the right breaks in traffic. Or you can ride the brakes and hope you don’t wipe out on them.

This is just between 132nd and 140th:







and coming back up the hill isn’t a whole lot better. The second one is particularly problematic because the road dips steeply from the white line to the cover.


Of course it continues after 140th (the third has been improved but not moved):


After 148th, the lane is so narrow that the bike stencil doesn’t fit!



The neighborhood streets between Old Redmond Road and the 520 trail work well. They are fairly quiet, and Redmond recently painted sharrows. This is a case where sharrows “work” because they provide a reminder on a street that already works. While the streets are too wide, as pretty much all of our residential streets are, the stop sign and turn seem to be enough to keep car traffic over on 154th (which sadly is a classic “residential arterial”).



The 520 trail is nice, though on the narrow side when the racers are blasting down the hill (the direction of these pictures is the reverse of how I’ve been describing the route):



However, it is also plagued by terrible intersections at 51st and 40th. These are the scariest part of the commute and why I can’t take WSDOT or Redmond seriously when they talk about bicycling. These are easily the biggest reasons why I avoid bike-commuting.

51st:

40th:

I counted 11 near misses in 2 hours when I did the pedestrian/bicycle count last year. I wrote a lot about the details of 40th back here (note that 51st is a copy of the geometry of 40th though not as busy). There have been minor changes since then. The order of the signal phases at 40th was changed with a positive effect. The right turn pocket to the 520 on-ramp is now cleared right before the trail signal. Previously the trail signal would provide the first “opening” for right-turns-on-red. Also, at some expense, the curbs on the corners for the trail were slightly adjusted to improve angles. This has had fairly little effect as far as I can tell.

There are some obvious real improvements that could be made here. A real curb bulb on the on-ramp (since the on-ramp is two lanes wide, maybe the opening could be reduced to two lanes wide too) is what the previous curb adjustment should have been. There is no reasonable excuse for allowing either right-turn-on-red across the trail. Allowing right-turn-on-green across a trail green is equally inexcusable. But time and time again, we are told that car traffic is more important. How many people avoid biking because of these decisions?

The magic solution for 40th is a state-funded tunnel (and a separately funded bridge across 520).  These will be huge improvements, but there are three problems. (1) There are no plans for improving safety before the tunnel project is finished. We know how to make improvements today. (2) There are no plans for improving 51st. I can’t get to the tunnel at 40th if I can’t get past 51st. (3) The funding story for ped/bike improvements is so broken that a tunnel is a huge amount of money to spend.  We know how to fix this intersection and every other, and it would take very little money to do so. Paint, planters, and posts, and a willingness to slow down the cars would significantly improve safety at a price of some car throughput. How many intersections could we fix for the cost of this tunnel?

These intersections are unsafe because of cars, not people biking and walking. The funding for making the intersection safer should not come out of ped/bike funding, it should come out of general transportation funding. If we really cannot impact car throughput for safety, then the tunnel is a car throughput project, not a safety project. A tunnel isn’t the only way to improve this intersection, but it is the one that doesn’t impact car throughput.

I don’t believe that WSDOT and Redmond are serious about road safety at all.  The evidence at places like 51st simply doesn’t allow it. Instead the tunnel was a single project aimed at shutting up the safety advocates – or just another piece of pork – so that a massive roads package could be passed.

More Transportation Logistics from 520 Go Long / Grand Opening

Beyond the bridge itself, the 520 grand opening events led to a number of transportation choices, some of which worked better than others.  Michelle already discussed getting herself and the kids to the family event and the trip back home.  I had to pick up a race packet and go to the early morning race, and the day gave me some more thoughts on buses that I wanted to write about.  The first section is just about an eastside bus trip.  The second is about the trip into Seattle.  The final is about buses in general.

My race report is available here.

Race Packet Pickup

I generally like to pick up my race packet before race morning in order to simplify race day plans.  As you’ll see in the next section, this was especially true for this one.  There was an eastside packet pickup at the unfortunately located Road Runner Sports.  It’s on Northup Way in Bellevue, a running store about 3 miles from our house that I’ve never been to for exactly that reason.  It’s completely inaccessible by bike.  Running there would normally be the obvious choice for me, but ironically my race preparation already had given me a hard run that morning and I wasn’t looking to double.  I don’t feel particularly bad about not having the chance to run down Northup’s sidewalks (where they exist anyway).  I decided to look into the buses.  Generally I only ride the 245 and the B because they give me one seat rides to/from home or work, so this would be some new routes for me.

Here’s the route that I ended up using:

520-pickup-map

marked up route image from Metro’s system map

I started in the SE corner with a half mile walk to the 249.  The 249 runs every half hour, which is terrible and must be timed well.  As is often the case, One Bus Away had no information about the bus.  I managed to arrive 5 minutes early, and it was only 1 minute late.  The drop-off was only one driveway away from the running store, and the person driving a car out of that driveway even stopped!  So far so good.

As I was walking up to the store, I got an email that packet pickup has been canceled due to unforeseen circumstances.  I later heard a rumor that it was due to some “Bellevue traffic thing”.  I don’t know if that was accurate, but with hundreds (at least?) of people picking up packets, it’s obvious that a parking lot would never work and the line would spill out on Northup.  So it’s plausible that this was deemed unacceptable because of commuters.  Cars.  Anyways, the pickup was still going on, and I was successful.

At this point, I could have ridden the 249 back to my usual 245 to home, but the half hour schedule made this unattractive.  If I were more savvy I would have decided on-the-fly and possibly fit in some browsing to make this work.  Instead I did a bit of browsing and headed over to the 234/5, either of which would work and run every half hour, where of course I barely missed one after jogging the half mile or so.  This left a scheduled 10 minute wait, which became about 15 minutes with very little warning from OBA (stuck in traffic just nearby or bad OBA data, who knows…).  This took me to Houghton, where I had another half mile jog to catch a 245 (or have another 15 minute wait).

In the end, I had about a half hour trip to get there and 45-50 minutes to then get home, and it would have been longer if I hadn’t been willing or able to jog.  This is pretty bad as these trips just weren’t that far.  It’s a somewhat difficult trip because Bridle Trails State Park leaves a void in the transit map.  In retrospect, driving early in the afternoon would have been a better trip, but that would have meant driving to work too.  It’s easy to see how people end up driving everywhere.

Getting to the Race

This was tricky.  The scheduled race time was 7:30am, which meant that I wanted to be there around 6:30.  The 520 bridge, not so coincidentally, was closed.  Drive there?  A maps estimate said 37 minutes, so I’d have to leave at around 5:50.  However, how many of the 13,000 participants would be driving?  While I would probably arrive earlier than most and be ok, this didn’t seem very reliable, so 5:30?  It annoys me to drive in order to run anyway, so next up was the bus.  The first 255 on Saturdays leaves downtown Kirkland at 5:46.  However, if I left a bike there then I wouldn’t have a good way to get back to it later because I was planning on using a 520 shuttle with the family.  That meant the South Kirkland P&R, or 3.5 miles of biking+locking to catch it at 5:54.  This could have worked, conservatively leaving the house at 5:30.  However, the family was going to the Houghton P&R, and I wasn’t so excited about biking back up the hill at the end of the day.  The best solution however, was to not need to deal with a bike at all.  By also leaving around 5:30, I could simply jog the 1.5 miles to the closest stop (Houghton), and at the end of the day the Houghton P&R is within a mile of our house (and mostly on top of the hill).

The bus was a tight schedule.  It would have been easy with the normal 520 routing to the Montlake freeway station, but instead it had I-90 routing to the transit tunnel.  The schedule said 6:16, but it would clearly be late, and then Link only runs every 12 minutes.  On the bright side, Link wouldn’t get stuck in any traffic, so at least the arrival would be reliable.  Of course, the 255 schedule seems to rely on low ridership, so it was about 10 minutes late before heading to I-90.  After that, the ride and connection to Link were smooth, and I probably arrived around 6:40.  I then lucked out when they started 5 minutes late as I was just able to finish warming up in time.

Buses

Given my difficulties in the above two trips and then the fiasco getting people off of the 520 bridge at the end of the day, it would be natural to complain about buses.  Then, by extension, light rail would probably be the solution.  However, I don’t think that’s the case.

Instead, I think the lesson is that this was simply a result of buses done poorly.  My first trip was mainly a victim of infrequent buses.  It’s easy to see why people focus on one-seat rides and talk about a “transfer penalty”.  When you can control when you start your trip, you can (partially) deal with an infrequent schedule.  With a transfer you generally can’t, and the same held for when I finished my errand.  This pretty much rules out such trips unless one has no alternatives.  That’s why I was jogging to the stops.

ST2/3 don’t really offer anything for this trip.  This is mainly because the trip is too local and not really relevant to Sound Transit.  With East Link I’d have reliable service from my office and a >1 mile walk to this store.  It would be similar with a bus connection to return home.  The proposed ST3 line to nowhere is irrelevant.  Bus frequency would have helped a lot, and if frequency made some connections work to shorten the walks then it would be even better.

The morning trip to the race offers a similar story – not about frequency but about how we handle our bus routes.  Certainly Link was the best part of the trip, but getting from downtown to the U District wasn’t the problem I even wanted to solve.  The 255 route does exactly what I wanted.  Why were we rerouting buses the entire weekend?  Yes, there were windows in the weekend where the running and biking events used the entire west approach, but that’s no excuse to ruin the transit system for the weekend.

Lastly, the bus shuttle system failed badly to get everyone off of the bridge at the end of the day.  There were some early signs with the wait to get onto the bridge for the party, especially near the South Kirkland P&R as the buses were stuck in traffic from people driving to that P&R.  Right there we saw the failure of park and rides to scale and also the inevitable reliability issues from putting buses in general traffic.  Things got worse later as the wait to Seattle ended up being over an hour.  The real capacity issue seemed to be loading, where only a small number of buses would be simultaneously loaded via a small makeshift bridge from the new bridge to the old one.  The number of buses and the long turnaround required might have been issues, but any improvements to them wouldn’t have mattered much with the limitations of the makeshift station.

In the end, I think I better understand why popular opinion is fairly negative about buses.  It’s not a matter of trying to “sell” buses better but rather a need to make them more reliable and convenient, things that we know how to do.