On Growth, Transit, and Bikes in Vancouver B.C.

The entire city center is wrapped by a continuous multi-use trail, making for an excellent transportation, exercise, recreation, and people-watching corridor.

Vancouver’s entire city center is wrapped by a continuous multi-use shoreline trail, making for an excellent transportation, exercise, recreation, and people-watching amenity. Photo by the author.

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of visiting Vancouver, B.C. again and have finally gotten around to writing about it. I managed to stay for a weekend instead of 30 hours and had a real excuse to go: the SCARP Symposium. Planning students at the University of British Columbia (UBC) put on the seventh iteration of this annual one-day event about urban issues in Vancouver and the greater region. First up, the most important things I saw and heard at the symposium that other Northwesterners may be interested in. I’ll tie that into the city’s ongoing transportation referendum and my experience of the city by bike, which I hauled up via Amtrak.

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Posted in Biking, Climate, Event Writeup, Government, Public Space, Sustainability, Transportation | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Top Apps Emerge from Seattle’s Commute Hackathon

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Candace Faber of Whoa Strategies emceed the event. Photo by the author.

At the end of Seattle’s Hack the Commute on Sunday night the judges selected three potentially game-changing software applications for further development. Over the weekend 14 volunteer teams of data scientists, transportation experts, designers, and software developers created prototypes of smartphone tools that could improve the travel experience across all modes in the city. While nearly all of the teams’ work was innovative,  the top three discussed here will get additional support and will refine their presentations during a championship round next month.

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Seattle to Ask Voters for $900 Million in Transportation Funding

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4th Avenue in downtown Seattle. Photo by the author.

In November the City of Seattle will ask voters for a property tax levy to put money where their mouth is on the Move Seattle transportation vision (PDF). Approval would supplant the expiring $365 million Bridging the Gap funding with an ambitious nine-year $900 million levy. Earlier this month Mayor Ed Murray unveiled the list of priority projects this money would go to, with a little something for everybody. Half of the Bicycle Master Plan network would be built out, 16 bridges would be reinforced, 250 lane-miles would be repaired, and 100 blocks of new sidewalks would be built, for starters. In conjunction with the City’s new Vision Zero target, Move Seattle has the potential to radically transform Seattle streets for the better.

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Posted in Biking, Buses, Cars, Parking, Rail, Roads, Schools, Sustainability, Transportation, Walking | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

CascadiaCast Episode 2: Cory Crocker

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This week I’m joined by Cory Crocker, an active University District resident who helps head up U District Square. The group is working to secure parks and open space amenities as the cory-crockerneighborhood rapidly grows and faces a population boom with the arrival of a light rail station in only six short years. The U-District has a dearth of open space that the city is trying to address, and Cory is passionate about the option of a large central plaza. He’s also been working on a streetscape project with a new parklet and possible sidewalk cafes. We also discussed the medley of transportation and housing options in the neighborhood and recent trends in the design and management of public space.

I’m still learning as I go and it’s now much more obvious a noisy coffee shop isn’t the best location for recording audio; headphones may improve the listening experience this episode. But as promised, the series is now available on iTunes (search for “CascadiaCast”). You can also subscribe via RSS: http://northwesturbanist.libsyn.com/rss.

Episode 2 | 28 minutes | Download (16.3 MB) or stream below.

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Cory’s model of a possible NE 43rd Street design. Photo courtesy of Cory Crocker.

Posted in CascadiaCast, Density, Housing, Land Use, Parks, Public Space, Transportation | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Open Letter: Build a Green Lake Supertrail

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Members of Seattle City Council and Parks Superintendent Christopher Williams,

I write to you with sincere concern for the well being of my fellow citizens using the three mile long trail around Green Lake Park. It is consistently overcrowded, and slow ground-walkers often spill over into the area intended for those on wheels. This letter is sparked by several incidents during an afternoon leisure tour last Sunday, when clear skies drew residents out of the Craftsman-style woodwork and I nearly destroyed several small children and excited dogs while riding my bike.

Fear not, I have a novel idea for solving this dangerous situation. I will preface by saying there is no urban  problem that cannot be solved by the proper application of asphalt. Let’s widen the trail, but not leave it at that. We need to divide the trail into zones suitable for each type of trail user. The joggers, stroller-pushing mothers, and high-speed two-wheelers such as myself all have very different spatial needs.

Trail SectionNow, Council, I know what you’re thinking. Dogs and babies don’t pay taxes, so why should they get their own lanes? And surely, lone meanderers could save space by holding hands with strangers instead of traveling solo. But consider that us cyclists don’t even pay for roads! Surely we can all enjoy a little freeloading now and then together as a community.

Another innovation here is that the trail will be made one-way, in the counter-clockwise direction, because that is the current predominant flow. Why that is I cannot say, but it would be a fascinating experiment to compare with a similar park in the southern hemisphere. Nonetheless, there are many nonconformers who travel in the opposite clockwise direction, so they will require their own basic lane. This also begs a question: is it possible that, symbolically, these people are moving forward in time, and that the rest of us are the backwards savages? Perhaps we will all eventually come around to circumnavigating the lake in the other direction, having been enlightened by some noble naysayer. Thankfully, this proposed design is inherently adaptive to a contraflow configuration, contributing to “future proofing”, “resilience”, and “climate change mitigation”.

I appreciate your consideration in this important matter, and look forward to hearing your thoughts. I will be in touch next week about further reducing congestion with a cross-lake floating bike bridge.

Best Regards,
Scott Bonjukian, Founder, Concerned Cyclists of Seattle

Posted in Biking, Editorial, Parks, Transportation, Walking | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Metro Proposes Bus Restructures Around New Light Rail Stations

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UPDATE:  Metro released formal alternatives on Thursday. The new information and maps have been updated throughout this post. Check the Metro website for full details.

This week King County Metro and Sound Transit will jointly release two alternatives for bus service restructures to happen in 2016. The effort is intended to better connect riders with two new Link light rail stations opening one year from now, nine months ahead of schedule, in Capitol Hill and the University District. I’m a member of the citizen ‘sounding board’ on the project but the opinions here are my own.

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Mayor Leads Scripted U-District Community Walk

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On Saturday Seattle mayor Ed Murray continued his series of “Find It, Fix It” walks with residents of the University District. The event drew a large crowd and media presence, and wound through the neighborhood’s core with a police escort. Though named after a smartphone application that lets citizens quickly report problems like potholes, graffiti, and broken streetlights, the event focused more on projects and important figures in the neighborhood rather than infrastructure. This left little opportunity for citizens to directly engage with the mayor.

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