My Rides… (AKA How I Get Around)

Primary Mode:  The Boots (AKA My Two Feet)

Most of my activities center around walking a little bit. It doesn’t take a lot, but I’d suspect I walk 2 or 3x as much as the average American. This aspect of getting around however is more important than any of the others. I’m extremely thankful everyday that I wake up and get to walk somewhere.

Secondary Mode:  Giant Seek Series Bike

My commute, for entertainment, for exercise, and more all comes down to my bike. I have a ~5ish mile commute, which I can accomplish in about 30 minutes with a slow ride, and a 24 minutes with a fast ride. Bus takes 18 minutes early, driving takes 24-45 minutes (depending on traffic), so it works really well for my commute. In insure, with whatever I do or where I live I stay in logical distances of the things I need; grocery store, movies, bars, work (which is often difficult), and all that jazz.  🙂

Tertiary Mode:  King County Transit, Sound Transit, and Amtrak

For a lot of my commuting, I have used the King County Metro System. For the first year I was in Seattle, that’s all I really used, with a few walks to work. Originally my commute was less than a mile to work, now it is about 5. I ride the #44 and #18 a lot to different tech events and other things downtown and in the U-District. I’ve even taken more than a few rides out of downtown on the Sound Transit Light Rail and Sounder Commuter Rail for events, meetings, and other such things.

For holidays, conferences, and other special events in Portland, I frequently ride the Amtrak Cascades. This is a spectacular way to travel between cities, and of course if you control your life and don’t let your schedule do that, the train is easily the most luxurious and relaxing way between these cities.

Last Resort:  ZipCar and Airlines

Sometimes I have to have some sort of car, which is extremely rare. Sometimes I want to go out of the country, or far far away (like the east coast)

So what are your modes of transport that you generally rely upon? Are you walking only, bike only, a heavy transit user and still own a car?

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Open Data for Transit

I’ll be involved in putting together a lot of this, into an application of sorts in an upcoming competition. It’ll be interesting to see what I, or if I work with a team, what we can come up with. There are a lot of options on that table at this point.  🙂

Libertarians Rule, Socialists Rock!

This is a somewhat contrarian blog entry, and yes, it is about transit.

Libertarians are about a serious lack of control. Something I strongly wish the Federal Government would take to heart, for the sake of transit and cities. Socialists have the opposite attitude, and want a very hands on Government, which locally and in cities I find to be a very positive and good thing. As long, of course, that this socialist Government at a city level is for and by the people. Here’s my reasoning.

First the Feds & Libertarianism

The Federal Government, in the United States and other places for that matter, suck at knowing much about local issues. The Federal Government is famous for wanting to make everything cookie cutter for every place, every locale, and not allowing each place to exist as it is. In the United States, the Federal Government has been largely responsible for encouraging a perpetuation of suburban expansion through very socialist policies (wealth redistribution, public roadways, large scale zoning encouraged everywhere, etc).

In Portland and Seattle, two cities that pay far more federal taxes than they ever get back, suffer because of Federal Wealth Redistribution through roadway construction, welfare, and other notions. In reality, the cities would be much better off without the Federal intrusion into individual’s coffers and incomes. I’ll add more about this in a minute.

Now for Socialism at a Local Level

At a local level, in a city, socialism works. Why does it work? Easy, it is the way people behave in the first place. We are a social animal, and we work together to achieve larger cities, greater inventions, new thoughts, and expansion of the human experience!

In Seattle and Portland especially, the cities basically pay for their own infrastructure plus the surrounding areas infrastructure. That includes thousands of miles of roads and such that expand far past the edges of the city. That’s fine, and those roadways have existed and would exist without Federal intrusion. It’s because cities will work together for connections, just as they do within the city itself.

What would this give us? If we achieved this split among Federal, State, and Local Politics? What would happen if cities actually could keep 100%, or even just 60% or 90% of that revenue that flows out? Here are some thoughts about that…

  1. Cities like Portland and Seattle would have even more extensive infrastructure (as they did 100 years ago, per capita, we’re pretty weak in the infrastructure department these days).
  2. Portland and Seattle would have happier people, less cars, and more livability than they do (and they’re not doing bad as it is).
In one of my next entries I’m going to step into where some of that money goes to after it leaves the cities. I’m currently researching where the Federal Government sucks all that money up and where it all ends up, because right now, 90%+ of it doesn’t end up back in the state. That money ends up in Iraq, Afghanistan, places like Idaho or South Dakota, Brazil, Israel, and a host of other places. But it doesn’t end up back here in the cities that create the wealth.
What could we do if we invested back into our country? Into our cities, into our states? I’d imagine, and am betting, that it would be a massive change!

Oh For Pete’s Sake!

…or maybe I should say “oh for Portland’s sake!

I live in Seattle these days. However, anyone that has ever read a blog entry or two on this blog probably knows the I also love Portland. Portland got me out to the northwest from the backwards and hellish heat of the southeastern US. Portland also is far more of a driving force in the northwest than many from other parts of the country may realize. They’d look at a map and probably think that Seattle would be more of a driving force.

I’ve come to find that this is not the case.

Don’t get me wrong. Seattle has lead the way in many progressive ways, but just walk down any major area in Seattle with decent livability and you’ll hear a recurring theme if you mention having lived in Portland for a while. I can tell you, 9 out of 10 people will almost swoon with a respect and love for what has been accomplished in the city of Portland. Rightly they should, a tremendous amount of progress has been made toward cleaning up that city in spite of the pitiful desecration that the “American Dream” had left it in. The city continues to make huge progress in biking, transit, livability, parks, financing (without printing money like our glorious Federal Government does), improving community outreach, community involvement, and to top it off the city has more restaurants, strip clubs, art walks, coffee shops, and library books in circulation per capita than any American City! Those are some serious bragging rights.

But that leaves me with a slight problem with all this swooning. Sure I love Portland pride (of all sorts) and am proud to have called it home (and still do to a large degree), but there is a problem when other places start doing nothing but swooning and imitating it! I have a simple request.

STOP!

Seattle has plenty to be proud for, I know Portland has great transit (or better, as most state to me when the topic of Portland comes up, and that is without me even saying I’m the Transit Sleuth guy…), I know it has all these projects and other things they’re doing to make it even more livable, even more fun, more enjoyable, more caffeinated, and even more bike, pedestrian, and human friendly. That’s great, but I want to hear about what Seattle is doing. I want to see Seattle moving forward. I want to hear about what Seattle is doing to keep up and stay competitive with Vancouver BC, Portland, and San Francisco even.

Seattle is a great city. Combine it with Tacoma, and you have a massive power house of a metropolitan area in the north west. The city is pushing forward with bike trails. Which it could do even more with. I think Seattle could be a leader in this realm! But alas, the last 4 discussions I’ve heard about bike trails or greenways end with “as discovered in Portland”… AAAAAHHHHH!!!

Then the transit question. Seattle should take this beast by the horns too. Stop doing half ass measures to barely keep the trolley buses running or a little sprinkling of a streetcar or light rail here or there. Stop mitigating by just allowing people to drive anyway, start allowing people to truly LIVE instead of just pushing the gas pedal and brake in that stop and go catastrophe called I-5. Seattle could lead in so many ways in this regard and has done a lot of work around this. Yet I hear unending stories from people in coffee shops, on the street, downtown, and in Pioneer Square about how the city is going to maybe get around to this or that by the time everyone who cares in 90, and our childrens’ children might get some benefit out of it. Then somebody usually swoons about how Portland already has 4 light rail lines and is working on their 5th (or as I like to call it, the extension of the yellow line south). Seattle should push aside the waitlist of Sound Transit and get King County Metro to move into the limelight with some SERIOUS efforts to bring light rail to Seattle proper (not just tossing it out of site and out of mind into the tunnel). I think some steam will be gathered with the First Hill Streetcar, but the city should really take the lead, brag about what IS being accomplished and keep up the pressure! Stop letting every story end with how bad ass Portland is. This is Seattle, people should talk about how bad ass it is when they’re here IN SEATTLE!

Anyway, I hope that something starts to trigger a serious change. I already do see a serious downtown (and west side) vs. east side pride. Again, something that I believe in. The cultural differences between the east side of Lake Washington and downtown (plus West Seattle) are HUGE! Seattle should be proud of its leadership and should continue that over the east side, there’s no chance they make any progress on that side anytime soon. Seattle is the cultural leader of this entire metropolitan area and the city should be proud of that.

I’ve got my fingers crossed, so let’s here some props for Seattle, and let’s move this forward.

Ballard to Bellevue to Redmond to Seattle to Ballard, Done!

A couple weeks ago Ro and I made a trip to check out the B-Line. The B-Line is the latest BRT type route between Bellevue to Redmond on the east side of Lake Washington (I really don’t want to call it east Seattle, because it isn’t anything like Seattle). We left early in the day boarding the #44 at Ballard & Market Street.

#44, in Diesel Operation (Usually it runs a Trolley Bus)

#44, in Diesel Operation (Usually it runs a Trolley Bus)

The #271 can be seen hiding behind the #49.

The #271 can be seen hiding behind the #49.

From there we rode to the University District and transferred there to the #271.

As we rode the #271 I saw an activity, that when I drove would cause me serious rage and concern over safety. But here on the bus, it was almost endearing to see a fellow rider making good use of their bus riding time. A young lady sat politely in her chair doing some of that fancy make up doing that young ladies do.

An appropriate time to put on makeup.

An appropriate time to put on makeup.

Once we arrived in Bellevue we spent some time to get a bite at Chantanee Thai Restaurant and Bar. After a good meal and some pretty snappy drinks, we headed over to the Bellevue Transit Center to board one of the new B-Line Buses. Behold, before us stood Chad (aka punkrawker of punkrawker4783 videos)! We talked for a bit about the new route. He told me about how part of the line was super busy while the other part was moderately so. After a few minute Ro and I left Chad to go his way and we were off on our way.

B-Line to Redmond

B-Line to Redmond

We boarded the next bus, when it showed as ready. They sit there at the transit center, off with a driver usually standing nearby in preparation for departure. On this day, since it wasn’t a weekday, the frequency was only 15 minutes. This made it really not like BRT. But I wasn’t expecting too much, as BRT is rarely setup the way it is talked about by advocates.

B-Line, Side Shot

B-Line, Side Shot

B-Line to Redmond

B-Line to Redmond

Once aboard we took our seats and enjoyed our departure. We pulled out onto the main street, into traffic, with barely a dedicated lane in site. As expected I thought to myself. But it wasn’t bad. The ride was smooth, as far as buses go, and vastly superior to the ride quality of buses that actually travel most King County Metro Routes. Part of this was the roadway, which is newer than most of the roads in Seattle proper, and part of it was the bus that has better suspension and ride quality.

On our ride we also were entertained by some of the colorful characters of the east side. One guy had a strange cat hat thing on with a girl who, well, simply had odd attire on altogether. But to each their own, it brought a chuckle and props for being different!

Cat Hat

Cat Hat

The east side, I will admit, is a beautiful area with a lot of nature. It is however a massive lifeless suburban sprawl. Everyone has their ticky tacky houses and with cookie cutter restaurants with barely a unique characteristics to the whole place. The only way to tell you’re in the north west is by the trees and natural surroundings here and there, plus the continual spurts of rain every hour or so. Other than that, you might as well be in Texas. The east side, with almost every house, apartment, and building carries an almost triumphant lack of culture and art. But again, this is something I was prepared for. Want art, go downtown to Seattle. Want some grass that you can mow, go to the east side.

The stops along the way, that are dedicated to the B-Line, are pretty neat. They’re just like the A-Line stops for the most part. With the rich red color and simple design.

B-Line Bus Stop

B-Line Bus Stop

I did grab one shot that I thought was just so stereotypical of the east side. The irreverent and disrespectful by their mere existence, H2 Hummer. Not the real Humvee, but no the superficial and fake H2. The thing that only pretends to be a real truck and is by no means even related to a military vehicle in any way other than mockery. The marketing on this sure worked for those of lesser income that have issues with their big truckness of manhood.

East Side Superficialness in Full Effect

East Side Superficialness in Full Effect

When we did get into the small town of Redmond the bus pulled up to the Redmond Transit Center. There we walked to the area that literally has the MOST life of the entire area. The local skate park. Of course, there were some kids there breaking the law while having fun riding their bikes. But as with the respect among young people, everyone was honorably taking their turns at runs on the park. Bicyclists, skooter riders, and skaters alike. It was very chill. Several of the kids were pretty bad ass on those bikes too. I’d hate to see an officer have to enforce the law and bust those kids of biking on the skate park. Something seriously should be done to change those laws – these parks should be available to skaters, skooters, inline skaters, bicyclists, or whatever non-powered fun ridable things someone wants to ride on it.

Here’s a few shots of the dudes riding bikes that were tearing it up good.

Flying High

Flying High

…and another…

Airborne Again

Airborne Again

After a while watching, we grabbed some food and then headed off to the heart of Redmond (which is about 4 square blocks of more ticky tacky, but I won’t go into that). On the way back I grabbed a few more shots of the buses serving the Redmond Transit Center.

Redmond Transit Center - B-Line Buses Queued Up

Redmond Transit Center - B-Line Buses Queued Up

#248 Redmond

#248 Redmond

Bus Stop Sign

Bus Stop Sign

After all that riding, it was time to head back to the cultural heart of this metropolitan area. So we boarded the next #545 bound for Seattle!

Once downtown, with a breath of life back in our souls, we then transferred and rode the trusty #18 back to Ballard.

Ride Complete! 🙂 Cheers!